Unbeaten Ronald Cruz Keeps Beating the Odds
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 10, 2011)
Bethlehem, PA, is known at Christmas time for their large tree with the “star” on top. There is another “star” in the making there named Ronald Cruz who was born in Manati, PR, and came to Bethlehem at an early age. His defeats of 3 much more experience boxers in his last 3 fights have some heads turning from Philadelphia to Atlantic City.

Cruz was 25-3 as an amateur out of the Bethlehem Boxing Club under Alex Morales. He came there as a 19 year old who was always getting in fights even after he left Freedom H.S. One of his fights was with the son of Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Jesse Hart. Cruz gave away weight and suffered one of his few losses. Hart is one of the best 165’s in the country now attending Northern Michigan U.

Another was in York, PA, with Stevie Weimer. “No way I lost that fight,” said Cruz. His 28 fights were only over a 13 month period. “I had to tell Ronald you can’t fight every month as a pro. Just 2 days after his last fight he called to see when he was fighting next. We asked for Weimer and even go to York. We asked for Jason Cintron and Kennan Collins in Reading. I guess going to the gym and getting the best of them didn’t help,” said Deoria.

“I have never been knocked down as a pro or amateur,” said Cruz. He turned professional in January of 2009 at South Philly’s New Alhambra winning every round in a 4 over Joel Rijos. “He was a tough guy and it was a learning experience,” said Cruz. He followed up with knockouts over Andrew Duncan and Russell Cloak.

A decision win in his second appearance for Don Elbaum at the Blue Horizon over Lashannon Hill, 1-0, finally had Cruz near his hometown in his next fight. “I got cut (top of his head) for the first time in the Hill fight. He kept moving a lot,” said Cruz. The Reading, PA, promoter put him in tough against Norman Allen, 6-1 (3), from Laurel, MD, who didn’t come off the stool after the first round.

That gave Cruz 5 wins in 5 months. At the end of summer Cruz crossed the river into Atlantic City to meet tough Julias Edmonds, 5-4, from Philadelphia in his first 6. It was a war ending in the third round with Edmonds quitting in his corner with blood coming out of his ear. It was the first time he was stopped. Cruz came in at his lowest career weight to date at 140.

This was the first fight for Cruz with Philadelphia’s J Russell Peltz who liked what he saw and signed him to a contract with his manager Jimmy Deoria. Deoria was a good lightweight in his days at 20-7 while serving as a police officer in the Phoenixville, PA, area. The main event featured Philly’s top boxer Mike “MJ” Jones. Jimmy Williams is co-manager of Jones and now serves as cut man for Cruz, too. “He spars with Mike (Jones) and holds his own. He is not a bleeder but the second cut in the Cruz fight was worse than the first. He improves with every fight and is a deceiving puncher,” said Williams.

Cruz finished up the year in November back at Bally’s in Atlantic City for the second straight time chasing down Ashantie “Volcano, Hendrickson, 1-4, out of NY, who was a late substitute, over 6 rounds. In February of 2010 Cruz was “lent” back to the Blue Horizon to take on veteran Martinus Clay, 13-23-4. Clay was no stranger to Cruz or Deoria. Besides being in with Mike “MJ” Jones, Andre Berto, Kaseem Ouma, Tim Coleman and Lanardo Tyner he had defeated Matt Vanda, then 34-1 along with a draw. Also, a short notice rematch loss to Harry Yorgey after they had fought to a draw, then16-0 and 19-0-1 who was out of the Deoria camp.

This writer was at ringside wondering if the young Cruz was ready for the veteran. I didn’t have long to wait as Cruz took Clay apart before knocking him out in the third round. Cruz came in at his heaviest weight so far at 147 ½. Next up was back to Atlantic City against Puerto Rico’s Juan Ramon Cruz, 16-8-1, who had been in with unbeaten boxers Anthony Peterson and Urbano Antillon.

“I pressure these guys and am relentless. Though I beat him I was cut again and it put me out of action for 5 months,” said Cruz. He stopped his opponent at the end of 4 rounds in what could have been his last 6 rounder. His next fight had an added little incentive to it when a local writer called his manager the day of the fight and said “what are you trying to do ruin that kid?” The opponent would be Jeremy Bryan, 14-1 (7), of NJ, back in Atlantic City for 8 rounds. Bryan could box or slug it out and was a two-time National Golden Gloves champion.

For the first 3 rounds Bryan had his way with machine like punches that Cruz took well and would go back to his corner with a smile on his face. He knew it was just a matter of time. “I hang in there with these guys and I knew I would get to Bryan,” said Cruz. Get to him he did scoring 2 knockdowns in the fifth and one more in the sixth before the referee called a halt at 0:59 of the round.

This writer was standing next to the writer who made the phone call to Deoria that morning and Deoria yelled down to him while Cruz was leaving the ring. Cruz walked up to both of us asking who wrote for so and so and I as a good Samaritan helped him out by pointing to the other guy who by this time was stuttering and I thought I detected the smell of urine. Cruz said to him “how’d you like that fight?” With a smile the writer said “you did really good”. I almost missed my interview I was laughing so much.

Cruz is scheduled to fight for the fifth time at Bally’s in Atlantic City on February 26th. He has a new trainer in Lemuel “Indio” Rodriguez and now trains out of the Boxx Lehigh Valley Club in Bethlehem. Cruz has a very big fan base that travel several hours to get to the casino resort but they are a faithful group. Cruz is very serious minded and he isn’t worried if he has to take a punch to land one.

“We hope to have Ronald fight at least 4 times in 2011 starting in February in Atlantic City. We’d like to fight Mike “No Joke” Stewart in DE at Dover Downs,” said Deoria. Dover Downs Casino plans to run every other month in 2011 and Stewart was the last main event fighter they had there from DE. One could only imagine if the Bethlehem Casino opens up for boxing how well Cruz would draw there. One thing you can bet on is NOT to bet against Ronald Cruz!

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