Friday, February 7, 2014

If opportunity doesn't knock, kick the door open

On Saturday March 15th there is a huge and intriguing boxing card being held at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA. Being televised live on the NBC Sports Network, the main event features a heavyweight title eliminator between Tomasz Adamek (49-2, 29 KO's) and Vyacheslav 'The Czar' Glazkov (16-0-1, 11 KO's). However, the bout on the card that is creating the entire buzz here in the northeast, especially here in Bethlehem where the fight will take place is the co-main event.

That fight features a welterweight clash that is slowly building quite a stir. The fight features former IBF welterweight champion of the world Kermit 'The Killer' Cintron (34-5-2, 28 KO's) facing off against Bethlehem's own welterweight contender Ronald Cruz (20-2, 15 KO's). With Cintron originally being from Reading, PA, which is less than an hour west of Bethlehem, bragging rights is just one facet of interest in this tilt.

Cruz (pictured above) and Cintron, both heavy punchers of Puerto Rican descent, will be fighting for patriotic pride in this Puerto Rican heavily populated part of the country. However, while Cintron is looking to show he still has another title run left in him, Cruz is ready to show the world he's more than a fringe contender. Perennially ranked as one of the top 50 welterweights in the world the last couple of years while he's been on the come up, Cruz is ready to make a leap to the next level.

Cruz, who I've always known to be extremely humble and quiet, is normally one to let his hands do the talking. However, waiting for an opportunity that may never come knocking at his door, Cruz made a decision to kick the door open and create his own opportunity. That is why after his last fight in November, an impressive third round thrashing of rugged Hector Munoz, Cruz openly called out Cintron when he was asked who he would like to face next.

I asked Cruz about this and he told me, "He needed a fight and I needed to make some noise, so I went for it. Considering he's a former world champion originally from this area, I took the opportunity to call him out; luckily it worked itself out." And so because of Cruz's initiative and willingness to step up in competition, we have a very interesting fight coming up next month; one that can have serious implications for the winner, whoever it may be.

I spoke with Cruz's trainer Lemuel 'Indio' Rodriguez about going up against Cintron and he told me, "Ronald is ready for this challenge." He also went on to discuss with me their strategy in facing the former world champion, which I think is a good one; however, he asked me specifically not to divulge it publicly before the fight. Therefore, the world will have to wait till March 15th to see what it is and if it works.

Cruz, who is very active on social media, recently posted a link on his Facebook page to a video showing the tragic circumstances that took place last weekend during a boxing match in Mexico where a fighter ultimately lost his life after the bout. He did it to remind his many fans the sacrifices he and every other professional boxer makes when they step inside the ropes.

I asked him if thoughts of potential harm or concerns ever enter his mind when he steps into the ring. His response was, "I go in knowing the worst can happen, but I prepare myself the best I can to avoid that situation." However, he went on to tell me, "Right before my last fight as I hugged my family to tell them all I love them, which is something I always do, I noticed my 12 year old daughter hugged me tighter than normal. I told my wife about the hug and she explained that our daughter now understands the dangers that may befall me whenever I fight."

Quite compelling stuff, especially when you consider how heavy both Cruz and Cintron punch and what's at stake. Cruz has repeatedly said to his many fans on social media, "2014 will be my year." This fight against 'Killer Kermit' will go a long way in proving that if he wins and wins big.

Besides the heavy hitters at the top of the card, ticket holders may want to get there early as Cruz has a teammate who is making his professional debut on the undercard. What's the big deal about a pro debut you may ask? Well according to everyone I have spoken too, this kid may just be the next big thing out of 'Ron and Indio's Boxing Gym'.

An unknown prodigy of sorts who came to Bethlehem, PA from Caguas, Puerto Rico just two years ago, super bantamweight Luis Acevedo had over 96 amateur bouts on the island with less than 10 defeats on his record. This 22 year old told me he started boxing at the age of 8 years old at the urging of his father and has been doing it ever since. From top to bottom this card next month at The Sands looks to be the biggest one to date at this new Mecca for boxing here in the northeast.

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