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Boxing Insider Fight Night — Christina Cruz: The Hell’s Kitchen Kid is back in the ‘hood

The author Thomas Wolfe may have said, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” but don’t tell that to Christina Cruz. The New York amateur legend is back in her old neighborhood again on August 10 when she takes on Nancy Franco in the main event of Boxing Insider Fight Night at Sony Hall.

To say that Cruz was an outstanding amateur boxer would be like saying that Michael Jordan could hold his own on the basketball court.

She won TEN consecutive New York Golden Gloves championships. That’s an all-time record. She has also won three National Golden Gloves titles, three National PAL crowns and no less than seven USA National championship (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017). Along the way she beat a number of opponents who have gone on to great success in the pros, including Adelaida Ruiz, who is the WBC interim super flyweight champion, and Marlen Esparza, who currently holds the WBC flyweight title belt.

On the world stage, Cruz won two bronze medals at the World Championships, but her ambition was really to box in the Olympics. That dream was very close; she had been the runner-up in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials, which left her off the team. But her Puerto Rican heritage enabled her to try out for that team, and she won a place. She would have been one of the favorites representing Puerto Rico in Tokyo.

But as we know, the pandemic forced the postponement of the Games until 2021. So Cruz simply decided she was going to turn professional instead. And she did so just blocks away from where she grew up, in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan. At the Theater at Madison Square Garden, she scored a four-round majority decision win over Indeya Smith, who has fought a couple of times at Sony Hall, including a win over world-rated Sulem Urbina.

Then it was a pair of decision victories over Maryguenn Vellinga, also at the Garden. She left New York for her last bout, an eight-round decision over Amy Salinas in Kissimmee, FL, just outside Orlando.

So she has four pro bouts and 22 total rounds. Cruz is now 40 years old; because she wanted to take part in the Olympics, she waited that long to enter the pro ranks. But now that she is committed, it would behoove her to put her foot on the gas pedal.

Certainly she has the ability to do it. And if there were concerns about her ability to go beyond three or four rounds, she went a strong eight against Salinas, winning all but one round on two of the judges’ scorecards.

In the pro ranks, Cruz has endeavored to be a little more stationery than she was in the amateurs, but she is still very adept at being able to keep a distance between herself and opponents. In that regard she’ll be challenged by Franco, who should keep coming forward and is intent on getting to the inside.

Let’s be honest; by this time Cruz is probably farther advanced than many of the pros who are in the world ratings. So we could probably count on a fast track to a championship opportunity. The only question is, what will she do with it when it comes?

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