Miguel Cruz (16-0, 11 KOs) earned a unanimous decision to defeat Alex Martin (13-2, 5 KOs) and remained unbeaten in a welterweight rematch that headlined Premier Boxing Champions TOE-TO-TOE TUESDAYS on FS1 and BOXEO DE CAMPEONES on FOX Deportes Tuesday night from Sands Bethlehem Events Center in Bethlehem, Pa.
After winning a split-decision against Martin in their January showdown, Cruz kept his perfect record intact by scoring two knockdowns before getting the decision in their 10-round matchup.
“I honestly didn’t feel great in our first fight and when I re-watched it, I thought Martin won,” said Cruz. “That made me train ever harder than ever to prove that I have the skills and power to compete at the world class level, and I think I did that tonight.”
Cruz got off to a fast start by landing a huge left hook that caught Martin and dropped him late in the first round. Martin was able to get to his feet and recover just before the bell sounded to end the round.
Martin kept trying to work on the inside but Cruz was determined to push back and consistently landed with big power shots. Another left hook in round four sent Martin to the mat again, although he appeared less effected than during the first knockdown.
“I was fighting his fight tonight,” said Martin. “I just didn’t put on my best performance. The first knockdown was a real knockdown but the second knockdown he hit me in the back of the head.”
Round five saw Martin begin to box more effectively, landing several right hands before a left hook landed low, sending Cruz to the canvas and causing referee Gary Rosato to halt the bout while Cruz recovered.
When the action resumed Martin continued to turn the tide of the fight. His movement was very effective and his success with the left hand was consistent throughout rounds five through eight.
“Martin was super tough,” said Cruz. “I didn’t think he would make it out of the second round but he definitely gave me problems. I was trying to stop him.”
Down on the scorecards because of the early knockdowns, Martin’s comeback effort came up short as Cruz was able to hold Martin off in the final two rounds on his way to earning the decision in the eyes of all three judges by the score of 96-92.
“I knew I was getting back into the fight but I’m not making any excuses tonight,” said Martin. “He won the fight fair and square, congratulations to him.”
“I trained for Martin like he was the champion of the world and that’s how I’m going to train for every fight of my career,” said Cruz. “It was a tremendous fight, I’m glad I got the victory. I just want to go back to Puerto Rico and celebrate my birthday tomorrow.”
Additional televised action saw Clarence Booth (15-3, 8 KOs) stop Puerto Rico’s Anthony Mercado (10-3, 9 KOs) in the fourth round of their welterweight contest.
The taller Mercado had success early in the fight while Booth tried to work his way inside and attack the body. Mercado landed a pair of clean right hands in each of the first two rounds that appeared to daze Booth.
“He was a tough fighter,” said Booth. “I needed to get loose for the first couple rounds. I was tense in the beginning.”
Fighting out of St. Petersburg, Florida, Booth was able to weather the storm in the first two rounds and began to turn the tide in round three with a clean right hand that staggered Mercado.
Booth kept the momentum going and quickly put Mercado on the canvas with a pair of right hands in the fourth round. Mercado was able to get to his feet but eventually Booth broke through again and stunned Mercado with more right hands. The final flurry prompted referee Eric Dali to call a halt to the bout 1:30 into the fourth frame.
“I had a couple of tough losses, but now I am on a major comeback,” said Booth. “I’m so happy to have this opportunity on television and I made the best of it. My promoter Marshall Kauffman and King’s Promotions will get me great opportunities in the future.”
“He hit me with a good shot,” said Mercado. “He jabbed and came with a right hand that I didn’t see coming. I will be back even better.”