Robert Easter Dominates, Tops Off Entertaining PBC On Bounce Card
By: Sean Crose
Terrell Gausha stepped into the ring in Toledo, Ohio on Friday night with a perfect record of 19-0. His opponent, Luis Hernandez, was 15-3, a slightly less impressive resume. Still, Hernandez took it to his opponent right off the bat in the ten-round middleweight affair. Gausha may have had the better talent and pedigree, but Puerto Rico’s Hernandez had come to win. Indeed, Hernandez was reminiscent of Marcos Maidana as he bulled forward, every part the warrior. Gausha, however, wasn’t simply going to lose in front of his home town. After being dropped in the third, he went on to land thudding shots of his own.
Hernandez truly entered the “Maidana Zone” in the seventh when he started to fight dirty enough to lose himself a point due to low blows. He kept coming, though…and the sharper punching Gausha kept firing back. It was a grinding affair, to be sure. Indeed, the fight was a war. When all was said and done, it was Gausha who walked off with a unanimous decision win.
Next up at the bustling and lively Huntington Center, Rau’shee Warren did battle with Shanat Zhakiyaof for the WBA super world bantamweight title in a scheduled 12 round affair. Warren started with blinding speed and subsequently went through his opponent like a lawnmower through foot long blades of grass. Before the end of the first round, Zhakiyaof was down twice. The Kazakh composed himself better in the second round, but Warren was proving to be an incredibly fast nemesis.
Speed does not equal invincibility, though. By the third round, Warren found himself on the mat. The referee claimed it was a slip, but there was little doubt the man was getting tagged. Blood flowed from Warren’s nose after the round, and it was worth wondering whether or not the nose was broken. Zhakiyaof continued to whack away through the fourth. It was clear the tide had changed, at least for the time being.
Warren seemed to get a second wind by mid fight, using his superior footwork to his advantage. He was never fully able to reassert control however, as the fight raced along its violent path into the later rounds. It was truly hard to tell who was in the lead entering the last portion of the bout, or even if either man would be able to last until the final bell. Indeed, both men made it to the end. It was exceedingly hard to tell who had won the fight, but the judges gave it to Shakiyaof by split decision. For the record, Warren was a gentleman in defeat – always something worth noting.
It was then time for the main event. Rising 18-0 star Robert Easter Junior was defending his IBF world lightweight title against 22-4 Luis Cruz. With the crowd in a terrifically intense state, the two men began to do battle. The fight started in competitive fashion, with Easter still having a clear edge after the first few rounds. After four rounds, however, it became clear that Cruz was not going to lay down and collect a paycheck. The man was there to fight. Indeed, Cruz looked impressive in the fifth.
Yet all the willpower in the world can’t be relied upon to bring about victory. Easter started coming on strong in the sixth and the shots were clearly beginning to take their toll on his overmatched opponent. Easter thundered away in the seventh. Cruz was able to stay on his feet, but the bout was a one-sided affair by that point. And so, the match went on, with Easter maintaining the lead while Cruz gamely struggled. Perhaps Easter realized that Cruz had too strong a beard to try to finish off. Or perhaps he felt it wasn’t yet time. Either way, Cruz no longer seemed in danger of being stopped as the match moved onto its later stages.
Then, as if on cue, Easter took his man down early in the tenth. Cruz got up and, once again, Easter banged away. Cruz was incredibly durable, but it was now clear that he could be folded. By that point, all Cruz was doing was surviving. Barring something short of a miracle, the fight was essentially over. Cruz, simply put, was taking a terrible beating.
To his credit, however, Cruz was still throwing punches in the eleventh. A howitzer from Easter put the man down on the mat yet again. Once again, though, Cruz got up…and was allowed to keep fighting. Cruz decided to run in the twelfth. Easter caught him, however, and laid on more of a beating. A murderous shot sent Cruz down once more. Cruz got up again, though – and, of course, was allowed to continue. Needless to say, a thoroughly thrashed Cruz made it to the final bell, only to predictably lose by a wide decision.
Was it worth it?