TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 17, 2009) – Featherweight Orlando Cruz remained undefeated Friday night with a devastating fifth-round knockout over previously unbeaten Leonilo Miranda on ShoBox: The New Generation. Cruz improved to 16-0-1 while Miranda fell to 24-1.
The tripleheader on SHOWTIME began with an impressive performance from 2008 United States Olympian Gary Russell, Jr. Making his professional debut, the talented 126-pounder defeated Antonio Reyes by TKO at 0:21 of the third round. In the second fight of the telecast, Marvin Quintero out-performed Nick Casal, who threw the towel in after the third round.
The event, promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, took place at the Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, Okla.
Cruz, of Puerto Rico, entered the scheduled 10-round bout as an underdog, but he never acted the part against Miranda, of Mexico, who had knocked out 23 of his 24 opponents.
While he started a bit slowly, Cruz never backed down. Early into the fifth round of a close, exciting fight, Cruz dropped Miranda with a solid left hand to the chin. While Miranda attempted to beat the count, referee Steve Smoger waved off the contest at 0:39.
“I am so proud to win and prove myself,’’ Cruz said. “This is my first time fighting on national television. This is very emotional for me. I am so excited and humbled and this only motivates me to keep working and keep proving myself.”
ShoBox analyst Steve Farhood felt Miranda’s knockout percentage may have hurt him. “Miranda clearly suffered from having knocked out so many opponents so easily,’’ Farhood said. “When he didn’t get rid of Cruz, the fight turned quite suddenly. To his credit, Cruz never lost his composure; he stayed in the pocket and perfectly timed the one punch that ended the fight.”
Russell, Jr., of Capitol Heights, Md., was not overwhelmed with his performance. “I give myself a C+ for my performance tonight,’’ he said after whipping Reyes, of Dallas, whose record dropped to 3-3. “But I am excited that I got this opportunity to have my pro debut on SHOWTIME. I want to come back as quickly as possible and show everyone my A skills.”
In a bit of a surprise, Mexico’s Quintero (15-1) mostly overpowered Casal (18-4-1) of Chicago.
After Quintero thoroughly dominated the third round, Casal made the decision to retire on his stool. As he sat down, he could be overheard saying that he didn’t want to continue.
When asked by his corner what the problem was he responded, “No legs, no legs man. That’s it. I’m done.” His corner signaled to referee Mike England that the boxer did not intend to continue.
SHOWTIME will replay Friday’s telecast on Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHO 2.
Nick Charles called the action from ringside with boxing historian Farhood serving as expert analyst. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
ShoBox: The New Generation will return on Friday, Feb. 6, when undefeated, world-ranked Andre Ward will defend his NABO super middleweight title against Henry Buchanan from The Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif. (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
For more information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, please go to the new SHOWTIME Sports website at http://sports.sho.com.