By Jason Pribila – ringside in Bethlehem: On Saturday Night Peltz Boxing, Top Rank, and BAM Boxing brought an eight bout card to the Sands Resort and Casino in Bethlehem, PA. The main event featured a featherweight clash between Gamalier Rodriguez and Jorge Pazos. Although this was one of several bouts that featured Puerto Rico vs Mexico, it was one of the few bouts that did not feature a local fighter. Fortunately for fans of the (610) the undercard was loaded with pugilists from the Lehigh Valley.
The most important fight on the card featured the face of Bethlehem Boxing, welterweight Ronald Cruz. Cruz entered the ring where he was introduced to a national audience as he outpointed Prenice Brewer in NBC Fight Night in June of 2012. Although that win was only 14 months ago, for Cruz it felt like a lifetime.
In September, Cruz would suffer his first professional loss to the unprofessional Antwone Smith. His attempt at a rebound ended up being a lop-sided points defeat to Ray Narh on June 14.
Fortunately for Cruz he has a promoter who was able to get him right back in the ring. More importantly, Russell Peltz is also one of the sports best matchmakers. Cruz had struggled and probably always will struggle against fighters that possess great lateral movement. Peltz found an opponent that would be willing to stay in the pocket and trade with Cruz. Rodlofo Armenta (12-11-1, 9KO) was exactly what this fighter needed.
As Cruz was climbing the ranks he enjoyed eight straight victories by knockout. He accomplished this by working behind his jab, working his way inside, and attacking his opponent’s body. In recent fights, Cruz seemed to be looking for the knockout without first investing the time to soften up the man in front of him. When he would land upstairs, he would get tied up before he could capitalize.
On Saturday Night, Cruz returned to form. He came out quickly behind a jab to the head and body. He moved Armenta to the ropes, and did damage when he got there. Cruz experienced more success in one round than he did during the entire bout against Narh.
The minute between rounds could not tick fast enough for Cruz. Jabs to the head and body were again key in Cruz controlling the real estate. A left hook to the body forced Armenta to the ropes. On his approach, Cruz looked as if he was aiming low, but instead looped a right hand to Armenta’s jaw. The end was near, and a Cruz flurry dropped Armenta to the canvas. As referee Gary Rosato’s count reached eight, Armenta decided that the canvas was a safer place than against the ropes and he was counted out.
With the win Cruz improves to 18-2, with 13 KO. There is no question the gym rat will insist on going back to work soon with the hopes of fighting again in November.
Cruz’s loss to Narh temporarily deflated the Sands Event Center on June 14. Enter Easton, PA welterweight Arturo Trujillo. Thanks to an early knockout by Sergey Kovalev, Trujillo was able to make his professional debut on NBCSN. The 2011 National Golden Gloves champion entered the ring as an unknown, and after 29 seconds he left the ring with a knockout victory, and a memorable interview with Chris Mannix.
On Saturday, Trujillo faced off against Yurii Polischuk, who also won by knockout in his professional debut. The southpaw felt out his opponent for the majority of the first round before landing a flurry at the end of the round to take the lead on the scorecards. In round two Polischuk opened up and ended up on the canvas. Trujillo would continue to put on pressure, but he was unable to score the stoppage. After hitting the canvas, Polischuk remained on the defensive, and seemed satisfied to hear the final bell. Trujillo wants to remain as busy as possible, and I’m sure his manager and promoter will be happy to satisfy his request.
His last time out, Jerome Rodriguez (5-0-1, 2KO) traded knockdowns Treysean Wiggins en route to a thrilling KO2 and the popular vote for fight of the night. On Saturday, Rodriguez seemed as if he worked on tightening up his defense against Ariel Duran (7-7-1, 4 KO). His punches were straighter, and when he threw his combinations he seemed to get out of the pocket just before being countered. Rodriguez won by scores of 60-54, 59-55, and 59-55 in his most complete performance to date.
The opening bout of the evening saw the return of the blue-collar heavyweight from Allentown, PA William Miranda (6-7-2). Miranda faced Philadelphia’s David Williams (7-7-2, 2KO). There is no questioning Miranda’s toughness, but he once again took a lot of punishment, and dropped a unanimous decision: 38-37, 40-36, 39-37.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter.com @PribsBoxing.
August 11, 2013