CRUZ: AIMING TO IMPRESS APRIL 28th IN PHILLY
By Bill Green
On April 28th, 2018, Kent “The Puerto Rican Sensation” 14-0 (8) makes his much anticipated Top Rank debut on the undercard of a stacked card featuring WBO Super Bantamweight Champion Jesse Magdaleno 25-0 (18) ,Former Super Middleweight Title Challenger Jesse Hart 23-1 (19), World ranked Heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings 22-2 (13), Olympic Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson 5-0 (2), and power punching local Pennsylvania Featherweight Joseph Adorno 6-0 (6).
Cruz will take on Texas’s upset minded Mohamed Rodriguez 11-5 (4) in a scheduled 8 round Super lightweight contest Promoted by Top Rank and Peltz Boxing Promotions located at the Liacouras Center, in Philadelphia, PA. The Puerto Rican vs Mexico rivalry continues as Cruz vs Rodriguez can be viewed in its entirety live on ESPN APP as part of the mega ESPN/TopRank deal.
BG: After signing with Top Rank in December, we talked about your desire to step up the competition and in Rodriguez it looks as if that moment has now come. Rodriguez has won 2 in a row and has been in with some stiff competition like New Mexico’s Fidel Maldonado 24-4-1 (19) and most recently upsetting Manuel Mendez 15-2-3 (11) with a stunning 4th round ko. Is this too big of a step up or deemed a risky fight?
Cruz: I’m to the point in my career that I need to step up the caliber of opponents. I’m 14-0 and the critics say I haven't been tested. I need guys like this that are tough and come to test my skills. These are the type of opponents that are needed to help prepare me for that next level. He’s tough and we are training for him like it's for a World Title.
BG: Ironically, you have previously fought on the East Coast. In fact, it was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. You won a tough but unanimous 6 round decision over Jerome Rodriguez who was 7-3-3 at the time. Can you walk me through that night?
Cruz: Ya, Rodriguez was a game and a tough challenge. It was his hometown even. I will tell you this, Philly fans know and understand boxing. The crowd was into that one. It was televised on Fox Sports 1. Philly has a large Puerto Rican population and I can’t wait to hear that crowd once again on the 28th.
BG: As discussed, the competition has increased but so has the opportunity. How have you prepared for the step up in rounds and competition?
Cruz: I have been running a lot more, using better sparring, maintaining my sharpness, improving my diet but most of all preparing mentally and working on the game plan.
BG: April 28th Top Rank and Peltz Promotions have quite the list of upcoming talent and already emerging stars in Magdaleno, Hart, Jennings, Stevenson, Adorno and now you. How does it feel to finally seeing and hearing your name attached to a card such as this?
Cruz: I’m truly blessed and I’m grateful towards B&B Boxing Promotions and Top Rank. I have bounced around from Promoter to Promoter. It has been frustrating and I feel like I’m one of those under the radar type fighters that has been giving an audition. I’m going to take this opportunity and run with it. I need to perform and execute, than fight fans will finally know who I am.
BG: So just like stablemate and bossman Terence “Bud” Crawford 32-0 (23), you have to go out and prove them wrong and make them a believer just like the Prescott fight? I know most fighters simply shy away from predictions but what kind of outcome do you hope for?
Cruz: I’m not trying to put a lot of pressure on me but if I’m being real..I want a knockout. My favorite fighter and the reason I started boxing was Felix Trinidad. I have modeled my career and style around his, I like to break my opponent down, box when I need to, but ultimately I want to see if he can take my power. This is a hurt business and I’m definitely going for the ko. I just don't want a ko, I want to get one in spectacular fashion. I want to stay active and the only way to make that a reality is to win and give the fans what they love and that’s an early night.