PHILLY BOXING HISTORY  -  March 13, 2014


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by John DiSanto


Beginning at 7:40 PM on Saturday night in Bethlehem, PA, welterweight Ronald Cruz will be put to a test that is stringent enough to determine the direction of the remainder of his boxing career. For the popular Bethlehem native, the fight is "do or die", and will play out before nearly 2,000 of Ronald's most ardent fans at the Sands Event Center. Everyone in the sold out crowd will be anxious to witness how Cruz fares, and that live ringside audience will be the only ones that get to see how this fight goes. 

Cruz battles Kermit Cintron, a former world champion and fellow Puerto Rico- born / Pennsylvania-raised, fan favorite, in a 10-round bout on the off-TV undercard of a nationally televised double header.

In the main event, heavyweights Tomasz Adamek and Czar Glazkov clash in an interesting match-up scheduled for 12 rounds, after light heavyweights Isaac Chilemba and Denis Grachev open the NBCSN TV broadcast.

But it is Cruz-Cintron that packs the most punch for the local fight fans.

The 27-year old Ronald Cruz, 20-2, 15 KOs, is still angling for a breakthrough in the 147-pound division. When he won his first 17 fights (12 by KO), including impressive triumphs against Prenice Brewer (for a regional belt), Allen Conyers, Angnes Adjaho and Doel Carrasquillo, Cruz seemed to be on his way.

The undefeated run peaked when Cruz captured the WBC Continental Americas belt (vs. Brewer), but his perfect streak ended in his next bout. The popular attraction suffered back-to-back losses to Antwone Smith (2012) and Ray Narh (2013). These setbacks derailed Cruz' momentum and phased him out of the rankings.

Cruz has bounced back ever since, winning three straight fights against solid but lesser competition. Now to keep everything on track, he very much needs to prove he has the skills to defeat a fighter of Cintron's ilk.

A victory in this fight will not necessarily be enough to completely reboot Cruz' career, but Cintron will serve as a filter for Ronald's future in the sport. If Cruz can beat Cintron, he keeps moving forward. However, if Cruz can't pass through the filter, he will most certainly be blocked from entering the big time.

The hard-punching Cintron's best days may be behind him, but he is still a dangerous foe for Cruz. The 34-year old former champ with a 34-5-2, 28 KOs record, lost only to Antonio Margarito between 2000 and 2009. In retrospect, both of those brutal beat-downs may each deserve an asterisk.

Cintron won the IBF crown in 2006 and defended it twice before ceding the belt to the possibly-plaster-fisted Margarito, in their second meeting. However, Cintron's record includes victories over Alfredo Angulo, Lovemore Ndou, Antwone Smith, and a controversial draw against Sergio Martinez.

Losses to Paul Williams, Carlos Molina and ultimately Saul Alvarez seemed to finish Cintron as a major factor. However, after an extended layoff, he returned for two 10-rounders last year (D10, W10).

On Saturday, Cintron will attempt to continue his comeback by ruining the return that Cruz has mounted. Cruz is younger and fresher, with losses that can be explained away fairly easily. But he has to win to avoid branding those losses as his pattern.

Meanwhile, Cintron is a battle-tested pro with more experience and punching power than anyone that Cruz has ever faced.

Both fighters are skilled. Both fighters have interesting and harrowing back stories that make them determined competitors. Both fighters also need this win very badly.

Luckily for fans, neither fighter is action-adverse. 

These factors make the Cruz-Cintron fight a must see for local boxing fans. If you have a ticket, consider yourself lucky. The fight will not be televised, and with the arena completely sold out already (primarily on the strength of this match up), there won't be any walkup traffic at the Sands in Bethlehem. 

Every time Cruz appears at his hometown arena, the atmosphere is always terrific. His fans pack the place, and he fights his heart out for them. This fight, his 8th at the Sands, has more at stake than any of those previously at the venue.

To intensify the evening more, Cintron will have his own cheering section, all feeling the same pressure that Cruz fans are certain to face.

This fight is a must win for both men.

Therefore, the ambiance for this one should be better than ever, and the fight itself looks like one that will live up to all that drama and emotion.  




John DiSanto - Bethlehem, PA - March 13, 2014