By Cliff Rold
Veteran 29-year old Lightweight Miguel Huerta (27-9-1, 18 KO) overcame a knockdown and rebounded from a loss in his previous outing on Friday night at the American bank center in Corpus Christie, Texas, capturing a unanimous decision over a game but ultimately outmatched Juan Ramon Cruz (15-4-1, 11 KO).
Both men came in slightly above the division limit of 135 lbs., Huerta at 137 and Cruz at 135 ½.
The bout began at a deliberate pace, neither man wasting shots, loading up for maximum affect on what was thrown. Huerta popped the jab while seeking the body of Cruz, a strategy Cruz met on even terms through most of the first two rounds, though a left hook from Huerta in the second did visibly shake the less experienced Cruz.
Early in the third, both men took a turn at a thudding right hook to the body. With slightly more than a minute to go, Cruz landed a nice overhand right but was immediately stunned by an inadvertent clash of heads and stepped backwards towards the ropes, finally covering up late in a flurry of blows from Huerta.
Huerta stayed offensive in the fourth, covering well and countering Cruz with short left and right hooks. A straight right to Cruz along the ropes brought a harder right in response as Cruz forced the bout back to mid-ring. Maintaining consistency with his left jab, Cruz kept the bout there for a stretch, landing a left hand combination to the head and body before Huerta responded with a hard right hand. Huerta finished the round with a left hook to Cruz’s hip.
The rugged combat continued at mid-ring through the fifth and sixth, though Huerta got the better of the exchanges as the seconds wore on, connecting with hooks and adding some head rocking uppercuts. Cruz took no quarter even as a potential deficit in the scoring mounted, still popping the jab, still firing the right and hooking with Huerta downstairs.
In the seventh, Cruz circled more, traded just a bit less, turning the fight in his favor and turning Huerta to the mat. A perfectly timed right hand counter rode straight through the guard of Huerta and deposited him in the rounds final minute. Huerta popped right up, motioning to the referee that he had slipped, receiving the response of a mandatory standing eight count. Huerta shook it off and landed two hard left hooks before the bell while also taking a another leg testing right hand.
With drama added by the end of round seven, Cruz came out probing lightly with the jab in round eight, looking for another needles head to thread his right through. Huerta simply came forward and continued as he had all night, firing the jab with authority. Neither man really seized any discernible advantage and by the ninth the aggression of Huerta seemed to have him fully back in control.
Meeting at ring center to start the tenth and final round, both Cruz and Huerta continued with the game plans they had carried all night, Cruz looking to jab and counter, Huerta looking to work Cruz over. Huerta struck first with a long left hook and the two men measured their output until a glancing uppercut from Cruz broke through midway through the frame. Another big right by Cruz just missed as Huerta doubled up on the jab into the closing seconds of a lackluster close to what had been a decent scrap.
It appeared Huerta had done enough to capture the duke as the bout headed to the scorecards and the judges confirmed as much, handing in a unanimous decision by unanimous scores of 97-92.
The undercard featured young, undefeated new faces, including 19-year old Featherweight Jerry Belmontes (3-0, 1 KO), 129 ½, a hometown local from Corpus Christie, taking on 30-year old trialhorse Martin Armenta (12-18-3, 8 KO) of Mexico. Though he showed little in the way of attempts to win the fight, Armenta, 132 ¼, did make attempts to keep the fans entertained, playing to the crowd and taunting the undefeated youngster in front of him whenever he ate a big power shot. To Belmontes’ credit, he made Armenta eat quite a few and even mixed in a little ham for the crowd as well, blasting away with his left jab, hard rights, and some solid left hooks through all four rounds to capture an easy decision over four rounds.
In the televised opener, fight fans got a look at a fighter worth, well, another look. 18-year old Bantamweight Roberto Marroquin (3-0, 3 KO) of Dallas, Texas walked through Roberto Perez (0-1) in three easy minutes of work.
Marroquin, 119, showed off a range of offensive talent throughout the full three minutes of the bout. Snapping his left jab constantly, he also showed off fluid turns of that jab into a hook and uppercut. The right hand was not forgotten, flying razor straight, and Marroquin showed off nice combination work to the body as well, all to the detriment of Perez, 118 ¼. While the competition was minimal, Marroquin displayed talents well worth watching in the future before the bout was stopped at the bell closing the first round.
Other televised Action
Super Middleweights: Marcos Reyes (7-0, 6 KO) W TKO3 Eusebio Cruz (0-2)
The card was televised live by Spanish language broadcaster Telefutura and was promoted by Top Rank.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]