By MIKE SMITH
Port Chester native Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz will be back in the ring in two weeks, co-headlining a fight card at B.B. King’s in New York City.
Cruz, who is currently 11-0 as a professional, will look to keep his perfect record intact–even if he doesn’t know who his opponent will be yet.
Cruz was last in the ring on June 22, when he outpointed the rugged Osnel Charles at Foxwoods Resorts Casino. Though he initially eyed a return to action sometime in July, trainer Ryan O’Leary said a deal just couldn’t get done in time.
“His last fight was a tough one, it went the distance,” O’Leary said. “We tried to get a fight on [DiBella Entertainment’s] last card, but the card filled up quickly so we shot for the August date.”
As of press time, Cruz’s opponent has not been announced. According to O’Leary, finding the right opponents is difficult at the moment, given Cruz’s status in the super featherweight division. Although he doesn’t want his charge to move up and take on the top 10 fighters at 130 pounds just yet, putting Cruz in the ring with novices or also-rans would do little to raise his stock or give him the experience he needs to one day vie for a title.
“We’ve got a team of matchmakers on it full time now,” O’Leary said. “We’ve been through about a dozen potential opponents already, but should have someone soon.”
O’Leary said he is confident Cruz has the physical skills to tangle with the best the division has to offer—Oxnard’s Mikey Garcia is currently viewed by many to be the division’s top fighter—but he would like to get his fighter a little more seasoning against fighters who have been around before challenging the division’s big names.
“Sometimes with young guys, it’s tough for them to grasp that they belong at this level because the transition from amateurs to pros goes so quick,” O’Leary said. “[Cruz has] never shown me that; he’s never quit, and I’ve never doubted him, but I’d like to see him have three or four good fights before getting up to those top 10 guys.”
Regardless of the opponent, the Aug. 13 bout will be Cruz’s first eight-rounder. While the move up in rounds can prove some fighters’ undoing, O’Leary predicts longer fights will only serve to highlight Cruz’s style even more as he rises through the ranks.
“He’s been ready for eight-rounders since he was an amateur,” O’Leary said. “He’s so relentless, he’s well-conditioned, and it’s
only going to work to our advantage. He doesn’t have that one-punch knockout power, but with these added rounds, I think you’re going to see him earn more stoppages.”