Felix Savon dominated amateur heavyweight (201 lbs) boxing circles between 1985 when he won the Junior World Championship in Bucharest,Romania out pointing Poland's Andrew Golota, until the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia when he defeated Sultan Ibragimov (21-13) from Russia.
After winning his third Gold medal against Ibragimov he retired at 33. One year before amateur boxing's mandatory retirement age of 34.
During his reign he captured three consecutive heavyweight Olympic Gold medals (1992, 1996, and 2000) Gold at 6 consecutive World Amateur Boxing Championships (1986, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995,and 1997) and was the Cuban National Champion from 1985 until 1998. He composed an amateur record of 362-21.
The big question is, who did this 6' 5" tall lanky amateur boxer with extraordinarily foot and hand speed fight against? It was clear that he never faced the best pros that might of been amateur or he might of turned pro to face them in his prime from 1985-2000. They were in that era Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis.
So who did he defeat in his career that later turned pro in the 1992 Olympics for Gold he defeated Danell Nicholson (United States) a close 13-11,and David Izon (Nigeria) 14-1. In the 1996 he defeated Luan Krasniqi (Germany) for gold by walkover and then David Defiagbon (Canada) 20-2. Then in 2000 he defeated for Gold Michael Bennett (United States) 23-8 and Sultan Ibragimov (Russia) 21-13.
So there you have it—in three Olympics he beat six guys who later on turned pro.That were not that extraordinary as pros.
Some claim that he could have won a fourth Gold Olympic medal in 1988 if Cuba hadn't boycotted those games. To the contrary, I believe he would have had a very tough time, as Ray Mercer (United States) was the Gold medalist that year. In his fifteen year career Savon never faced anyone older than him. At that time, Mercer was 27 while Savon was 24; roles would have been reversed as Savon always came in with more experience than his opponents.
It is also a known fact that Savon defeated David Tua, Shannon Briggs, and Lamont Brewster by KO and TKO in regional and world amateur championships. Briggs summed it up best that he gave "Savon credit but it was like boys going against men." Briggs was 18 when he lost by KO to Savon, who was 28 at the time.
Previously that was all that we had on Savon's victories to those which had turned pro. Now we have the case of fellow recent Cuban heavyweight defector Odlanier Solis 17-0, 12 KO's as a pro.He defeated Savon twice for the Cuban national amateur title while Savon's career was winding down. Solis will face Vitali Klitscho this spring for the WBC Heavyweight belt.
It's really unfortunate that we never got to see such talent go against the best at that time. One thing is for sure Cuban boxers nowadays aren't assuming or waiting ask Solis, Gamboa, and Rigondeaux. They want to face the best and be the best in the pro ranks.