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Thursday, February 23, 2012
Cruz has a chance against younger Burgos

By Michael Woods


I tried logging on to Boxrec.com last night and couldn't get on. So I couldn't take a deeper look at the record of Cristobal Cruz, the not-so-sterling record of the underdog in the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights," which unfolds at Dover Downs.

I assumed Cruz, a 34 year-old Mexican, would be seen as the underdog against fellow Mexican Juan Carlos Burgos, for starters, because he will bring a record of 39-12-3 to Delaware, while Burgos, who I recalled had been in a title fight against Japanese ace Hozumi Hasegawa back in late 2010, is 28-1.

But then I realized that I was falling pray to an easy assumption. I was assuming that Cruz was the somewhat shopworn steppingstone who'd be in a bit over his head against the WBC silver super featherweight champion Burgos (ranked No. 2 by WBC; turned pro at age 16), who snagged that vacant strap last November, with a majority decision win over 19-0 Luis Cruz.

With Boxrec down, I put in a call to ESPN FNF analyst Teddy Atlas. I knew, being the pro he is, he'd already done ample homework on the mainers, and would be able to tell me, and thus I'd be able to tell you, how much of a shot Cruz likely had against Burgos.

Somewhat of a shot, Atlas told me, hammering home that I'd been a bit quick with the judgment regarding Cruz' so-so winning percentage.

"He's got a chance, Burgos is not a super, superstar," Atlas told me. "Burgos is younger, by ten years, a little more versatile, quicker, a little sharper. But Cruz will be there all night with the right hand. At 34, he's in the twilight, but he had success a couple years ago. His experience is what paid off, and his resiliency. He finally won a title at a later age. (Boxrec coming back up, I was able to see that yes, Cruz beat Orlando Salido, no dog, in 2008 for the IBF featherweight crown. He defended it three times before dropping it back to Salido in May 2010.)

"He's been in a lot of tough fights, what's he got left? Experience, heart, his right hand, which often comes out of left field," Atlas said of the vet who started his pro career at age 14, and has been off for 15 months. The analyst/trainer said we'll see veteran tricks of the trade from Cruz Friday, and that Burgos will need to work to get the W, and make sure he doesn't get hook-happy, and leave himself open for a right hand. Things could get a little sloppy at times, Atlas predicts, but no, in case you are like me, and make premature judgements sometimes based on records, no, he says, Cruz isn't shot.

"Cruz is in the twilight, yeah, he's at that place, but the guy has done some of best work in the twilight," Atlas said. "How many fights does he have left? I wouldn’t say 100, not even 20. But he has enough for a guy who's still a little wet behind the ears. Cruz has a puncher's chance."