Ronald Cruz, who sat out the first half of 2013 and then dropped a 10 round decision to Ray Narh, has since stayed active and produced 3 straight wins, albeit against lesser competition. Still, Cruz's latest victim, Hector Munoz, was coming off upsetting Hector Camacho Jr and had to be considered a live dog. And for a short while he was. But by the end of round 1 Munoz's output dropped and his stiffness and lack of head movement turned him into target practice for Cruz. After Cruz floored Munoz with a sneaky overhand right in round 3 he was never able to recover. Shortly thereafter Cruz knocked Munoz down again, this time with a devastating left hook, and it looked to be over. Many refs would have stopped it then and there but Munoz beat the count and wanted to continue, so Steve Smoger gave him one last chance. As Munoz was nearly immediately down again, although this time from a cuffing shot that missed, Smoger had seen enough. Munoz's legs were clearly gone and he was in no condition to continue.
Thus Cruz picked up his 20th professional win, 15th by knockout, and looks ahead to bigger and better things in 2014. He specifically called out Kermit Cintron when I interviewed him backstage:
Cintron (34-5-2, 28 KOs) has looked mediocre at best after getting robbed on the scorecards against Paul Williams in 2010 but would easily be a career best win for Cruz if the Bethlehem, PA resident could pull it off. Ironically both Cruz and Cintron moved to Pennsylvania after being born in Puerto Rico. Cintron, a native of Reading, PA, hasn't fought in his home state since 2003 but could probably still draw well against Cruz, who always draws well at the Sands Casino Resort no matter who the opponent is. Sounds like a good ESPN Friday Night Fights or NBC Sports Fight Night main event to me. Let's see if Kermit is interested...
In the co-main event Jason Sosa was supposed to meet Chazz McDowell, but McDowell disappeared in the 11th hour... I was told Bryne Green fought only a few days earlier (although Nov. 2 is the closest fight I could find on record) but stepped in as a late replacement for McDowell nonetheless. Subsequently he was knocked out for the first time in his career. Details on that fight and the remaining undercard follow in chronological order:
1. Ismael Serrano UD4 Jean Hernandez (40-36, 39-37, 39-37)
In the opening bout of the evening light welterweight hopeful Serrano was given a stiff test in his professional debut. Press row all agreed that Hernandez won the last round but BLH also gave him the 2nd. Serrano was at his best when he danced and punched in combination, controlling the pace of the fight. However, when he allowed Hernandez to walk him down and languished on the ropes, he took a beating. Serrano's clinches in the 4th round indicated he was being broken down. However, rounds 2 and 4 were still close enough to legitimately swing either way so the judge that had it a shutout was not necessarily blind. Serrano advanced to 1-0 while Hernandez fell to 0-1.
2. Nathaniel Rivas UD4 Johnathan Williams (40-36, 40-36, 40-36)
Fight 2 featured 2 skilled junior welterweight prospects. After 2 competitive opening rounds that could have gone either way (for those with a keen eye for clean punching) the stronger and busier Rivas took complete control of the fight after stunning Williams in round 3. Promoter Russell Peltz was genuinely concerned from the beginning and thought Williams was put in over his head for his pro debut. Williams fought the final round in survival mode. Body shots seemed to take the fight out of him. BLH had it 39-36 for Rivas but anywhere between 40-35 to 38-38 would have been feasible. Even Peltz thought round 3 could have been scored 10-8. "2 Guns" Rivas improved to 2-0 while Williams regressed to 0-1.
3. Arturo Trujillo TKO1 Pablo Sanchez (1:48)
Sanchez was overwhelmed with the skills and speed of Trujillo and hit the deck twice. Although he easily beat both counts, referee Gary Rosato deemed him unfit to continue. Trujilo is an explosive southpaw welterweight with a big straight left hand. Sound familiar? Keep an eye on him and he moves up the pro ranks. For now he's 4-0. Meanwhile Sanchez is a .500 fighter at 1-1. I'm sure Pablo can easily rectify the situation when he goes back to Indiana and fights the local talent again...
