Professional boxers are competing at the Olympics for the first time after the international boxing association, AIBA, approved a constitutional change earlier this June.
The male boxers will also be in the ring without headguards for the first time since 1980, which could see more fights stopped on cuts, and a new pro-style 10-point scoring system.
Cuban boxers, staunchly amateur, have dominated Olympic and World Championships for more than 40 years.
“Some boxers are better technically or stronger than others but I don’t think there’s any fear or danger between professionals or amateurs under the Olympic rules,” Eduardo Limonta, a Cuban Boxing Commission official, told Al Jazeera.
The Caribbean nation has won 67 medals in the ring, 34 of them gold.
However, AIBA’s decision to include professional boxers means the Cubans could be up against stronger-than-usual opposition in Rio de Janeiro.