Cruz Wins IBO Featherweight Title
Bill Calogero, TheDailySports.com, Photo by Peter Mark Heintzelman: Cristobal Cruz ruined Thomas Mashaba’s U.S. debut and became the new IBO Featherweight Champion in the process. The main event, which was the last boxing card to be held at Foxwood’s Fox Theater, was broadcast live on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
Article posted on 08.03.2008
Unlike what we have become accustomed with lately on Friday Night Fights, this fight was a well matched, action-packed contest and I doubt anyone who saw it would say otherwise. Even though Cruz threw almost 1600 punches, when I totaled my scorecard, it came out different than the scorecards that actually mattered..
The first round was loaded with action. Both fighters came out looking to make a statement. Cruz was clearly the aggressor and did a great job working the body of Mashaba. Cristobal was able to get both right and left hooks under Mashaba’s defense to score and more importantly, inflict damage on the former Champion. I gave this round to Cruz.
The second round was also filled with action and followed the blueprint of the first round as Cruz continued to work Mashaba’s mid-section. Thomas Mashaba was able to land the more accurate punches and seemed to land the harder, more solid shots, despite Cruz’s fast-paced assault. It was a close round, but on my scorecard, I gave the round to Mashaba.
Thomas Mashaba stepped it up in the third, as he was able to land hard shots to the body and head of Cristobal Cruz. Cruz continued throwing punches, and landed many, but Mashaba was landing the harder shots, resulting in winning the round on my scorecard.
The fourth and fifth rounds provided plenty of action once again, as both fighters traded solid upper cuts. Again, I felt that Mashaba was landing the harder shots, several that looked like they could of sent Cruz to the canvas, but he refused to go down, nor get staggered by Mashaba’s power. Cruz continued to keep his hands going, landing punches, but during both of these rounds, in my opinion, did not land anything damaging. I gave both the 4th and 5th rounds to Mashaba on my card.
The sixth round featured both fighters again landing hard shots on each other. Both felt the other’s power in this round. A solid left-right-left combination sent Mashaba back, clearly stunned, but refusing to go down. Cruz continued to throw his punches in bunches, despite Mashaba’s attempt at coming back strong in the last minute of the round. I gave the round to Cruz on my scorecard.
Both the seventh and eighth rounds were close. They featured both fighters being equally aggressive throwing and landing punches. Cruz continued to keep his punches coming from all angles as Mashaba tried to land his seemingly more powerful shots. Near the close of both the 7th and 8th rounds, Mashaba landed hard rights that honestly I could not believe did not send Cruz to the canvas, proving he has the chin or that Mashaba doesn’t throw as hard of punches as it appears. Either way, I gave the seventh to Cruz and the eighth by a slim edge to Mashaba based on the simple fact that he was landing the harder, more flush punches.
The ninth round was Mashaba’s best. Although Cruz STILL kept his hands going, he was not landing many of his punches flush. Thomas Mashaba on the other hand let his hands go and was landing his punches solidly on his target. As the round progressed, Mashaba battered Cruz to win the round easily on my scorecard.
For the first minute of the tenth, Cruz came out, believe it or not, faster than he had previously in the bout. He was able to work the body and head of Mashaba in a dominating fashion, but as quickly as he started, he slowed down after the first minute had elapsed. The last two minutes of the round went to Mashaba in my opinion, as he once again was able to land a barrage of punches to Cruz’s head. He landed several hard rights that slowed Cruz down, but did not put him in any kind of trouble. I gave the tenth round to Mashaba.
Cruz took control of the fight in the eleventh round. He went back to working Mashaba’s body, which opened up the uppercut. Cristobal landed his powerful uppercut several times, sending Mashaba’s head snapping back. He followed the uppercut with solid shots to Mashaba’s head sending him staggering backwards. Cruz kept coming, throwing and landing punches from every angle and won the round easily on my scorecard.
