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Isaac Pitbull Cruz vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa added to Spence vs. Ugas card on April 16th on PPV

Image: Isaac Pitbull Cruz vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa added to Spence vs. Ugas card on April 16th on PPV

By Huck Allen: Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz will be facing former IBF/WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in the co-feature bout in a lightweight clash on the undercard of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Yordenis Ugas PPV at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The popular 23-year-old lightweight contender ‘Pitbull’ Cruz (22-2-1, 15 KOs) is fighting for the first time since his close 12 round unanimous decision defeat against WBA ‘regular’ 135-lbs champion Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis on December 5th.

On four weeks’ notice, Pitbull Cruz took the fight against Gervonta as a replacement opponent after Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero was pulled from the card. Surprisingly, the smaller 5’4″ Pitbull Cruz gave Tank all he could handle, chasing him around the ring for much of the second half, making it an exciting contest to watch.

There was no question that Tank Davis deserved the win, but Cruz pushed him in a way that he’d never been before.

After the fight, Gervonta said, “A star was born,” praising Pitbull Cruz’s performance and perhaps setting the table for a rematch at some point.

Pitbull Cruz narrowly lost to Tank by 115-113, 115-113, and 116-112. In Pitbull’s fight before that, he defeated the highly popular former WBC super featherweight champion Franciso ‘El Bandito’ Vargas by a one-sided 10 round unanimous decision in June 2021.

Being given the chief support spot on the Spence-Ugas card will give Isaac Cruz a lot of visibility to build his fan base and his opponent, 2004 Olympic gold medalist Gamboa (30-4, 18 KOs), should bring out the best in him.

There will be some boxing fans that will grumble about the Cruz-Gamboa match-up, pointing out that the Cuban Gamboa is 40-years-old now, having lost his last two fights to Devin Haney and Tank Davis, and coming off a year and a half layoff.

It wasn’t a fair fight for Gamboa, a true 126-pounder, fighting a massive 135-pounder like Haney. There was too much of a size gap for Gamboa to compete with Haney, who should be fighting at 140 rather than 135 in the eyes of many boxing fans.

Image: Isaac Pitbull Cruz vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa added to Spence vs. Ugas card on April 16th on PPV

In Gamboa’s 12th round knockout defeat against WBA secondary lightweight champion Tank Davis in December 2019, he suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the second round after being dropped by the champion.

Gamboa showed tremendous bravery and toughness and limped around the ring for another ten rounds before being stopped in the 12th by Gervonta.

Despite Gamboa’s consecutive defeats, he’s a good opponent for Pitbull Cruz because he was beaten in his last fight. It would be a mistake to match Pitbull Cruz against a dangerous, relevant, lightweight contender like William Zepeda, Vasily Lomachenko, or Michel Rivera.

There are many talented lightweights that the handlers of Pitbull Cruz could have matched him with for this fight, but they’ve wisely opted for an older fighter that he has an excellent chance of beating and showing casing his talent. They want to turn Pitbull Cruz into a star and possibly set up a lucrative rematch with Gervonta Davis.

A decade ago, the Cuban Gamboa was one of the hottest stars of the lower weight divisions, with his exciting wins over Orlando Salido, Jorge Solis, and Daniel Ponce de Leon.

Gamboa’s career fizzled out after moving from featherweight to lightweight, a division where his lack of size limited his success.

After moving up to 135 in 2013, Gamboa immediately struggled, losing to Terence Crawford, Robinson Castellanos, Tank Davis, and Devin Haney.

Unfortunately, Gamboa couldn’t return to the 126-lb division where he dominated, but he could no longer make the weight.

Unfortunately, at this late stage in Gamboa’s career, he’s being used by the top fighters at 135 as an opponent to attract attention from the hardcore boxing fans that remember the Cuban talent from his best years.

“The 147-pound bout between Radzhab Butaev and Eimantas Stanionis also will appear on the undercard, leaving one more slot,” said Mike Coppinger of ESPN.

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