TOLEDO, OH - Nearly 10,000 fans turned out for hometown hero Robert Easter (19-0, 14 KOs) as he impressively defended his lightweight world title against Puerto Rico's Luis Cruz (22-5-1, 16 KOs) at the Huntington Center in Toledo, OH in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions: The Next Round on Bounce TV. The 2012 Olympic alternate used his reach and power throughout the fight, knocking Cruz down three times en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Cruz's best round came in the fifth as he turned up the action, giving Easter a pause more than once and pushed the champion toward the ropes.
After that round, it was all Easter who threw flurries of punches, not always depending on his range, doing his best to pin Cruz back with powerful hooks and body shots. Easter wasn't fazed by seeing the 10th round for the third time in his career as a big right hand sent Cruz to the canvas for the first knockdown of the fight. Cruz impressively rose to his feet, but Easter didn't relent.
He continued his conquest and with 10 seconds to go in the 11th round, Cruz was saved by the bell after being knocked down again. Fighting to the finish, Easter gave the raucous crowd what they came for as he threw a big right hand that nearly ended the fight. Cruz did notably did not quit, but was no match for Easter as the judges scored the bout 119-106, 118-107, 117-108.
"It was very important for me to remain focused tonight but also have fun. My people came out in full force so I wanted to give them a show, a night to remember. I feel like I did that, even though I wish I could've given them the knockout," Easter said.
"I admit, I was very surprised that Luis Cruz could take my punches like that and finish the fight. When I had him down and hurt (in round 10), I thought he was done. I give him credit. He came a long way and showed a lot of heart.
"I said before the fight and I'm going to keep saying it - I'm here to collect all them belts. I'm not gonna pretend to be that guy who doesn't call out other fights. I'm calling out Mikey Garcia, Jorge Linares and Terry Flanagan. I want them to see what we were able to do here tonight, the crowd I pulled in. I'm a superstar on the rise and now it's time for me to collect my prizes and bring these fights and all of the belts home to Toledo.
"Realistically I'd like to come back maybe May or June. It's always hard work but I'm not cut or marked up. I want to stay active and get all the champions and best challengers out there. TBT - The Bunny Team is getting ready to take over."