We saw three big performances from Liam Paro, Andy Cruz, and Miyo Yoshida on tonight’s Haney vs Prograis card, with a new bantamweight world champion crowned in the PPV opener.
In short, Yoshida upset Ebanie Bridges to win the IBF bantamweight title, followed by Cruz looking absolutely sensational in a dominant win over Jovanni Straffon, and then Paro breaking down and stopping Montana Love.
More on the fights below.
Liam Paro TKO-6 Montana Love
If Love (18-2-1, 9 KO) was hoping to make up for his last appearance, a DQ loss to Australian Stevie Spark in Nov. 2022, he, well, didn’t. Paro, another Aussie, seemed to have his number for much of this fight, and then dropped Love twice in the sixth, leading to a stoppage.
Paro (24-0, 15 KO) doesn’t really jump off the screen when you watch him, but the guy just keeps doing the business. He was supposed to face Regis Prograis earlier this year, but was replaced late by Danielito Zorrilla, and came back with this fight after a 14-month ring absence, looking like he hadn’t really skipped a beat.
Love had his moments, but Paro just did not seem to have much respect for what Love was throwing at him, and was able to physically overwhelm him eventually with good left hands.
Paro will, of course, hope to get a world title shot in 2024, and he’s doing all he can to make that happen. We’ll see if it actually happens. There are some real sharks at his weight, but this is a guy with a lot of belief in his ability and can be counted on to give his best effort if he does get one.
Andy Cruz TKO-3 Jovanni Straffon
We’ve got a real deal here, folks. It’s not hype with Andy Cruz, it’s clear and obvious ability. This is an elite-level fighter in terms of skills. Absolutely, he has to back it up in the pro ranks, but dominating Juan Carlos Burgos and Jovanni Straffon in your first two fights is nothing to shake a stick at, either.
Cruz (2-0, 1 KO) absolutely looks like a top 10 lightweight already. The talent level and boxing skill is just off the charts, which we saw in the amateurs, but sometimes it doesn’t translate. This is a guy who’s going to translate to the pro game — already is. Straffon (26-6-1, 19 KO) is no great fighter or anything, but he’s not as bad as Andy Cruz made him look tonight, either.
Cruz said he wants to get into the world title mix soon. Promoter Eddie Hearn called him a “generational talent” and added: “You think people like George Kambosos [or] Frank Martin can beat this kid now? No chance. Keyshawn Davis? No chance. He couldn’t win a round off him in the amateurs.”
Cruz may not fight for a world title next, but the plan is clear, they want to move him fast.
Miyo Yoshida UD-10 Ebanie Bridges
We’ve got a new IBF bantamweight champ, and it’s 35-year-old Miyo Yoshida, who came in on short notice here to replace Avril Mathie. Yoshida is a former two-time 115 lb titleholder, but thought to be clearly past her best days, and she well might be, because as much as Yoshida fought well tonight, Bridges was awful in this one.
Scores were 97-93, 99-91, and 99-91 for Yoshida. Bad Left Hook unofficially had it 98-92 and 99-91 for the Japanese veteran.
To be super clear about this matchup on paper, Yoshida lost a decision to Shurretta Metcalf on a small show in New York a month ago, and earlier this year struggled to a majority decision win over Indeya Smith, who came in with a .500 career record.
Bridges (9-2, 4 KO) was absolutely nothing like her normal, hard-charging self. She came in with the plan to “box,” which didn’t go well at all, and when she realized she needed to get back to her brawling, she just couldn’t do it.
Yoshida (17-4, 0 KO) bullied her, out-boxed her, out-fought her, and by the midway point Bridges, 37 and with a year of rust, just didn’t seem to physically have much of anything left.
You’d expect a rematch, and we’ll see if Ebanie comes back more like her old self next time out, maybe in better shape, but this might also just be a horrible matchup. Yoshida is crafty, smart, and experienced. Even at her best, Bridges kinda has the one speed — she’s good at it, and normally fun to watch (and this wasn’t a Bad Fight, either), but this was just a truly horrible outing for her, never really in the fight at all other than sheer will to try.