Ronald Cruz knew what he had to do. He had to put away Alberto Morales. Never leave it in the hands of the judges’ scorecards, only heart and pain come from that. To some at ringside, he appeared to be losing on points after nine rounds of his scheduled 10-round bout against Morales at the Sands in Bethlehem, PA. Thursday night.
However, the memories of past pain in close defeats crept into Cruz’ mind, but his will and talent prevailed and helped pave the way to a dramatic win.
“That experience helped me, I have been in that situation before and I know, I learned my lesson,” said Cruz on a phone interview with On “Q” Sports Friday.
Cruz was able to get inside and use his jabs with precision as he tried to wear down a tough and gritty Morales, who led on one judge’s card entering the final round.
Cruz, though, had close one-point edges on the third card.
It took seven rounds for Cruz to really wake up – a round that belonged to him and a round that changed the bout.
“I hurt him, my corner told me to turn southpaw, they have confidence in my southpaw stance, and I can do it naturally. I caught him with a right hook.”
Cruz was able to deliver again in the 10 after losing the ninth round courtesy of that vicious overhead right that caught Morales and ended his night 1:29 into the round.
Cruz’ corner told him he needed a KO to win and Cruz obliged. He scored two knockdowns early in round 10, the second one did in Morales, who fell to 11-3-2 (8 Ko’s).
“I found success in that last round, I used that in the seventh round to stun him and I was able to finish him off in the 10th and beat him.”
“He (Morales) came to win, he got better throughout the fight, he was well prepared and he was where he needed to be for the fight, he was a tough guy. But if you look at me, and you didn’t see the fight you would have not thought I was in a fight today. I am a little sore from throwing punches, but that is common,” said Cruz.
After the first two rounds, it looked like Cruz would be in for a long night, as his first two rounds were shockingly poor. Many within boxing are aware of Cruz’s penchant for starting a bout slower than a line of ducks crossing the street.
Cruz is not known for making any excuses but did say that he thought he was fighting off a cold, which might have weakened him.
“I felt a bit weak, I did what I had to do to get through the fight,” he added. “I think it was the change of weather or something, I felt I was fighting off a cold, and my body was fighting through it.”
Cruz improved to 19-2 (14 Ko’s).
“I have a ton of confidence in myself, when I come into the ring 100 percent, I can beat anyone, when I feel good.”
Talent was never the issue with Cruz. Some question how in the world can a guy spar with some of the best and then get into the ring and look disinterested and not display the same skill he did in high intense sparring sessions.
Cruz sparred against Danny Garcia to get Garcia ready for his upset win over Lucas Matthysse two weeks ago.
Why such a slow starter in these fight?
“I think I am improving with that. I have not shown the best of me, when they see me in the gym, they are like wow, this guy can really box and he is ready for anybody. When I show people that guy, they will start talking and they will see the best in me,” added Cruz.
Cruz could be considered a late bloomer, at just 26 years of age; Cruz started boxing six years ago.
“I learned very fast, I started boxing at 20, to get to the level where I am in such a short of time, shows how talented I am. It takes time and talent. I am improving every day and the more fights, the better I am getting.”
Which begs the question when is the rest of the boxing world going to see the complete Cruz?
“I think we are very close to seeing the complete me, maybe the next fight or next three fights, look the experience is there. This was a great experience for me. I feel very comfortable in the ring, I am not over confident, but I know what I need to do my next fight. To be 100 percent the next time I fight is what I want and need. Next time I will be ready for a guy that pushed me to that level, and then my greatness will shine through.”
Cruz’ next fight could take place relatively soon. He believes he can finish the year off strong with at least two more fights, maybe three and is not shy about who he would like to see in the ring with him.
“I just have not thought of that, I have no problem fighting anyone, but if since you asked me. I am very interested in fighting Kermit Cintron. He has the name, I would like to get him on my resume, and a win would look good on my resume. To beat him, it would be a nice turnout around this area; he is only an hour or so away. I would like to fight him. He is on his way out, and I am on my way in. So I want my shot.”
Cruz likes the appeal of two Puerto Rican boxers taking on each other in the ring.
“It would be good, it would be great for fans and around this area, and fun to see to Puerto Rican fighters going at it,” added Cruz.
Cruz understands that at just 26-years-old, he has a long future ahead of him but also understands that it starts now and it takes time to be a Danny Garcia, someone he admires.
“Man I was very impressed with Danny and so happy for him, how relaxed and how calm he was. I think he will be stronger at 147 lbs. He has power, speed and I am real happy for him and we get along well. We get along real well and he is a great person. I am trying to put Bethlehem on the boxing map, like is doing for Philly. Philly has always been on the map but Danny really is getting people to notice. There are young guys around here, they talk to be, they watch me, and they learn from me, so I want to help them.”
Thursday night might have jumped started his career over, but time will tell.