The Juan Carlos Burgos train was not derailed, but it sputtered and puffed as it pulled into the station.
Burgos (29-1, 19 knockouts) scored a unanimous decision victory over Cristobal Cruz in the main event of this week’s Friday Night Fights offering by scores of 96-92 (twice) and 98-90.
As THE RING No. 10-rated junior lightweight, Burgos was expected to have a relatively easy time with the grizzled veteran. He did so in the early rounds, although he assumed the role of counterpuncher from the opening bell, neglecting his left jab despite a sizable reach advantage.
Burgos’ strategy throughout was to allow Cruz (39-13-3, 23 KO), who is a wide puncher, to commit, and then react with left hooks. The plan paid dividends in the sixth round, resulting in a knockdown and forcing Cruz to retreat and hold for the remainder of the stanza.
The senior fighter showed his experience and rallied back after the knockdown. While he was still swinging wildly, Cruz began to close the distance and hit Burgos occasionally, which also forced him to shorten his looping punches. It was indeed a short jab that was the punch of the night for the 34-year old, sending Burgos to the canvas early in the ninth round.
Burgos survived the ninth, and stood toe-to-toe with the former titlist for the first time in the final round, which was by far the most entertaining of the bout.
Ultimately, Burgos’ passivity made the outing far more difficult than it should have been for a fighter with his vast skill set. Credit should be given to Cruz though, who has made a career of making life difficult for prospects, hometown fighters and opponents heavily favored over him in general.
In the opening bout of the ESPN2 broadcast, journeyman Manny Perez upset Edgar Santana to capture a minor junior welterweight belt.
Santana (26-4, 17 KOs) has long been criticized for fighting in spurts and taking rounds off, and Perez took advantage of every second and inch given to him. The Denver, Co. native, who holds down two jobs on top of his profession as a boxer, simply outworked his opponent. Santana’s inactivity allowed Perez to walk in with a firm jab, and fire hard combinations to the body as he rested on the inside.
Not until the 10th round did Santana commit to anything more than a quick double left hook, or a pot shot jab. His reluctance to throw a right hand (an injury was never made apparent) allowed his opponent to slip to one side consistently without ever having to think twice. Perez (17-7-1. 4 KOs), as a result, muscled him around the ring and both out-threw and outlanded his foe according to ESPN’s fight stats.
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