By Jake Donovan
The last time Orlando Cruz appeared on the Boxeo Telemundo series, he delivered a career-resurrecting performance, scoring a first-round upset knockout of Michael Franco last October.
His latest showing featured a similar ending. He just took much longer to get the point.
Overcoming a slow – and rough – start, Cruz prevailed in the later rounds, putting away a game Alejandro Delgado in the 11th round of their Telemundo-televised main event Friday evening at Palm Bay (FL) Community Center.
The official time was 2:59 of round eleven.
While the ending was emphatic, the fight was by no means a cakewalk for Cruz, who fell behind early on as Delgado fought like a man with something to prove. The Mexican had lost three of his last five contests and on the verge of journeyman status should his losing ways continue.
The final box score will show yet another defeat, but Delgado showed in the first two rounds that he’s capable of putting his skills to use. Cruz struggled to deal with his opponent’s natural aggression, as Delgado didn’t appear to have any problems adapting to his opponent’s southpaw style.
Cruz picked up the pace in the third round and from there found himself in a back-and-forth battle that would prove to be a war of attrition. Delgado refused to give an inch for as long as he could keep up, but unfortunately lacked the extra gear to contend with Cruz once the bout made its way into the deep end of the pool.
By the ninth round, it was clear that Delgado’s punches lacked the zip necessary to swing things back in his favor. Cruz was well aware of this fact, and considerably stepped up his attack. The Puerto Rican was in full control down the stretch, but gave the crowd a thrill just when it appeared he would be content with coasting to the finish line.
Instead, yet another highlight reel moment came, though one barely caught by the Telemundo cameras. Cruz scored two knockdowns late in the 11th round, the latter putting Delgado down and out for the night. The second knockdown left Delgado flat on his back just before the bell, though the timing of the sequence was nearly missed as producers immediately cut to a commercial break in anticipation of the end of the round.
Fortunately for the staff on hand, not another punch would be thrown.
With the win comes a winning streak for Cruz, who has scored knockouts in each of his last two contests. The hard-hitting southpaw – though you wouldn’t know it by his KO to win ratio - advances to 18-2-1 (9KO).
Delgado drops his second straight and now four out of his last six as he heads back to Mexico with a mark of 15-6 (7KO).
The pair of knockout wins for Cruz come on the heels of a 20-month hiatus that was prompted by consecutive knockout losses. Cruz suffered a shocking 5th round loss at the hands of perennial spoiler Cornelius Lock on the pay-per-view televised undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s ’09 ring return, when he pitched a virtual shutout of Juan Manuel Marquez.
Five months later came more bad news, as a road trip to Mexico resulted in a three-round blitzing of former titlist Daniel Ponce de Leon in Feb. ‘10. The back-to-back losses were enough to force Cruz to the sidelines to regroup before returning with a vengeance last October in his opening round stunner of previously unbeaten Michael Franco.
Melbourne (FL)-based super middleweight Fadoul Louis (3-0, 1KO) has a very long way to go before even garnering a modicum of consideration for his "Brown Bomber" nickname. Still, the unbeaten Puerto Rican impressed in pitching a near-shutout over Orlando's own Danny "El Bebo" Pastrana (4-3, 1KO). Scores were 40-35 and 39-36 (2x).
Albany-born prospect Amir Iman, now fighting out of Florida, had no problem taking care of journeyman Devarise Crayton in their televised swing bout. Iman (3-0, 2KO) bumrushed the Orlando fighter early, ending matters in the 2nd round when a right hand and left hook left Crayton (7-12-2, 3KO) defenseless along the ropes.
The show was presented by All-Star Boxing, who plans five more Florida-based Telemundo shows in 2012, along with five more live from Mexico.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]