Dan Rafael: Ronald Cruz

Prospects Spence, Wade step up

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25
Errol SpenceHarry How/Golden Boy/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesUnbeaten southpaw Errol Spence Jr. takes on his toughest opponent to date in Ronald Cruz on Friday.
Welterweight Errol Spence Jr., a 2012 U.S. Olympian, and middleweight Dominic Wade are two of America's brightest boxing prospects and they are both stepping up the level of their opposition on Friday (Showtime, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT) when they appear on a "ShoBox: The New Generation" card at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Spence (12-0, 10 KOs), 24, of Dallas, in his second scheduled 10-round fight, will take on Ronald Cruz (20-3, 15 KOs), 27, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the main event and Wade (15-0, 11 KOs), 24, of Washington, will be in his first scheduled 10-rounder against Nick Brinson (16-1-2, 6 KOs), 26, of New York, in the opener.

The telecast was originally slated to be a tripleheader with 2012 U.S. Olympian Marcus Browne in a light heavyweight scrap with former world title challenger Yusaf Mack, which would also have been a step-up for Browne, but Golden Boy Promotions announced on Wednesday that the fight has been canceled because Mack "failed a blood examination." No other details were disclosed.

With Mack out, Browne (10-0, 7 KOs) will face late substitute Donta Woods (8-2, 7 KOs), who has lost his last two. Showtime is not going to show the replacement fight, only highlights, according to the network.

Many regard Spence, a southpaw, as the best pro prospect off the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. He is facing the experienced Cruz, who is coming off a competitive decision loss to former titleholder Kermit Cintron on March 15. His other defeats are decisions to solid pros Ray Narh and Antoine Smith.

So Spence is not only facing a better grade of opponent than he has so far as a pro, he is also probably going to have to go deeper into the fight than he did for his first scheduled 10-rounder on April 18, when he scored a first-round knockout win against Raymond Charles. Still, Spence is very confident.

"This is a 10-rounder, so I'm just doing a lot more rounds of sparring now, like 10 or 12 rounds," Spence said. "I think Ronald Cruz is a good, durable boxer. He comes forward with his hands up, tries to counter a little bit. But I fight guys like that all the time. I spar guys like that all the time.

"I won't have to look for him because he's going to be right there in front of me. I'll just counter off his shots and look for openings."

Cruz, despite 23 professional fights, will be facing a southpaw for the first time.

"I actually don't mind sparring with them," Cruz said. "I've got a good trainer that has shown me all the tricks to beat a southpaw, so it's no big deal. I actually like it better. Not only my right hand, but my left hook works better on a southpaw.

"He's young, he's obviously hungry and he's on his way to being a world champion. I just feel they took this fight at the wrong time. It's too soon, too early for him."

Wade is a tremendous puncher, who is starting to get into a more regular fighting schedule after missing all of 2012 and fighting only twice in 2013, in part because he spent some time incarcerated. He will be facing easily the best opponent of his career in Brinson.

"I think he has a wild style, but I can get him," Wade said. "I don't think too highly of him. He just throws those little punches in bunches, but they are all wild. I plan on keeping it short and simple.

"I've never fought anybody that fights like him, but I've been sparring guys that do the same crazy stuff and I have it down pat. I can bang and box. Mainly, I'm going to pressure you and I'm going to come. I'm going to give the people want they want to see. I keep coming."

Brinson defeated Wade in the 2008 National Golden Gloves and scored an upset decision on "ShoBox" when he won a wide 10-round unanimous decision against Jorge Melendez.

"I think Dominic is a really good fighter," Brinson said. "I think he's very talented. He has fast hands, throws a lot of combinations and has a great amateur background. But there are a lot of things he doesn't do that I do well. He's the favored fighter and I don't want to take anything from him because I want all the credit when I beat him."

Injury thrusts Rosado into spotlight

September, 20, 2012
A back injury to former light heavyweight titlist Gabriel Campillo has pushed junior middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado into the spotlight.

Campillo was supposed to face Russian prospect Sergey Kovalev in the main event of a "Fight Night" card on Friday night (NBC Sports Net, 9 ET) at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Bethlehem, Pa. But when Campillo pulled out a couple of weeks ago because of a back injury, Main Events turned the Rosado-Charles Whittaker title eliminator -- which was a late addition to the show in the first place after Main Events won a purse bid to promote the bout -- into the main event.

