Highlights: Andy Cruz Vs. Jovanni Straffon

2020 Olympic gold medalist Andy Cruz (2-0, 1 KOs) picked up his second career win with an impressive third round technical knockout victory over journeyman Jovanni Straffon (26-6-1, 19 KOs) in a fight that was overshadowed by the performance of Devin Haney in the main event against WBC light welterweight champion Regis Prograis last Saturday night at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California.

After the fight, promoter Eddie Hearn beamed like a proud papa, saying that he felt Cruz was ready to beat  135-lb champions Shakur Stevenson and Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis. Hearn says Andy Cruz will be ready to fight for a world title in 2024. Of course, whether he’ll get that shot is another matter.

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He also said that Keyshawn Davis, a fighter that he’d defeated in the 2020 Olympics, would be an “easy” fight for him.

Andy Cruz needs to be moved quickly

Unfortunately, Cruz will likely be frozen out by Shakur and Tank Davis, who will avoid him and let him age. Though Cruz is listed as 28, some fans believe his age has been intentionally falsified and that he’s 35 years old. He must be thrown into the deep waters immediately if the rumors are true.

Cruz looks very old, and reminds one of how Guillermo Rigondeaux looked considerably older than his listed age when he turned pro after coming out of Cuba.

If Hearn is going to do anything with Cruz to turn him into a star, he’s going to need to move him at light speed, keeping him very, very busy, because the way he’s don’t it now, having him fight just twice in 2023, it’s not going to work.

He’s too old to be a prospect that is moved slowly the way Hearn is doing. Cruz needs to fight six to ten times a year to become a star, and that won’t happen. He’ll likely end up like Demetrius Andrade did with Hearn, fighting unknown British fighters and his career stagnating.

The 28-year-old Cruz, trained by Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis’ dad, Derek ‘Bozy’ Ennis, showed major improvements in his power game, especially with his right hand.

In the third round, Cruz, fighting a lot like Boots, unloaded with a flurry of shots that forced referee Edward Collantes to step in and wave it off.

The fight could have been stopped a round earlier in the second when Cruz trapped the 30-year-old Straffon against the ropes and bombarded him with shots to the head.

Cruz to be kept active

“I can’t explain the feeling to have a fighter that you would put him in with anyone and be confident that they win against anyone,” said promoter Eddie Hearn last Saturday night to Matchroom Boxing, discussing his thoughts on the win for Cuban lightweight contender Andy Cruz over Jovanni Staffon at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

“Honestly, that’s almost how I feel about Andy Cruz. I know we can get excited and talk about guys at 135, like Shakur, Tank, but as good as I think Shakur and those guys, I think Andy Cruz can beat them now. He’s had two fights,” Hearn continued.

It doesn’t matter what Hearn says about his belief that Cruz can beat Shakur & Gervonta. If they freeze him out, he’s going to be too old soon, or he’ll outgrow the 135-lb division.

If you saw how big Cruz looked last Saturday night, looking like a big 140-pounder, it’s reasonable to assume that he’ll need to move up to light welterweight next year or in 2025.

Cruz would be better off moving up to 140 in 2024 because he will languish at 135 and be avoided as if he’s invisible by the top guys. Top Rank isn’t going to help Hearn out by letting Cruz get a title shot against Shakur, and he forgets about Tank Davis because that fight isn’t going to happen in this lifetime.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. Let’s not get carried away. [Juan Carlos] Burgos was the debut, and Straffon [was the second fight]. The way that he dismantled that strong, tough Mexican,” said Hearn.

“Sometimes, the question marks about Andy Cruz being of such a great amateur pedigree was perhaps he doesn’t hit hard enough, perhaps he’s not aggressive enough, but then he is tonight. He starts sitting down on his shots.”

Cruz has got the power and the Boots Ennis-esque fighting style now, as he’s clearly patterning his pro style after the IBF welterweight champion.

Andy looks enormous for the 135-lb division, and his power likely won’t be as good when he moves up to 140, but he will have to make the move whether he wants to or not.

Again, he won’t get any big fights at 135 because he’s not with those promoters, and Gervonta is arguably being protected by dangerous opposition by his management.

“[Derek] Bozy Ennis has got him punching with power, fighting on the inside, fighting long,” said Hearn about Cruz. “He was just unbelievable. The shot selection. Watch it carefully with the way he picks the body apart and brings the hands down, and then he’s counter-punching and fighting on the inside; he’s forcing his opponent back,” said Hearn.

Andy fighting in February

“We need to get him active. I would probably like to see him fight a month or two earlier, but because this was such a big show, we wanted him on here [at Chase Center on Devin Haney vs. Regis Prograis undercard],” said Hearn.

Eddie should have gotten Cruz out earlier than December, as he last fought in July, and that was a long time ago for a fighter his age. Hearn should be sticking Cruz on all of his shows against the best possible opponent he can fight, preferably U.S. fighters rather than obscure British guys.

If Cruz is going to become a star, it’s going to be with U.S. fans, not in the UK. So, it’s important that he fights American fighters that U.S. fans are familiar with.

“I’d like to get him out in February, pick off another guy in the top 15, and then move towards a 100% world title shot in 2024. I love Keyshawn Davis; I think he’s a real good talent,” said Hearn about a former victim of Andy Cruz during the amateurs.

“No one is really talking about him, which is a shame because he’s a really good fighter. Keyshawn is great, but Andy is on another level. We saw that in the amateurs, and it’s an easy fight for Andy Cruz,” saw Hearn about his view that Cruz beats Keyshawn with ease in the pro ranks if that fight is made in the future, which it probably won’t be anytime soon if ever.

If Cruz moves up to 140 in February, he can be in the mix to fight for the WBC title once Devin Haney vacates, which will likely be soon.  There are exciting fights available for Cruz at 140 against these guys:

Gary Antuanne Russell
Arnold Barboza Jr.
Sandor Martin
Shohjahon Ergashev
Ryan Garcia
Richardson Hitchins


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