Monday, February 27, 2012

The second coming of The Body Snatcher


In the '80's and '90's there was a three-division boxing champion named Mike McCallum whose body attack was so vicious, he was eventually given the moniker 'The Body Snatcher'. McCallum was so proficient at using that style; he ended up winning 49 of 54 pro fights and three world titles on his way to a Hall of Fame career. This weekend, I may have seen the second coming of The Body Snatcher.

Welterweight Ronald Cruz (16-0, 12 KO's), who has been referred to in boxing circles as 'Hands of Steel' because of his punching power and his hometown of Bethlehem, PA, continues to make waves along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. This past Saturday @ Bally's in Atlantic City, Cruz (pictured to the left), currently ranked as high as #15 by the IBF, punched his way to a unanimous decision victory over tough Allen Conyers (12-6, 9 KO's) from The Bronx, NY. Conyers is nicknamed 'The Dream Shatterer', but on this night the dream continued.

Conyers, who had a five inch height and decisive reach advantage, may have appeared to Cruz as though he was tangling with a tarantula. Early on he kept Cruz at bay with a stiff jab, however Cruz, a natural orthodox fighter, countered by fighting in a southpaw stance. Cruz told me, "I thought he was going to bum rush me early, so my thought process was to counter his jab by side stepping and hooking to the body."

The strategy seemed to work to perfection as at the end of the first round, Cruz caught Conyers with a combination hook to the body and head that dropped his opponent to the canvas. Although Conyers got up, he was lucky to be saved by the bell. Instead of pouncing on his opponent and making any mistakes, Cruz used a pronounced approach in the second round, which allowed Conyers to gather himself.

Meanwhile, Cruz stayed in a southpaw stance until the fifth round when Conyers caught him with a hard left-right combination to the head that had Cruz against the ropes and in serious trouble for the first time in the fight. Weathering the storm, Cruz came back in the sixth switching back to his normal orthodox stance and had his best round of the fight, He caught Conyers with some right overhand bombs to the head that nearly ended his night; once again the end of the round was on Conyers side.

Going ten rounds for the first time in his career, after previously never going past six, Cruz continued to switch stances throughout controlling the pace and winning big with two scores of 99-90 and 98-89 on the other. I asked Cruz's trainer Lemuel 'Indio' Rodriguez if starting out southpaw and switching stances was a planned strategy going in? His response was, "No; Ronald likes to start that way a lot of times to see what his opponent has to offer. Then when I notice something in the corner, I let him know what it is and tell him when to switch."

Rodriguez wasn't the only one in Cruz's corner that night as Ronald as always had veteran cutman Jim Williams with him. Williams, 75 years old, has been in this business for over 40 years learning his trade from 'Gypsy' Joe Harris. After the fight Williams was so elated, he told me, "I am so proud of this kid the way he fought tonight. He's such a humble kid; I am honored to be in his corner." The pride was echoed by his manager Jimmy Deoria who also told me, "I'm so proud of Ronald the way he fought tonight."

That pride is what drove me and countless others from Bethlehem, PA to converge on Atlantic City this weekend. There is a brotherhood in this city that extends far beyond the Puerto Rican community that supports Cruz. His fan base from back home consists of African-Americans, Caucasians and females alike all with one common bond, The Christmas City. I asked Ronald after the fight if he could hear his fans cheering for him. He told me, "Yes I did, it felt great. It's extra motivation to fight harder for them."

His hometown fans may not have to wait long to see him again as there are tentative plans for Cruz to step back into the squared circle on June 1st. They may not have to drive as far either because the plan is to have the fight most likely in the brand new Events Center at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA. Get ready Bethlehem, the second coming of The Body Snatcher is coming home.

2 comments:

  1. Once again, Sam you have written a beautiful entry. Keep up the great work and will see you June 1ST!!! Can't Waite!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks EddieMo for the kind words and more importantly for reading. Like you, I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete

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