LAS VEGAS – There might not be a more popular champion crowned in 2024 than Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz, who scored an emphatic eighth-round stoppage of the man many love to hate, Rolando Romero.

Cruz, from Mexico City, snared the WBA's junior welterweight title with a dominant display, not allowing Romero to get settled, pouring on the pressure from the first bell before closing the show in style.

Cruz, 26-2-1 (18 KOs), came out bombing, arcing overhand rights and swiping away with left hooks.

Romero, now 15-2 (13 KOs), was moving as the “Pitbull” chants filled the T-Mobile Arena. With around a minute left in the round, a left hook buckled Romero’s legs and he was all at sea. The crowd lost its mind, but he made it through.

Sat in his corner between rounds, Romero was doused with water, but it looked like he needed something stronger.

Cruz was clubbing away to start the second, investing to the body and then going upstairs, and Romero was trying to keep it long. But Cruz was bulling his way in, loading up and letting them go. They traded right hands to end round two.

Through the third, Rolly had done well to steady the ship. The crowd booed, indicating he was doing something right. If the crowd was frustrated, that probably meant Cruz was, too. But with a minute to go in the session, Cruz cranked up the pace after Rolly had been guilty of staying on the inside too long. Cruz did not need to be invited to work in the pocket, and he duly obliged.

The challenger burst through with a left to the body and a left upstairs in the fourth, and he rocked Romero this way and that with a follow-up barrage as the chants of ‘Me-hi-co” reverberated loudly around the arena.

Romero was warned by referee Thomas Taylor for holding in the fifth, and Taylor then deducted a point from the titleholder for the same infraction later in the session.

Romero said beforehand that he felt he had the power to keep Cruz off him, but “Pitbull” clearly disagreed. Cruz continued to surge forward, thudding in a straight right as Romero moved off to his left.

As the fight progressed, Cruz wasn’t operating at the same frenetic pace he had started with, but he still was able to land a left hook and a right hand. Then, just as Romero started to have some success with his right hand, Cruz cannoned a right uppercut off his chin and Romero was in dire straits.

The titleholder, from Las Vegas, was groggy and desperately tried to hold, but he also bravely tried to fire back to get Cruz off him.

The doctor allowed Romero to come out for the eighth, though there was an air of inevitability about where the fight was headed.

Romero would likely have welcomed the break when the action was paused to fasten tape around one of Cruz’s gloves, but as the fighters reunited in the center of the ring, Cruz crashed through Romero’s gloves with more lefts and rights. The referee had seen enough after 56 seconds of the eighth had elapsed.

The T-Mobile Arena came unglued. Romero had lost his title, and while he had shown courage, he could not stem the avalanches of hooks that eventually curtailed his night.

“Pitbull” had received a rousing ovation, both when the fans caught sight of him in the entrance tunnel before making his ringwalk and once again when he stepped between the ropes. Neither came close to his victory and his pledge to be a champion for a long time, having called out the likes of Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis, the latter of whom beat him via close decision back in December 2021.

“I was prepared for this,” said Cruz. “I wasn’t here to just fight; I was here to terminate him and make him eat everything he said.

“I am not here just as a very dangerous fighter. I now have a title that’s backing me up.”