|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - June 27, 2014||
Story by John DiSanto
Four Philly-area fighters, Ronald Cruz, Dennis Hasson, Anthony Caputo Smith and Taneal Goyco, made the trip to Las Vegas to box on a nationally televised Golden Boy card at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Friday night, and all four tasted defeat in their separate bouts. Of the four boxers, only Hasson was expected to come away with a victory Friday night, but he too suffered a loss, the first of his rebooted boxing career.
In his second bout as an Al Haymon protégée, the formerly undefeated Hasson, 16-1, 6 KOs, was matched with hard knocks opponent Tyrell Hendrix in a scheduled 8-round light heavyweight bout.
Hasson was the third straight undefeated foe placed in front of Hendrix, who was riding a bumpy 1-3 streak, with all three of those recent losses by stoppage - including a first round wipeout by Philly's Jesse Hart. So Hendrix was there to fall down against Hasson. However, the Californian had other ideas.
Hendrix, now 11-4-2, 4 KOs, dropped Hasson twice and halted him at 2:59 of round four when referee Kenny Bayless stopped the contest after his second trip to the canvas.
The loss may just be a temporary bump in the road for Hasson. But his six-year career has been an arduous journey with numerous stall-outs, injuries, and a revolving parade of managers. Recently, with Haymon and new trainer Billy Briscoe in place, it seemed that Hasson was finally on the path to find out how far he can go in the sport. Let's hope this wasn't the answer. Only time will tell.
In the main event of the evening (and the only of these fights to be televised) former Olympian Errol Spence blanked Bethlehem, PA's Ronald Cruz over ten tough rounds that were difficult to watch.
Cruz, 20-4, 15 KOs, brought plenty of toughness with him to Las Vegas. All night long, Ronald hung in there and took a frightful beating from the undefeated rising star. Spence, 13-0, 10 KOs, looked extremely sharp and was head and shoulders ahead of Cruz in terms of talent.
Spence won every round of the fight, and dished a landslide of punches that dwarfed Cruz' output in the official stats. The punishment started in round one and kept coming until the final bell. Spence showed the ability to do everything except being able to floor or finish Cruz.
Cruz showed guts and grit, but was never in the fight. This was his second straight loss, and the fourth in his last seven bouts. Each of his defeats have been tough 10-round decision losses.
Going into the fight, few gave Cruz a chance of winning. In fact, Spence's fine pedigree even had many believing Cruz would suffer his first knockout loss. However, Ronald was too tough and too proud to let that happen, and remained on his feet until the very end.
In doing so, Cruz took much punishment during the 30 minutes of action, something he should have been spared by his corner. Yes, Cruz moves on with the bragging rights that he's never been stopped, but the loss could prove more damaging than a merciful stoppage ever would have.
I would have liked to have seen someone in Ronald's corner step up and do the right thing. He had had enough and wasn't begging to continue. Rather it was his trainer begging him to do something - something Ronald could not do on this night. Cruz' corner put him in danger and probably put the cap on his slumping career. Sometimes nights like these are hard for a fighter to shake.
Some may say it doesn't matter either way, that Ronald has reached, and now passed, his peak as a fighter. But I think it does matter. Most fighters don't know how to quit, and it is the job of the corner, the people who know him best, to offer a boxer protection from his pride.
Cruz should not feel any shame in this loss, however. He was brave on a night when he was in way over his head and nothing was going his way. He is a fighter who did his best.
Who knows what comes next for him? At just 27, he could fight on quite a bit further. He's still an attraction in his hometown of Bethlehem, and would be welcome back in Philadelphia any time. He comes to fight and probably will be eager to show everyone that he can do better than he did against Spence.
However the young husband and father could also hang up his gloves and find something better to do. He's had a good career, even if it ends right now. Either way, I await his next move and wish him luck.
Anthony Caputo Smith also fought on this card, facing BJ Flores in an 8-round heavyweight bout. Flores has been more of a broadcaster than a fighter over the past two years, but continued his comeback nonetheless. Flores earned an easy unanimous decision over the tough fighter from Kennett Square, PA.
All three official judges scored the fight an 80-72 shutout for Flores, which raised his record to 30-1-1, 19 KOs. Smith, a big attraction in Chester, PA, returns to the East Coast with a 15-3, 10 KOs, record.
South Philly's Taneal Goyco, 6-7-1, 3 KOs, has been on the opponent track for most of his career, and despite two recent consecutive victories (his longest winning streak since his first three pro bouts), continued to try his luck against young rising talent.
Goyco faced NJ's undefeated John Magda in a super middleweight bout on the Vegas card, but fell to the rising prospect in round four. Referee Kenny Bayless stopped the bout at 2:24 of the fourth.
The loss dropped Goyco below the .500 mark. Magda improved to 7-0 with 6 KOs.
All in all, it was a tough night for our local boxers.
The big Philly winner on this night perhaps was light heavyweight Yusaf Mack who was originally slated to face former Olympian Marcus Brown, of Staten Island. Mack pulled out of his scheduled 10-rounder as the bout approached, and Browne instead blasted out substitute Donta Woods in just 91 seconds.
With the way things were going last night, Mack may have dodged a bullet. I'm glad he ended up staying home.
The card was promoted by Golden Boy and televised by Showtime.