Now, Philadelphia's Rosado (20-5, 12 KOs), who looked good in his previous two fights by knocking out Sechew Powell and Jesus Soto Karass on "Fight Night" cards, is a solid favorite to take care of the Cayman Islands’ Whittaker (38-12-2, 21 KOs). The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for the 154-pound belt held by Cornelius "K9" Bundrage.

"It's a great opportunity again to be in the main event on NBC Sports Network," said the 26-year-old Rosado, who is riding a six-fight winning streak. "I'm excited to showcase my skills nationally again. I've trained extremely hard. We finished up our last couple of weeks in camp in Phoenix. Camp was great there and I feel strong. I am not taking Charles Whittaker lightly.

"I expect him to bring his 'A' game and I'm ready for that. I want him to come with his 'A' game because it will bring out the best in me. [Co-promoter] Russell [Peltz] said I am ranked No. 3 [by the IBF], but after Friday I will be ranked No. 1. I feel like mentally and physically I will break him down. I will set him up in the early rounds and I will take him out in the middle rounds. My plan is to get him out of there by the sixth round."

It's a bold prediction from Rosado because Whitaker, 38, is on a 14-fight winning streak since 2004, although he has faced modest opposition. He has not been stopped since a fifth-round TKO loss to Vincent Harris in 2000, a defeat that came in the midst of a five-fight losing streak.

Whitaker said he has watched plenty of Rosado and knows he's not in for an easy fight.

"Gabriel is young. I've seen a few of his fights," Whitaker said. "He comes hard and he comes in shape. He says he is going to be No. 1 and I know I'm going to be No. 1 after Friday. The fans are going to be the recipient of a great fight."

The tripleheader will also include Kovalev (18-0-1, 15 KOs) against a new opponent in New York’s Lionell Thompson (12-1, 8 KOs) and welterweight Ronald Cruz (17-0, 12 KOs), who is responsible for the bulk of the ticket sales since the fight is in his hometown, meets Antwone Smith (21-4-1, 12 KOs) of Miami.

Campillo to headline 'Fight Night'

July, 13, 2012
When Main Events promoter Kathy Duva landed an exclusive deal to put on "Fight Night" cards for NBC Sports Network, she promised competitive and interesting matches and said she wouldn't take the series for granted just because her company had all the dates -- unlike other promoters who have had sweetheart output deals and taken the money and run.

So far, Duva's word has been her deed: The shows have been solid all the way around and have included the likes of Tomasz Adamek, Zab Judah, emerging heavyweight prospect Bryant Jennings, rejuvenated junior middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado and others.

The series is off for the rest of the summer because NBC Sports Network will soon be inundated with coverage of the London Olympics, but boxing will be back on Sept. 21 from the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa., with yet another quality card.

In the main event, Spain's Gabriel Campillo (21-4-1, 8 KOs), a former light heavyweight titlist who is managed by middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, will face Russian prospect Sergey Kovalev (18-0-1, 16 KOs).

It's an interesting fight. Campillo, who got robbed in a split-decision loss to titlist Tavoris Cloud in February, is coming back to face a dangerous prospect. Kovalev is hoping to make a statement against a well-respected former titleholder who remains a legit top-10 light heavyweight.

Two other blemishes on Campillo's record are also highly questionable: a split-decision title loss to Beibut Shumenov in 2010 and a draw with Karo Murat in Germany in October.

"Campillo has arguably beaten two world champions and the No. 1 contender without receiving the decisions," Duva said. "After he stopped Darnell Boone on NBCSN in June, Kovalev stated that he is ready to fight for the world title. On Sept. 21, he will get the opportunity to prove to the world that he is worthy in a very tough fight. A win for Campillo would put him right back into the title picture."

To Duva's credit, she said she is putting Campillo on without asking for any options on him from his promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz. That's an unusual move in the brutal business of boxing, but Duva knows the key to making the series a success is to put on consistently strong fights -- even if that means using fighters she doesn't necessarily promote.

The co-feature also figures to be competitive with Bethlehem, Pa., welterweight Ronald Cruz (17-0, 12 KOs) facing Miami's Antwone Smith (21-4-1, 12 KOs). Cruz looked good in his most recent fight, rolling to a lopsided 12-round decision against Prenice Brewer on the June 1 edition of "Fight Night."