By Thomas Gerbasi
Madison Square Garden, New York City - Unbeaten up and comer Ryan Martin successfully defended his WBC Continental Americas lightweight title in the Pay-Per-View opener, halting Bryant Cruz in the eighth round of a scheduled 10-rounder.
Martin patiently stalked Cruz throughout the first round, picking up his work rate as the frame progressed. By the end of the round, he was opening up with both hands, and his body work had the Port Chester product on the defensive.
There were several spirited exchanges in the second and third as both fighters remained busy, but Martin had the edge throughout
As Martin's steady stream of punches kept punishing Cruz, the points piled up, but the toughness of the New Yorker could not be questioned. In the fifth though, his chin began showing cracks, and things didn't improve in the sixth and seventh, as the bout became more one-sided.
Finally, Martin caught Cruz in the corner in the eighth, and after an unanswered series of blows, referee Harvey Dock intervened at the 45-second mark.
With the win, Cleveland's Martin improves to 18-0 with 10 KOs. Cruz falls to 17-2 with 8 KOs.
In his first bout since a December 2015 loss to Billy Joe Saunders, 32-year-old middleweight contender Andy Lee returned to the ring and the win column with an eight-round unanimous decision win over Alabama's KeAndrae Leatherwood.
Scores were 80-72, 78-74 and 79-73 for Limerick's Lee.
Coming into the bout with a five-fight winning streak, Leatherwood had confidence on his side, and his quick counters only gave him more confidence against the hittable Lee. The Irishman did start heating up in the fourth with some hard straight lefts, and while he was not fighting like the Andy Lee of old, he was busier than his opponent.
Unfortunately, as the bout progressed, it settled into the pace of a sparring session, with Lee content to stay a step ahead while Leatherwood stayed in the pocket but only pushed back when pushed.
With the win, Lee improves to 35-3-1 with 24 KOs; Leatherwood falls to 19-4-1.