Sports

Olympic Gold Medalist Cruz Wins Pro Boxing Debut

Andy Cruz, whose stellar amateur career included Olympic boxing gold for Cuba in Tokyo, launched his pro ring career on Saturday with an impressive unanimous decision victory over experienced Mexican Juan Carlos Burgos.

Cruz looked sharp over all the scheduled 10 rounds at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan, displaying the speed and footwork that saw him dominate the lightweight amateur ranks.

Two judges scored it 100-90 and a third saw it 98-92 as Cruz got his first pro win in the books against a fighter that has twice challenged for a world title.

Burgos, who fell to 35-9 with three draws and 21 knockouts, has never been stopped and Cruz’s promoter Eddie Hearn said he hadn’t expected Cruz to knock him out.

Indeed, he was pleased the fledgling pro got 10 “solid rounds” under his belt.

“I think the most impressive thing is how he’s been aggressive in the whole fight,” Hearn told broadcaster DAZN.

In addition to his gold medal at the pandemic delayed Tokyo Games in 2021, Cruz was a three-time amateur world champion.

He opted to leave Cuba last year to pursue his professional fortunes. The Cuban Boxing Federation said in June of last year he’d been caught trying to leave the country illegally.

In May he had been pulled from making his pro debut with other Cuban fighters in Mexico after the Cuban federation accused him of neglecting his training.

By November, Cruz had made his way out of the country, telling ESPN he had left Cuba “legally” and was ready to write a new chapter in his career.

Hearn thought he was off to a good beginning.

“Still work to do, but beautiful start tonight,” Hearn said.

AFP

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