Ronald Cruz used a patient approach before exploding in the 10th round.
Ringside Report by Resolution Sports
Welterweight Ronald Cruz (19-2, 14 KOs) faced a tough test on Thursday night in Miami scrapper Alberto Morales (11-3-1, 8 KOs), erasing a tight score card in the 10th round by stopping the Nicaraguan at 1:29 of the final frame. The finisher marked the second knockdown of the round for the Bethlehem native, sending the hometown supporters at the Sands Casino into an uproar.
Heading into the 10th frame, Cruz knew that he needed to finish the bout on a high note since there was no certainty that he was ahead on the cards from the ringside judges. At the conclusion of the fight, it was noted that he was indeed ahead 86-85 on two of the tallies and trailed by the same count on the third card. However, Cruz went out there in the final round and made those scores irrelevant.
Immediately after the bell rang to start the 10th stanza, Cruz came out with a fury and began pounding on an exhausted Morales, who had been fighting at a rapid pace for six frames before slowing down significantly in the 7th frame. Cruz seemed to find every crease he was given by his opposition, and he exposed those openings by firing nicely plotted combinations straight down the pipe. In the first minute of that last round, he sent Morales backpedaling across the ring after peppering him with body to head shots, then dropping him with a thunderous overhand right.
Stunned but full of grit, Morales got back to his feet, and Cruz made him pay for it. He immediately exploded on his overwhelmed opponent, who did his best to counter the onslaught and tried to stay on his bicycle in an attempt to get his legs back under him. The effort would prove to be ineffective, with Cruz closing the show midway through the frame. After bullying Morales toward the back corner, Cruz nailed him with a left hook to the body before quickly switching his feet up to blast Morales’ wide open chin with a flush right hook. That shot proved to be the one that turned the lights out, but Cruz made it certain with another left hand and then a clean right uppercut as Morales fell to the canvas. Landing flat on his face, Cruz had finally broken down the incredible will of his opponent, forcing referee Gary Rosato to stop the bout before reaching the count of five.
While Cruz closed out the night in style, he certainly had to earn the victory. Morales showed a great motor over the first six rounds before slowing down considerably the rest of the way, most likely due to lack of experience in fights that went that distance. Cruz looked to fight off the ropes with the Mayweather shoulder lean a bit much over the opening frames of the bout, and an aggressive Morales was outworking him statistically. His punches came off a little sloppy, but he was throwing them in heavy numbers. Cruz did not take much damage and also did not appear to be hurt at any point, though, using the bend and good elusiveness to limit the impact of the work rate he was seeing.
In the seventh round, Morales began to breathe heavily from his mouth, and his legs began to look rather weak. An obvious turn in momentum shifted towards Cruz at that point, and he took over the fight on the offensive end. Morales did all he could to find his earlier aggression in temporary pockets, but he started to look overmatched by the more obviously comfortable Cruz. That same pace persisted as the fight continued, with Cruz eventually shutting the book in the 10th frame.
The win marks the second consecutive victory for Cruz, who won the first 17 fights of his professional career before suffering a pair of decision losses. Back on the winning path once again, the Bethlehem native now sets his sights on a landmark 20th victory before the end of 2013.
Make sure to stay tuned for a complete recap of the undercard!