Toyota Center, Texas - A battle between power-punching Mexico City natives, saw 23-year-old top lightweight contender Isaac Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KOs) score a wide unanimous decision over former champion Francisco Vargas (27-3-2, 19 KOs). The official scores were 100-89, 99-90 and 97-92.
"What can I say? I’m elated,” said Cruz. “This was exactly the kind of fight we expected. ‘Bandido’ was crafty and fought his fight, that allowed him to stay on his feet until the 10th round. Lots of embracing, but we knew how to manage it.”
Cruz, who shot up the lightweight rankings in 2020 and punctuated his year with an electrifying first-round knockout over Diego Magdaleno in September, came out early looking for a similar result. Cruz continued to throw power punches, including his signature overhand right, but Vargas was able to avoid any devastating blows. It was the 36-year-old Vargas who was the more active fighter, throwing 586 punches compared to Cruz’s 548. However, Cruz out-landed Vargas 188-148 and landed 43 percent of his power shots en route to the victory.
“We proved to be in top shape, our conditioning paid off,” Cruz continued. “I think fans were happy, because this is what all of Mexico and the Toyota Center wanted to see. I think Vargas held on to me more than he’s used to and couldn’t put on the show he usually does, and we couldn’t counter that. However, I value the fact that I learned that lesson.”
Cruz consistently led with his head, resulting in a number of head clashes, including in the eventful 10th and final round which led to a significant cut over Vargas’ right eye that the Mexican warrior fought through. In the final minute of the fight, Cruz sent Vargas to the canvas for just the second time in his career with a barrage of punches, topping off an impressive performance.