By Jake Donovan
Ronald Cruz returns to familiar surroundings, however under unfamiliar circumstances.
The welterweight prospect faces Ray Narh this Friday in his hometown of Bethlehem, PA, as part of NBC Sports Network’s televised tripleheader. Those are the areas of familiarity for Cruz, but he enters the fight on the heels of the first defeat of his pro career, which he suffered last September at the hands of divisional trialhorse Antwone Smith.
Cruz (17-1, 12KO) plays the Sands Casino for the fourth time in his young career, including his third straight fight at the local resort. Regardless of who has appeared on past cards, the Puerto Rican has drawn the loudest applause in the room. Early pre-fight buzz suggests more of the same can be expected this weekend, even in coming off of a nine-month layoff and the humbling defeat.
“I have a lot of support here. I’m looking forward to putting on a great show,” Cruz quietly stated during Wednesday’s press conference on location.
Despite Cruz’ recent stumbles, he remains confident of what he can still bring to the table. With that, he ignores the impressive knockout-to-win ratio offered by Nahr (25-2, 21KO) and focuses on the task at hand, which is returning to the win column on Friday evening.
“He has a lot of knockouts but I don’t think that means anything when you’re put in there against a guy of my skill level,” Cruz insists of Narh, who accepted the fight a month ago after Jamie Herrera suffered an injury during training camp and was forced to withdraw.
“I was supposed to fight somebody else, but the guy got injured so they gave us Ray Narh. My management knows they don’t even have to ask me. Whoever it is, I’ll fight them. I’m eager to fight and put on a great show this weekend.”
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