The Andy Cruz as a Professional Era is Upon Us, But How Will it Unfold?
Tomorrow night in the co-main event to Alycia Baumgardner’s first undisputed title defense at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan, a potential future superstar will be stepping into the squared circle for the first time as a professional boxer.
Andy Cruz was an all-time great Cuban amateur. He compiled a record of 140-9 (according to BoxRec and other publications) and won gold medals at two Pan American Games, three World Championships, and topped it off with a gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games. Like his predecessors Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux, he was able to successfully defect from Cuba on his second attempt to pursue a career in pro boxing. He left Cuba last year and began his search for a professional trainer in the States.
An interesting dynamic ahead of Cruz’s pro debut is that, unlike most Cubans, Cruz opted to join forces with an American trainer. That trainer is Derek “Bozy” Ennis, who happens to also be the father and head trainer of his son and rising welterweight star Jaron “Boots” Ennis. Rumors started forming last year that Cruz would join forces with fellow Cubans Robeisy Ramirez and Yordenis Ugas and train with Ismael Salas (also Cuban). Though that wouldn’t have been a bad choice, I think that he made the right decision and will benefit greatly from it.
Training with Team Ennis in Philadelphia is exactly what someone like Cruz needs to help him get acclimated to the professional ranks. He has all the talent in the world necessary to be an elite champion, but he’s fought in the prototypical amateur style all his life and will need to adjust his game if he wants to reach the top of the sport once again as a pro. Being in a pro boxing environment like Philly should only help speed up the process of adjusting his fighting style, but it won’t happen overnight and it will take time before he has completely transformed his game.
He will be making his pro debut against former world title challenger and well-respected veteran Juan Carlos Burgos (35-7-3, 21 KOs). The bout is a rare ten-round pro debut with the vacant IBF International lightweight title also being at stake. Keyshawn Davis (8-0, 7 KOs), an amateur rival of Cruz, fought Burgos last December in his 7th pro fight. Davis is a rising American lightweight star who has gained quite a bit of notoriety since turning pro, and many believe this is Eddie Hearn’s (the promoter of Andy Cruz) way of showing the boxing world that Andy Cruz is going to be fast-tracked and is ready for big fights as soon as next year.
Though Cruz has gotten the best of Keyshawn Davis each of the four times they squared off in the amateurs (including the 2020 Olympic gold medal match), he is three and a half years older and Davis has always had a more pro-based style and is thought of by many to have the advantage in the paid ranks. It was rumored that Hearn offered Top Rank and Keyshawn the opportunity to fight Cruz in his pro debut, but I don’t believe any contracts were exchanged or even discussed. That fight has the potential of being a huge event down the road, with the two already having a history, and being that it could potentially be a title unification fight if they both become world champions as they are projected to.
Will Andy Cruz revamp his fighting style and become a world champion and potentially a pound-for-pound great? Or will he join a long line of amateur standouts who fail to have a similar level of success as a pro? We probably won’t know for a couple of years, but tomorrow night we get our first look at what Andy Cruz the professional looks like and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.