Late Thursday night, at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, PA, hometown favorite Ronald Cruz scored a sensational final round knockout over Alberto Morales. BLH, as did 1 of the official judges, had Morales up a point going into the final round. It was not an easy night for Cruz. More often than not Morales punched in combination and out threw Cruz 3-1. Cruz definitely had the power advantage but his defense was porous and he often gave ground to his opponent. He either wasn't in great shape and/or he wasn't confident in the shape he had. Either way he wasn't happy with his performance. Check out what he had to say:
But ultimately he pulled out the win. Overhand rights put Morales down twice in the 10th round and the referee waved it off at 1:29. Through 9 rounds all official scorecards read 86-85, two for Cruz and one for Morales. Cruz's promoter Russell Peltz, who also thought he was behind, showed his frustration ringside through 9 rounds before his face resembled that of a young boy on Christmas morning in round 10. Despite career setbacks against the likes of Antwone Smith and Ray Narh, Ronald Cruz's fan base remains loyal and continues to support him. A packed Sands Bethlehem erupted when he took Morales out.
That being said, Cruz showed no improvements and one has to wonder if he can ever win at a world class level. I have my doubts. Fortunately for him I doubt his local fans care who his opponents are as long as the fights are compelling. And in that regard Cruz delivers, credit to Peltz Boxing and BAM Boxing Inc. matchmaking. Being in the deep welterweight division Cruz's fight options remain broad.
This event, streamed worldwide via UStream PPV, was advertised in conjunction with "Legends of Boxing," composed of Earnie Shavers, Gerry Cooney, Tommy Hearns, and night's commentator Larry Holmes. To be honest these guys were the reason I attended the event in the first place. I was informed I could interview them an hour before the fights would begin. I even showed up with questions written out. As 3 of them actually fought the late Ken Norton I could have made a nice tribute piece out of it too. Unfortunately the meet-n-greet was a private party that I was not on the guest list for and the legends didn't really stick around after the fights for media either. I did manage to ask Earnie Shavers about the greatest puncher and boxer he ever faced, to which he replied Ron Lyle and Larry Holmes respectively, but aside from that I got nothing. Tommy Hearns and Gerry Cooney were gone before the fights ended. But as I actually watched all of the fights, I suppose I can tell you how they went:
1. Chris Diaz TKO2 Johnny Portillo (2:36)
Diaz was taller, longer, and the better boxer. He kept Portillo gun shy and eventually stunned him with left hooks and put him down with straight rights. The referee stepped in as Diaz scored the 3rd knockdown in round 2. Super bantamweight Diaz won his pro debut.
2. Jerome Rodriguez UD6 Juan Serrano (60-54, 59-54, 58-54)
Rodriguez, apparently coming off illness, looked weak but his superior boxing skills brought him through. His legs in particular didn't look strong and his body language suggested Serrano was packing heat. In reality Serrano was just a really tough guy that kept applying pressure and throwing punches, which may have earned him the first and last rounds. Rodriguez boxed orthodox in the opening round but switched to his usual southpaw stance afterward. In round 4 Rodriguez brutalized Serrano and probably won the round 10-8 on 2 scorecards despite no knockdown. By the end of the fight Serrano's face was a bloody mess. Junior welterweight prospect Rodriguez improved to 6-0-1.
3. Jason Sosa TKO2 Tyrone Luckey (2:58)
Sosa, the much stronger man, dictated pace from the opening bell and bullied Luckey around the ring. With Luckey's back to the ropes he was staggered by an overhand right + left hook combo in round 1. Luckey was rocked again by a left hook to the head early in round 2 and dropped by the same shot to the body at the end. Luckey wasn't going to get up but the referee stopped counting at 8, thus the TKO. Super featherweight prospect Sosa advanced to 10-1-3.
4. Dan Pasciolla UD4 Billy Marks (39-37, 39-37, 39-37)
In the only truly controversial decision of the night heavyweight Pasciolla overcame a 63 pound weight "disadvantage" to upset local favorite Marks. It seems the judges must have given Pasciolla the final 2 rounds as his activity went up and Marks became less effective, but I don't have a clue which of the first 2 they threw his way. Marks was busier and landed strong jabs that literally shook Pasciolla. The crowd loudly booed the decision but Pasciolla improved to 1-1 while Marks dropped to 1-1. Rematch?
5. Arturo Trujilo UD4 Terrell James (40-36, 39-37, 40-36)
Amateur standout "Tuly" Trujilo survived a 4th round scare against James to pull off a hard fought decision victory. Because Tuly was knocked down in round 4 by a right hook he potentially could have lost the round 10-8. Combined with a fairly even opening round it was conceivable for him to lose the fight. However, after getting off the canvas, Trujilo unleashed furious combinations that swayed most of the rest of the final round in his favor. But as James was able to take the punches much better and never came close to going down, it's highly unusual for 2 of the 3 judges to score the final round 10-9 Tuly regardless. A legitimate case can be made that Tuly lost the round 10-9, but not that he won it. It's as if 2 judges ignored the referee and considered the knockdown a slip. It wasn't. Trujilo did in fact trip over James' feet, but it was because a punch knocked him off balance in the first place. In any event welterweight prospect Tuly improved to 3-0.
6. Ronald Cruz TKO10 Alberto Morales (1:29)
And then there was the main event (previously covered). I gave Cruz rounds 4, 7, and 8, Morales rounds 2, 3, 6, and 9, and scored rounds 1 and 5 even. Although press row was split in regards to who they had ahead, I thought I was being generous to Cruz. The promoters of the event seemed to agree and later sent out this email:
In an incredible finish, Bethlehem (PA) Ronald Cruz, who appeared to be losing on points after nine hard rounds, finally broke down Alberto Morales, of Miami, with two knockdowns early in round 10, the second one for the full 10-count. Though most ringsiders had Cruz trailing, he actually led 86-85 on two scorecards and was down 86-85 on the third. Cruz goes to 19-2, 14 K0s; Morales falls to 11-3-2, 8 K0s.
7. Joey Dawejko UD6 Kevin Franklin (58-56, 60-54, 58-56)
In the walkout bout of the evening talented-but-uncommitted Dawejko out boxed the more limited Franklin in an uninspiring performance. Dawejko did a lot of slipping and hooking to the body and was usually too elusive for Franklin to hit. Dawejko's other money punch was the overhand right. However, what the 5'10" 238½ lb Dawejko didn't seem to have was a jab, straight right, and combinations in general.
It might also be worth mentioning that Curtis Stevens was in attendance for the card. I heard he's holding a training camp nearby for his pending showdown with Gennady Golovkin. I also heard he's no longer called "Showtime" because the fight is on HBO...