Cruz began the fight going back to the game plan that helped him get his arm raised in his first 17 bouts. He set up his offense behind his jab, committed to the body and then took advantage of openings upstairs. Cruz’s early success to the body caused Munoz to do more complaining to referee Steve Smoger than throw punches of his own. Midway through the third round, Cruz again landed a stiff jab to the beltline followed by a booming overhand right that sent Munoz to the canvas. Munoz made it to his feet but he did not remain upright for long. Cruz landed a barrage of punches that sent Munoz into the ropes where he was open to a left hook that should have ended the fight. Unfortunately, Smoger allowed the fight to continue. Munoz took more unnecessary punishment before falling for the third and final time.
The fight was mercifully waved off at 1:43 of round three.
The always humble Cruz posted his appreciation on Facebook on Sunday morning, “I’ve lost but I’m still here better than I was before,” Cruz wrote. “I said I wanted to finish my last fight of the year with a bang and I did.”
“Team Cruz is back on track and looking forward to 2014,” Cruz declared.
As per www.peltzboxing.com, Cruz’s 2014 debut could be on March 15. That evening lists the Sands as the potential host for a NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” show.
In the co-feature, lightweight prospect Jason Sosa continued to refine his skills against late replacement Bryne Green. Sosa was originally slated to face New York’s Chazz McDowell. Instead Sosa, 25, did what he was supposed to. He took a few moments to feel out what he had in front of him. He worked well behind his jab and slowly broke Green’s defensive shell down.
Sosa varies the speed of his punches and has found a weapon when hooking off his jab. His money punch, however, is a hook to the body. That punch landed midway through round four and caused Green to crumble to the canvas in a delayed reaction.
Anyone who watched HBO’s “Legendary Nights: The Tale of Gatti-Ward” were treated to experts breaking down why the hook to the body is different from a punch landing on someone’s chin. Green’s head was clear but he suddenly found himself on the canvas. Even worse, he found himself on the canvas and unable to get up until long after the count of 10.
Sosa, of Camden, NJ, seems to be on the fast track toward more meaningful fights in 2014.
Arguably the most dominant performance was turned in by Philadelphia cruiserweight Todd Unthank-May, 8-0 (3). Unthank-May found his range early and seemed to move Kentrell Claiborne, 4-8 (3), with every shot he landed. Claiborne did land a looping right that opened a cut over Unthank-May’s left eye. One could not help but think about the fate suffered when stablemate Gabriel Rosado suffered a cut in his title fight against Peter Quillin. The blood caused a sense of urgency and Unthank-May began throwing heavy one-twos.
Unthank-May’s corner did a nice job on the cut during its only opportunity to treat it. That was because their charge began landing heavy punches. His size and skill allowed him to sit down on his punches and throw as if he were throwing punches downhill. A booming right scored the first knockdown; a left hook to the body caused Claiborne to take a knee and then a final flurry ended the fight at 2:34 of round two.
Unthank-May will be fun to watch as he climbs up the ranks and faces better opposition. Hopefully the cut does not keep him out of the gym for very long. I will also be curious to see where he goes on the scale. He fought at 183 pounds, eight pounds above the light heavyweight limit and 17 pounds south of the cruiserweight limit.
The Lehigh Valley’s most exciting fighter, Arturo Trujillo of neighboring Easton, PA improved to 4-0 (2) by blitzing Indianapolis’ Pablo Sanchez, 1-1 (1). A straight left down the pike sent Sanchez crashing to the canvas a minute into the fight. Sanchez got to his feet and both stood and traded. Fortunately for Trujillo, his punches were straighter and found their target first. A right-left combination ended the fight at the 1:48 mark.
A junior welterweight bout between Allentown’s Jerome Rodriguez, 6-0-2 (2), and Darnell Jiles, 9-3-2 (3), of Rochester, NJ resulted in a draw. All three judges scored the bout 57-57. Neither fighter ever seemed to commit to be the pack leader. Jiles came forward more while Rodriguez soon found a home for his counter punches. Rodriguez threw too many arm punches that scored but were never with the commitment needed to stop Jiles from coming forward. I think a draw was a fair verdict.
Junior welterweight Nathaniel Rivas improved to 2-0 and spoiled the pro debut of Johnathan Williams. Rivas, fighting out of Berlin, NJ, was clearly the more polished fighter of the two. He was comfortable and in control the entire fight. Rivas came close to a stoppage at the end of the third round and continued to land heavy shots during the final frame. To his credit, Williams made it to the final bell but the punishment he took may cause him to rethink his vocation.
There was a successful pro debut on the card. Bethlehem’s Ismael Serrano got his hometown crowd on its feet during the opening bout of the evening. Serrano landed the heavier punches and cleanly won three of four rounds for his first victory against debutant Jean Hernandez. The fight was fun and evenly matched, exactly the kind of fight one should expect on a Peltz-promoted card.
Terrell James, 1-1-1, and Carlo Moore, 0-1-1, waited over two-and-a-half hours before the bell sounded for their walkout bout. After four rounds, the judges could not determine a winner and the fighters had to settle for a majority draw.
Boxing in Bethlehem capped off a successful 2013. Everyone I spoke with after the bout is excited when boxing returns to the Sands in March 2014.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at email@example.com and followed on twitter.com @PribsBoxing.
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