4. Darnell Jiles D6 Jerome Rodriguez (57-57, 57-57, 57-57)
In a difficult fight to score all 3 judges saw it even. Subsequently junior welterweight prospect "King Me" Rodriguez remained unbeaten. BLH had it 58-56 for Rodriguez. He was better defensively and he landed the cleaner shots, particularly with his straight punches. Both slapped with hooks, but hooks were mostly what Jiles had to offer. There were really only 2 clear cut rounds in the fight, the 3rd for Rodriguez and the 6th for Jiles. Rodriguez used his superior speed and dominated Jiles with straight left hands in round 3.
However, in round 6 Rodriguez was either low on gas or sitting on a presumed lead. Either way he was bullied around the ring and threw the fight away. All the judges gave the final round to Jiles. Rodriguez is now 6-0-2 while Jiles is 9-3-2. Darnell's previous draw came to Hank Lundy back in 2008 while Jerome got his draw in his pro debut against Hasan Young. Lundy is obviously further along than Young, but both are good, exciting fighters. That has absolutely nothing to do with this fight, but I just thought that was interesting to note...
5. Jason Sosa KO4 Bryne Green (2:36)
And then there was the last minute co-main event. Green was subbed in so late that according to the official program Sosa was still fighting McDowell. But at least Green appeared on the bout sheet, unlike the AWOL McDowell. Even McDowell's manager couldn't find him or get him on the phone. But I digress... Let's talk about Green, who lost every round before getting knocked out by a body shots in the 4th. Um...OK I guess that just about covers it. Sosa progressed to 11-1-3 while Green was shot down to verifiable 7-8-1 (see pre-chronological breakdown).
6. Todd Unthank-May TKO2 Kentrell Claiborne (2:34)
Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Todd "2 Gunz" Unthank-May overcame a bad cut in round 1 (due to a headbutt) to score a 2nd round knockout. Claiborne rushed in with his head after Unthank-May backed him up to the ropes early in round 1, attempting to hold on for dear life after tasting Todd's power. Claiborne would land some sort of a slapping overhand right moments later, which some people thought caused the cut, but it connected on the other side of Unthank-May's head. The cut was pretty bad but Unthank-May didn't let it rattle him and continued to dominate the round. Excellent corner work saw the cut a non-issue in the 2nd stanza and Unthank-May closed the show in style. Todd staggered Kentrell with a right hand early and he just kept landing it throughout the round.
Eventually Claiborne dropped to 2 knees as his durability depleted. Unthank-May then stalked his wounded prey and dug a sneaky left hook to the body when Claiborne was on the ropes, dropping Kentrell to 1 knee. When the action resumed Todd finished the fight with a lead right hand that put Kentrell on his butt. There was no 3 knockdown rule but referee Rosato (not Smoger) had seen enough. You can catch those 3 knockdowns and my post-fight interview with Todd here:
Unthank-May elevated to 8-0 while Claiborne crashed to 4-8.
7. Ronald Cruz TKO3 Hector Munoz (1:43)
And finally we arrive at the main event, which I already wrote enough about. I'll simply add that this was the best I've seen of Ronald Cruz. If he can get his offense started this early on a regular basis, combined with his improved defensive skills, he may just pan out to be a real contender. But for now he can settle for being a 20-2 welterweight-work-in-progress with an already-developed-fan-base. You will see Cruz on TV again, or at least I will. I won't pretend to know what you like to watch...
8. Terrell James D4 Carlo Moore (39-37, 38-38, 38-38)
The final bout of the evening saw yet another draw and perhaps the ugliest fight on the card. I guess they call them walkout bouts for a reason. One of the official judges did have the fight for James as did BLH (39-38). James dominated most of the opening round but seemed to punch himself out and let Moore close strong. Moore continued his momentum into round 2 and basically mauled James to death, his strategy for the rest of the fight. I thought James was able to create enough distance to work on the inside effectively in an even round 3 before swinging the 4th in his favor with a big left hook down the stretch. However, Moore's trainer only believes that James deserved to win the 1st round. Both teams are interested in an immediate rematch. Assuming that happens, James will enter 1-1-1 while Moore will be 0-1-1.
This Nov. 16, 2013 fight card was put together by Peltz Boxing & BAM Boxing in association with the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. A photo gallery of the event, courtesy of Kathryn Warburton, is available atop this page. Kathryn regularly does photography for promoters Russell Peltz and Brittany Rogers.