Keyshawn Davis didn’t come away overly impressed by Andy Cruz’s professional debut.
The heavily hyped Cuban prospect easily out-boxed Juan Carlos Burgos in the 10-round opener of Cruz’s pro career Saturday night at Masonic Temple in Detroit. Davis paid close attention to Cruz’s first professional bout because Cruz edged the Norfolk, Virginia native by split decision in the lightweight gold medal match at the 2020 Summer Olympics nearly two years ago in Tokyo.
A professional bout between Cruz (1-0) and Davis (8-0, 6 KOs) seems inevitable, but Davis doesn’t think his rival is ready for that type of fight based on how Cruz beat Burgos.
“If he fights next time and look extraordinary, then the fight is made,” Davis told BoxingScene.com in advance of his own fight against Francesco Patera this Saturday night. “But as of right now, everybody sees that he’s got a lotta catching up to do. That’s why it’s not, ‘Oh, let’s fight right now!’ Because he got a lotta catching up to do. You know what I’m saying? We just gotta wait and see how good he gets over these months, years, whatever.”
Davis dominated Burgos en route to his own easy victory December 10, when he shut out the durable Burgos on all three scorecards in an eight-rounder at Madison Square Garden in New York. The 24-year-old Davis won that bout by the same score, 80-72, on all three scorecards, whereas Cruz recorded a shutout according to two judges (100-90, 100-90) and won eight of 10 rounds on the other card (98-92).
“Even though [Burgos] didn’t come to win, I feel like Burgos always tries to put up some type of a fight to challenge in some type of way,” Davis said. “It wasn’t too much that [Cruz] did for it to be a standout performance. You know what I’m saying? I think it was just an average performance, an average debut, for his age and his experience. You expect a fighter to show something, but for it to be like, ‘Wow!’ Nah, it wasn’t nothing like that. It was like OK, kinda what we expected.”
Davis expected more from the 27-year-old Cruz because he shared the ring with the gifted gold medalist four times when they were amateurs. The Olympic silver medalist would’ve liked to have seen a more diverse offensive attack from Cruz now that he fights without headgear and uses smaller gloves.
“I know his defense is crazy,” said Davis, who went 0-4 versus Cruz. “I know that’s his best attribute, no cap, and we seen that with the footwork. We seen a lot more defense than his offense. And that’s what I wanted see with Burgos, like how creative can you get with your offense? You need to step to people, use your footwork and fight, rather than being on the back foot, countering. That amateur stuff ain’t gonna work. You’re gonna have to sit down on punches, start stepping in and boxing. He showed me a little bit of that, but it just wasn’t no standout performance to me.”
Davis knows how hard, however, it is to beat Burgos (35-8-3, 21 KOs) inside the distance. The Mexican veteran is 2-6-1 in his past nine bouts, but he hasn’t been knocked out during his 18-year, 46-fight professional career.
Now that they’ve both beaten Burgos, Davis knows fans and media will continue to bring up the possibility of Davis-Cruz occurring sooner rather than later in the professional ranks. Davis doesn’t think the potential obstacles of fighting for competing promoters – Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. (Davis) and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing (Cruz) – and platforms – ESPN (Davis) and DAZN (Cruz) – will prevent them from fighting in the foreseeable future.
“I think Eddie Hearn is willing to do something like that,” Davis said. “Eddie Hearn is one of the people who will put his prospects in there before a world title fight, just to make a big fight, because it makes sense. I feel like Eddie Hearn is willing to do that and I know Top Rank believes in me and they would put me in there with anybody in my generation.
“I think that possibly could happen. If in his next performance he look extraordinary and it’s like, ‘Damn! These two really gotta fight,’ I would be pushing like, ‘Let’s fight next. Let’s fight next.’ You know what I’m saying? But we just gotta wait and see, for real.”
Davis is heavily favored – at least 13-1 by most sportsbooks – to beat Belgium’s Patera (28-3, 10 KOs) in the 10-round opener of ESPN’s doubleheader Saturday night at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma (10 p.m. EDT; 7 p.m. PDT). Former unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. (20-2, 10 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, will encounter England’s Maxi Hughes (26-5-2, 5 KOs) in the main event, a 12-round fight for Hughes’ IBO lightweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.