Jose Valenzuela has called for a fight against Isaac Cruz for over a year.
The 23-year-old lightweight contender can only hope their handlers put that intriguing lightweight fight together if they win their upcoming bouts on the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Luis Ortiz undercard September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Valenzuela is scheduled to face former WBA super featherweight champion Jezzrel Corrales as part of that FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show, whereas Cruz is set to encounter Eduardo Ramirez.
Mexico’s Valenzuela is fully focused on Corrales, but he would love the opportunity to prove his readiness for a title shot by boxing Cruz.
“I think that’s a great fight,” Valenzuela said during a virtual press conference Tuesday to promote the Ruiz-Ortiz card. “If you’ve been following me on my career, I’ve been asking for Isaac Cruz [since] before he fought Tank. And after I beat Corrales, hopefully they can make that fight happen. I know me and my team are down to do it, so I’m hoping his team and himself are down to do it.”
Valenzuela respects Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KOs) for how his fellow Mexican gave Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) a difficult fight last December 5 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The strong southpaw warned, though, that Cruz wouldn’t have the same success against him as when he lost to Davis by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight for Davis’ WBA world lightweight title.
“He gave him a good fight,” Valenzuela said. “He gave him a good fight, but, you know, he didn’t win. People are praising him like he won, and like he’s just a great fighter. But, you know, that’s OK. I think that’s good for him, for his career, but when he comes against me it’ll be a totally different fighter.”
Cruz beat up Cuban veteran Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-5, 18 KOs) on his way to a fifth-round, technical-knockout victory in his most recent fight, which took place April 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Earlier that night, Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KOs) knocked out former WBC super featherweight champ Francisco Vargas (27-4-2, 19 KOs) in the first round of a scheduled 10-rounder on the Errol Spence Jr.-Yordenis Ugas undercard.
Though no previous opponent had done that to Vargas, Corrales (26-4, 10 KOs, 1 NC) figures to be much more durable when he squares off versus Valenzuela in their 10-rounder.
Powerful Puerto Rican southpaw Alberto Machado is the only opponent who has stopped Corrales inside the distance. A then-unbeaten Machado (22-3, 18 KOs) knocked out Corrales in the eighth round of their October 2017 bout at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York to win the WBA 130-pound crown from him.
Corrales, 31, is 3-0 since Brooklyn’s Chris Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs) beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight for the WBA interim super featherweight title in January 2020 at Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
Valenzuela realizes Corrales won’t be an easy out and the Seattle resident made it clear that he isn’t looking beyond boxing the experienced southpaw.
“I’m not about to overlook Corrales at all,” Valenzuela said. “He’s a [former] world champion and all my focus is on him. I’m not even thinking about Isaac or anybody else. I’m just answering the question I was asked about ‘Pitbull’ or anyone else that might come in the future.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.