THE Andy Cruz era got under way at Masonic Temple, as the amateur sensation won his pro debut in decisive fashion, outpointing former contender Juan Carlos Burgos over 10 rounds. The durable Burgos, who had never been stopped in 45 contests, kept his proud record for durability intact but was shutout on the scorecards of judges Rosemary Gross, Gerald White and Dave DeJonge (each of whom had it 100-90). Ansel Stewart refereed.
Perhaps there was a small touch of disappointment in that Cruz was unable to do what others, like Mikey Garcia and Devin Haney, had failed to but if a highlight reel knockout was the goal then surely the stubborn gatekeeper from Tijuana would not have been summoned.
Cruz, 28, is looking to take the express train to a world title. Whether he is ready right now is debatable but, by going 10 rounds and being fresh at the end, the Cuban at the very least proved that going the championship distance as a professional should not be a problem.
By the third round it was Cruz looking like a seasoned pro. Burgos, who had won only four of his previous 13 going in, targeted the body but his efforts to attack waned as the match progressed. Cruz’s trainer, Bozy Ennis, excitedly told his protege at the end of the fifth, “you can stop him” but the materialisation of such optimism never really looked likely. Later, Ennis would lose track of which round it was in a small case of nerves.
Cruz overwhelmed Burgos with an assortment of blows throughout. As a result, some of Burgos’ punches may have intentionally strayed low, such as in the 10th when the crown jewels of Cruz came under fire. But Cruz kept his poise, his temper and his flow.
To summise, Andy Cruz is already a factor in the lightweight division.
Some might take offence to the match of a debutant being the lead in this report when there was a women’s world title fight on display. However, the reality is that super-featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner’s contest did not have the same anticipation as Cruz’s. But credit Baumgardner with turning in an excellent performance in avenging her only career defeat, which had taken place in 2018, to Greece’s Christina Linardatou.
In the first, fourth, and eighth rounds, Detroit’s Baumgardner opened up with big blows, but for the most part boxed within herself. Linardatou moved forward but was never able to wage a meaningful attack. When all was said and done, judges Katealia Chambers (99-91), Fred Fluty (98-92), and Rosemary Gross (98-92) all voted for the champion with scores that told the right story. Afterwards, promoter Eddie Hearn stated his intention to match Baumgardner with Amanda Serrano next.
As a side note, it was announced that this would be referee Frank Garza’s final fight and he would be retiring after having served 40 years as a third man. In large part, Garza’s career has been controversy-free; the sign of a good referee.
Heavyweight fringe contender Jermaine Franklin is best known for his decision defeats to Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua in the UK but got back in the winning column against Mexico’s Issac Munoz, winning by unanimous 10 round decision (99-91 and two scores of 100-90). Garza refereed.
Franklin from Saginaw, Michigan, moved forward and had a high work-rate. Munoz, who had never lost before, punched sporadically, hoping to catch Franklin with a hurtful blow. His body language often betrayed that hope, however, and made it somewhat surprising that he lasted the course.
A solid win for Franklin who looks like he is building on the losses to Whyte and Joshua rather than regressing from them.
Detroit’s Ja’Rico O’Quinn and Venezuela’s Carlos Mujica engaged in a spirited 10-rounder that was close enough to have been scored either way. The local boxer was awarded a unanimous decision by margins of 96-94, 97-93 and a totally unacceptable 100-90 (from judge Chambers). Scoring a fight is subjective but to rule that Mujica did not win a round was baffling.
Grand Rapids prospect Joseph Hicks went the distance for the first time in his career, winning unanimously over six rounds against Mexico’s Ramses Agaton. All scores were 60-54.
The Verdict – Cruz gets a sizeable ball rolling while Baumgardner rights an old wrong.