By Jake Donovan
It was two years since Ray Narh’s last fight and even longer since he ever came close to living up to his ‘Emperor’ nickname. The Ghana-born, Bronx-based boxer certainly looked like royalty on Friday evening, however, in easily turning back the challenge of once promising prospect Ronald Cruz.
Narh picked up his first win in 27 months, doing so in hostile territory in dominating Cruz in his opponent’s hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Cruz was coming off of the first defeat of his career, anxious to resume his winning ways and remain a fixture on the NBC Sports Network Fight Night series.
The opportunity was there for Cruz to shine; he was fighting at home, on his promoter’s (Main Events) show and against an opponent whose own travel issues disallowed him to even arrive in town in time for Wednesday’s pre-fight press conference.
Instead, Narh played the role of wily veteran against an opponent he believed all along was in way over his head the moment he accepted this fight.
“I watched his tape and he wasn’t tough at all,” insisted Narh (26-2, 21KO), whose last win came in March ’11, an ESPN2-televised unanimous decision over faded former featherweight champ Freddie Norwood. “He's a little kid He makes a lot of mistakes.”
Narh won the fight by scores of 100-90, 98-92 and a way-too-close 96-94 to deliver a strong opening to the NBC Sports Network televised tripleheader. The lone hiccup came in round nine, when the 34-year walked into a right hand that left him momentarily shook. Narh quickly recovered, however, and finished the bout strong to preserve the upset victory.
Cruz suffered his second straight defeat – both coming at home – in falling to 17-2 (12KO). At just 26 years old, time is on his side as long as he is able to come away with learning lessons from fights such as how Friday’s affair played out.
“He's strong, I give it to him,” Narh admitted. “But I came to school him.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox