LOS ANGELES — Gervonta Davis replacement opponent Isaac Cruz exceeded expectations when the two lightweights squared off at Staples Center on Sunday night for their Showtime pay-per-view headlining fight. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
Cruz substituted for Rolando Romero and certainly proved to be a tougher opponent than most fight prognosticators imagined, taking Tank the distance only to lose a rough and rugged unanimous decision via scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 116-112.
Immediately after the fight, Davis revealed he suffered a left-hand injury in the sixth round. In the post-fight press conference, Davis trainer Calvin Ford revealed that Davis already had suffered a left-hand injury during training camp and he re-aggravated it during the fight.
“Seems like the excuses are plenty right now,” Cruz said during his post-fight press conference. “I fought with bruised knuckles also but I did not make any excuses. I fought the way I fought. He fought the way he thought. There shouldn't be any excuses. The fight was the way that it was.
“Our best achievement, really, was the surprise. I had never seen Gervonta Davis that way. Passive, almost afraid, really. We were able to take him out of his comfort zone ... You know how I know I hurt him? He was trying to grab me when he was hurt, and it was evident.”
Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) outlanded Cruz (22-2-1, 15 KOs) 133 to 121 and the two fighters were nearly identical in power shots landed, per CompuBox.
The Baltimore-bred boxer’s seven-year, 16-fight KO streak came to an end as well. The last time Davis went the distance was 2014 during a six-round unanimous decision win over German Ivan Meraz.
“I'm very happy for the way that I fought against a top-notch opponent. [The fans] got a great show. I'm glad we were able to entertain in a way that made for a great fight,” said Cruz.
“He's a hard puncher, that's for sure. But we prepared well. As you saw, he didn't do any real damage at all. We felt prepared and we stood up to him just fine for 12 rounds.”
Davis immediately stopped any notion of a potential Cruz rematch by proclaiming “hell no” to the thought of a sequel.
Cruz was perturbed by the notion.
“I can't explain it. It's crazy. How do you go from someone that he didn't know at 135 to someone he wants to avoid at all costs for a rematch. It's absolutely astounding,” said Cruz.
“If I had knocked him down, perhaps I would have won the fight.”
Cruz handler Sean Gibbons is expecting a bright future for the 23-year-old boxer. Gibbons said PBC head Al Haymon was "ecstatic about the fight" Cruz out on.
“That's why we fight the fights,” said Gibbons. “We don't fight them on paper. We don't fight them on Twitter. We fight them in the ring. He doesn't need a belt to be a winner. This man was a winner.”
Cruz is looking to continue his momentum against another top name the next time he fights.
“Did I tell you? Or did I tell you? A new Mexican star was going to be born, and that's exactly what happened tonight. I'm proud to be able to perform like that," said Cruz.
"Whoever gives me a chance. I'm ready for whoever."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com