Andy Cruz: How much can he achieve?

By Boxing News - 07/22/2023 - Comments

By Gav Duthie: Another major chess piece has been added to the already stacked 135lb lightweight division with the impressive debut of Cuban sensation Andy Cruz. The 2020 (21) Olympic Gold medalist shut out former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos over ten rounds on the same night as prospect Floyd Schofield bagged another win, as did contender Frank Martin.

Such was the debut and reputation of Cruz. Many are asking if he could defeat such prospects right now. Cruz isn’t a spring chicken, but at 27, he doesn’t need to be moved rapidly, either. He is in the prime of his athletic career, so the question is, what are the next moves? The spotlight is on him and his promoter Eddie Hearn.

Being that Cruz is Cuban, he may become president of ‘The who needs him club,’ which is largely the way the careers of Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux have gone. Both have had success as world champions but have been largely avoided for legacy career-defining and big-money fights.

The Cuban problem

There are two main issues for Cubans. One is that they do not have the backing of their nation to be professional, which takes away from a potential fan base. The other is that their style is points scoring, defensive. Luis Ortiz has proved popular with his knockout style, whereas Frank Sanchez is already being avoided. Lara and Rigondeaux, as aforementioned, were largely avoided due to defensive boxing and not entertaining on the big nights.

Andy Cruz is a defensive wizard but much like the newly crowned WBO featherweight champion and compatriot Robeisy Ramirez, but the latter has shown a fan-friendly professional style, so even in early defeat has a lot of potential for big fights in the future. Cruz definitely showed a good mix against Burgos.

The lightweight problem

The issue at 135/140 lbs is that with Gervonta Davis, Shakur Stevenson, Vasyl Lomachenko, Devin Haney, William Zepeda, Teofimo Lopez, as well as the likes of Frank Martin is that who needs Andy Cruz? Perhaps the only one who does need him out of all the contenders is Keyshawn Davis, as it is well known that Davis and Cruz fought four times in the amateurs, with Cruz winning all 4, including the 2020 Olympic final. In fairness to Davis, he hasn’t dismissed Cruz. He talks about him often and feels he genuinely would be interested in the fight.

Eddie Hearn

Let’s be honest other than the Flyweight divisions and Canelo, Eddie Hearn’s American Tail hasn’t exactly been a classic success story. All eyes will be on him as to how he promotes Andy Cruz. Eddie has said this is one of the most talented fighters he has ever signed. The fans and media will look at two things, how much risk he takes with Cruz and can he get him the biggest fights against the best opponents.

The Debut

Juan Carlos Burgos was a good first opponent. He is a former world title challenger with 45 professional fights under his belt. He had a 35-7-3 (21) going into the Cruz bout, which is an impressive debut. Many felt Burgos should have won his world attempt against Roman Martinez when he drew, but this was way back in 2013, and Burgos, after losing to Cruz, has now lost 6 out of his last 10. So was this debut a huge risk? Not really. It was calculated. Impressive but calculated, Burgos is still game, he has never been stopped, and he fought Keyshawn Davis only a couple of fights back. Eddie would have hoped Cruz could have stopped him to go one better than Davis, but also that Burgos was likely to give him ten rounds. Cruz looked just as fresh in round 10 as he did in round 1, so this looks great for the future.

Risk Taking

What does Eddie do next? He will be aware that he can’t have another Devin Haney and Demetrius Andrade situation where he can’t get him the big fights. The moves he makes with this chess piece need to be deliberate and strategic. There needs to be a buzz about Cruz; people need to think he can beat the best and that they need to fight him. The best way to do this is to take risks. He needs big opponents early, but he doesn’t want to lose as Lomachenko did in his second fight against Salido.

Here are some potential opponents for his next fight.

Joesph Diaz

Yuriorkis Gamboa

Anthony Yigit

Jorge Linares

Mercito Gesta

A win against any of these fighters would definitely create a buzz without a massive risk of losing.

Joseph Diaz has just snapped a 3-fight losing streak and still feels he can be a contender. He is a former world champion and gave Devin Haney one of his toughest assignments.

Yuriorkis Gamboa seems unlikely, but it’s a good narrative. He was a 2004 Olympic gold medalist and former world champion, but much like Rigondeaux, Lara, the big fights often eluded him until he was old. Gamboa killed someone in a road traffic accident on 31 December in 2022 and cannot leave the country at present. He is also 41 and lost his last 3. It is a nice passing of the torch, though, but it seems unlikely.

Anthony Yigit is a former European champion and world title challenger and, importantly, just boxed nine rounds with Keyshawn Davis. He has a nice style but, again, would be a good comparison for Cruz and Davis.

Jorge Linares is a legend at lightweight, but his best days are well behind him. He has lost his last three and was completely outboxed in his last outing. It would still be a huge step up for such an inexperienced pro and a big scalp.

Mercito Gesta just beat Jojo Diaz recently and has always been a great gatekeeper to the elite and the pretenders. Gesta would come to win and will feel he still has a big fight in him at this stage.


Davis has already been talking about how average his debut was and that he would be interested in the fight if Cruz looked great in his next outing. This is a Matchroom v Top Rank situation, but I feel Eddie Hearn needs to deliver this fight by Cruz’s 5th outing. Only with spectacular wins can Cruz get the biggest fights against the greatest talents. The boxing world will be watching.

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