Friday, May 31, 2013

Don't call it a comeback

In 1990, LL Cool J's classic hip-hop song, 'Mama said knock you out' started out with the verse, "Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years." In two weeks when WBC Continental Americas welterweight champion Ronald Cruz (17-1, 12 KO's) steps into the ring at the Sands Event Center in his hometown of Bethlehem, PA, it will be the first time in nine months. However, this is no comeback; he was just following doctor's orders and nursing an injury sustained during training.

Nonetheless, the layoff, especially after the first loss in his career, a controversial split decision, may have been a blessing in disguise for Cruz; and a bad omen for his upcoming opponent Ray Narh (25-2, 21 KO's). That is because it gave him time to reflect on everything that went wrong in his last fight and all he needed to do to correct it. With a reassembled team and a hunger to get back to his winning ways, Cruz (pictured above sparring in blue headgear and gloves) looks ready to do just that.

I spent a couple of hours Thursday night at Cruz's fight camp with Head Trainer Lemuel 'Indio' Rodriguez and Strength & Conditioning Coach Craig Merrick in Cruz's corner and what I saw had me come away repeating one word over and over to myself, "Precision." Everything I saw from training to sparring to punching and even cooling down was precise.

Merrick, head trainer at 'The Nazareth Barbell & Strength Training Center', is a new addition to Cruz's team; one Cruz realized he needed along with a professional nutritionist. "When it came to my diet, I thought I was eating healthy, but I had no idea what a boxer's diet should be," said Cruz; "and as for my conditioning training, I was doing it all wrong; before I would go all out right from the start of my camp eight weeks out. Thus, with three weeks till my fight, I was already burned out."

He went on to say, "Now, working with Craig, I understand how to condition and train properly. He mapped out my whole camp and when I first started working with him I thought to myself, this is easy; that is because he explained there was no reason to go all out right from the start. Thus, now at the middle of my camp, the workouts have become progressively harder and I feel it. With two weeks to go, he's explained to me how we will begin to dial it down slowly, so come fight night, I'll be at my peak ready to go."

Narh wasn't Cruz's original opponent, however when his original opponent got hurt during training, they not only got him another fighter; they got him his toughest fight to date. Narh may not be a household name, but he has world class credentials. A native of Ghana, Narh was on the 2000 Ghanain Summer Olympic Team. As a professional he has a win over former WBA featherweight champion Freddie Norwood and one of his two defeats came in his last fight against current WBO light welterweight champion Mike Alvarado on the undercard of Pacquiao-Mosely; in other words, this is definitely a step up in competition.

However, when I asked Cruz if he had a message for all his fans who have been asking me over the last nine months, "What's up with Ronald Cruz?" He said to me, "Just let them know to be on the lookout, because I'm hungry. I'm not resting on my laurels, I want to become a world champion and I'm working hard to get there." I saw it first hand with my own eyes on Thursday night and I'm here to tell you, "Don't call it a come back." This kid is coming to pick up where he left off.

1 comment:

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