Ronald Cruz, the WBC Continental Americas Welterweight champion, will make the first defense of his title in front of his usual sold out crowd of native Philadelphians at the Events Center at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This will only be Cruz’s second twelve round fight and in his first 12-rounder, he scored a unanimous decision victory over Prenice Brewer in a fight that was televised by NBCSN back on June 1st. The fight was also at the Sands Casino in front of a sold out capacity crowd of 2,000.
Ronald Cruz’s works with trainer Lemuel Rodriguez at the Allentown Boxing Gym. Cruz, who turned professional at the not so young age of 20, has a fan pleasing style to say the least and as acquired a record of 17-0 with 12 KO’s. He will take on the more grunting than punching Antwone Smith (21-4-1, 12 KO’s), who was last seen on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” losing to Roberto Garcia at junior middleweight. In fact, Smith hasn’t weighted in at welterweight limit since November 5, 2010; this can either be an advantage or disadvantage versus a big puncher like Cruz.
We here at the ThaBoxingVoice.com had the opportunity to catch up with Ronald Cruz and talk about his upcoming fight. I expressed to him that I felt this was a stepping stone type of fight and Cruz had this to say, “I feel good, this is a guy that fought very experienced guys. He went the distance with good names and also lost to the bigger names, like you said it’s a stepping stone I have to go through.”
This will be Cruz second time on NBC Sports and I was wondering if he was willing to make the move to some of the other networks.
“If these [other networks] would ever give me a call I’d jump at the offer, if it’s the right offer and my team is comfortable with whatever they offered. NBC is a pretty big network, its worldwide known and you know I’m good with that for now.”
When you think of the welterweight division you think of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Victor Ortiz and so many others, while speaking with Ronald Cruz I wanted to know where he sees himself fitting in amongst those names in the division, Cruz’s humbleness shined in his response.
“I really don’t know, I really can’t say, whoever they put in front of me I’m looking to make a statement. I feel like I didn’t [in my last fight], even though I won my last fight. It was probably a good performance to the eyes of the public; I didn’t feel like I did my best. I still have to show the public what my best is; I think everybody is going to be pretty amazed with the best of Ronald Cruz.”
If you haven’t been to a Ronald Cruz fight you don’t know how exciting the atmosphere can be, how loud the cheers can get, or the sea of Ronald Cruz T shirts in the crowd. From being live at his fights I can tell you people are paying to see him with no regard to who is the main event. Back on June 1st, I watched the crowd disperse faster than students after a fire alarm in a high school once Cruz’s fight was over. It was something I noticed so I wondered if he considered not being the main event even though he was the main event of sorts.
“I’m not mad at that because NBC wants whoever they got on the main events; it’s probably just for the TV. Here in my home town, I’m the main event because right after me the place pretty much clears out.”
As I said earlier Antwone Smith grunts, rants, and makes every other noise a fighter can make in the mix of throwing punches. We were curious to know if this would have any effect on Ronald.
“I know I never fought a guy that yells every time he punches. I’m not going to let that get in my head, at least I know ahead of time what he does in there but whatever he comes with I’ll be ready. I have enough time to get ready for this guy and make a statement,” Cruz said.
While Freddie Roach had Cruz basically winning every round in the fight vs. Prenice Brewer, Cruz did abandon the use of the jab that would have made it a much easier night and perhaps set up the power right hand behind the most commonly abandoned tool in a fighter’s tool bag.
“I look at the fight now and it’s like damn, why am I not doing this and why am I not doing that, I see a lot of mistakes I was doing. For the public it might have been a pretty good performance, but for me I find that I didn’t do my best there. It will be the third time fighting in front of my home crowd; I’m going to be a lot more comfortable. I’ll be more relax and just more ready to shine in front of the public,” Cruz said.
Speaking of performing in front of the home town and him being relaxed I asked if it was an added pressure to look sensational, Cruz replied, “Yeah the first time I fought at the Sands (sold out crowd of 1500 in a temporary tent outside of Sands Casino) it wasn’t a [crowd] as big as the last time (sold out crowd of 2000), last time, it was a pretty big crowd and this time it’s going to be the same and at least I already broke the ice so I know how it feels. I know I’m going to be a lot more relax. I already been through this, I’ll be able to do my thing a lot better.”
We asked Cruz his thoughts on Keith Thurman calling out Floyd Mayweather over this past weekend. “I was looking at that fight last night, first time I saw him and I thought it was pretty funny when he called out Mayweather. I would love to fight guys like this to make a name for myself and I’m confident I can beat all these guys coming up. They’re hungry just like I am. I feel with my talent it would be a great fight to take to let the crowd and the world know that I’m the top dog and the hungrier lion right now,” Cruz said.
Follow Ronald Cruz on twitter @Ronaldjay25