Andy Cruz, Amateur Legend, to Find Out if Pro Boxing Fits

Andy Cruz, Amateur Legend, to Find Out if Pro Boxing Fits

For his part, Cruz is aware that he is fighting both Burgos and the perception among boxing fans that Cuban boxers are brilliant technicians and savvy tacticians, but dull to watch. Cruz says he already understands that where amateur boxing rewards winners, pro boxing prizes winners who also entertain.

“He’s going to come out and apply his experience; I’m going to go out and show that I’m ready to fight with the best in the division,” Cruz said. “The objective is to win, and to show well. To shine, and to give the public a show.”

After securing a visa and signing with Matchroom, Cruz relocated to Northeast Philadelphia, to learn professional-style boxing under the trainer Derek Ennis. The trainer’s task was not to reprogram Cruz, but to teach him to punch with authority, stand his ground, and prepare him for a new crop of opponents, who, like Burgos, would rather rumble in close than box at long range.

“Put all your shots together and be prepared for the guy to come back. That’s where defense comes in,” Ennis said.

Burgos’s record includes unanimous decision losses to Haney and to Keyshawn Davis, an amateur rival of Cruz’s who is currently a fast-rising pro prospect. So Saturday’s result will help determine how Cruz compares to his elite peers. Moving forward from there will involve balancing Cruz and his team’s related, but not perfectly aligned interests.

Ennis wants to build the boxer’s skills. Cruz wants to live up to the mythology that has sprouted around him. Hearn wants to stage the most profitable fights possible.

“The trainer and manager make the decisions. We have to convince them of the strategy,” Hearn said. “I have to give them the reality and the facts of the commercial world.”

Now, their enterprise takes a brighter stage.

“It’ll be difficult, but that’s what I prepared for. For this moment. I’m a person who works well under pressure, and I’ll show it this Saturday,” Cruz said.

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