Erika Cruz realized her dream Thursday night in West Point, New York.
The unknown Mexican featherweight came to the United States Military Academy and upset Jelena Mrdjenovich to win the WBA women’s featherweight title. Cruz won a technical decision because their fight was stopped 25 seconds into the seventh round due to a cut over Mrdjenovich’s right eye.
Judges John Basile (70-63), Glenn Feldman (70-63) and Robin Taylor (70-63) all scored their scheduled 10-round, 126-pound championship match for Cruz in the main event of this “Ring City USA” tripleheader on NBC Sports Network.
Mexico City’s Cruz (13-1, 3 KOs) has won 12 straight fights. Before Thursday night, Mrdjenovich (41-11-2, 19 KOs), of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, had lost just once in the past 8½ years.
Heavyweights Jermaine Franklin (20-0, 13 KOs) and Stephan Shaw (14-0, 10 KOs, 1 NC) were supposed to meet in the main event, but Franklin contracted COVID-19 and withdrew from their bout late last week. The Franklin-Shaw fight could be rescheduled for a later date.
Before their fight was halted early in the seventh round, a left by Cruz buzzed Mrdjenovich with just over a minute to go in the sixth round. Referee Benjy Esteves called for a break to look at Mrdjenovich’s cut later in the sixth round.
Cruz’s left hand connected barely 10 seconds into the fifth round. Cruz continued to press the action in the fifth round. Another straight left by Cruz backed Mrdjenovich into the ropes with 45 seconds to go in the fifth.
Cruz’s right-left combination caught Mrdjenovich with just over 30 seconds on the clock in the fifth.
A left hand by Cruz connected with about 35 seconds remaining in the fourth round. Mrdjenovich caught Cruz with a right hand just before the fourth round ended.
A straight left by Cruz backed Mrdjenovich into the ropes 50 seconds into the third round. Mrdjenovich bled from a cut around her right eye in that round as well.
Mrdjenovich’s straight right landed 15 seconds into the second round. Neither fighter appeared to land a consequential punch in a sloppy opening round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.