In the twelfth and final round, Cruz continued where he had left off in the eleventh, battering Thomas Mashaba with a barrage of punches. A solid right put Mashaba in serious trouble at the halfway mark of the round. Cruz went in for the kill, but to my surprise, Mashaba stayed on his feet and finished the round strong, but not enough to win it. I gave the round to Cruz.
One judge saw the fight even at 114-114, while the other two had it 115-113 in favor of Cristobal Cruz giving him the Majority Decision win and the IBO Featherweight Title. TheDailySports.com scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Thomas Mashaba.
Cristobal Cruz improves to 36-11-1 (23 KOs), while Thomas Mashaba drops to 20-2-4 (12 KOs). To be honest, I for one would love to see a rematch.
The Co-Main Event was also an action-packed, well-matched contest. Jose Gonzalez and Jason Le Houllier battled to a ten-round Draw in their Jr. Middleweight bout.
To say this was a bad decision would be an understatement! Jose Gonzalez battered the local fan favorite Le Houllier from the opening bell until the final second of the fight. Gonzalez used his height and arm reach advantage to out box Jason all night. He also landed several devastating body shots during the ten-round contest.
Jason Le Houllier did land some hard, powerful shots of his own, but never once did they seem to hurt or even slow down the non-stop assault of Jose Gonzalez. Just looking at Jason’s face from the fifth round on, one could easily see who was landing the punches and who was not.
I thought there was no doubt in my mind that Jason Le Houllier was about to suffer his first loss as the ring announcer prepared to make the official announcement. To my surprise and more importantly to the surprise of the fans in attendance, one judge scored the fight 97-93 in favor of Jose Gonzalez, one had it 96-94 in favor of Jason Le Houllier while the third saw it even at 95-95, resulting in a DRAW. A sickening decision.
The “local” fans said it all as they BOOED the decision. It was an extremely bad decision and these types of results are just bad for the sport of boxing. Jason Le Houllier was out classed and beaten up. To leave the Fox Theater with a draw was a gift to him and a ROBBERY for Jose Gonzalez.
Jason Le Houllier is a fabricated fighter and was out classed. He has no business boasting an undefeated record. The fight was so one-sided that he should have personally given the win to Gonzalez. It was that bad.
Jason Le Houllier’s padded record now stands at 21-0-1 (8 KOs) and should not consider quitting his day job as a mason. Everyone involved with him should be equally ashamed to be part of this because after witnessing his performance last night, it’s clear that his level of opposition to this point has been a joke and unless he actually learns how to box, will go nowhere.
Jose Gonzalez’s record now stands at 11-2-1 (9 KOs) and has nothing to be ashamed about except that he was part of such a poor decision he had no control of. The two judges that did NOT score this fight in Gonzalez’s favor should be banned from boxing. We should rid ourselves of these incompetent judges from the sport once and for all.
Aside from the decision in the Gonzalez fight, we were treated to a great action-packed night of boxing on Friday Night Fights, which honestly should be the norm, not the exception like it has been for the past couple of years. What was once a broadcast to look forward to, it has become something to struggle to stay awake for. For a welcomed change, this was not the case last night. With the exception of Brian Kenny’s arrogance and lack of boxing knowledge from the studio, it was one of the best ESPN2 Friday Night Fight broadcasts we have seen in a long time. I hope they keep it up.
For full discussions on these fights and all the other top pro boxing news, don’t miss this week’s “Talkin Boxing With Billy C” radio program. Tune into TPSRADIO.net on Wednesdays from 6-8pm EST to listen live, or go to www.TalkinBoxing.com for all information on downloading the podcast of the show as well as ALL previous shows and a listing of all syndicated radio stations where you can hear the “Talkin Boxing With Billy C” radio show.
This Week’s scheduled guests are Baby Joe Mesi, Peter Manfredo Jr. and Pawel Wolak.
Go to www.TalkinBoxing.com for all information on the “Talkin Boxing With Billy C” Radio Program.
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