Leo Cruz

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Leonardo Cruz (born January 17, 1953 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic), better known in the world of boxing as Leo Cruz, was a world Jr. Featherweight champion from the Dominican Republic.

Personal[edit]

Leo was the brother of Carlos Cruz. Carlos had conquered the world Lightweight title by beating Carlos Ortiz in 1969, but lost his life in the Dominicana DC-9 air disaster the following year.

Early life[edit]

Leo moved to Puerto Rico early in the 1970s, and began identifying himself as half Puerto Rican almost immediately.

Pro career[edit]

He began his successful professional boxing career in Puerto Rico, with a string of wins. Despite having beaten future two time world champion Lupe Pintor, however, Cruz was still a virtual unknown when given a chance to win the WBC world Jr. Featherweight championship. Despite losing by a knockout in the 13th round against world champion Wilfredo Gómez,[1] his stock around the boxing world rose after that fight. Cruz kept on fighting, and winning, until he was given a second world title try, this time by the WBA world champion Sergio Palma, in Buenos Aires. Cruz was beaten by a decision in 15 by the Argentine world champion,[1] but in a rematch on February 1982 at Miami, Cruz became world champion by defeating Palma by a decision, also in 15 rounds.[2]

Cruz in his first defense knocked out Benito Badilla of Chile in eight rounds, at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan.[3][4] When Gómez left his WBC title vacant soon after, Cruz became recognized by most fans as the universal world champion. Then, he defeated South Korean challenger Soon-Hyun Chung,[5] by decision in 15; after dropping him in round eight; also in San Juan.[5] In his first defense at his home country, Cruz put his title on the line on August 1983 against Nicaraguan challenger Cleo Garcia at Santo Domingo. Cruz retained the title by a decision.

With a defense against Puerto Rican Victor Luvi Callejas looming ahead,[6] Cruz went to Milan in February 1984, and, while defending his crown against Italian Loris Stecca, was stopped in round 12, therefore losing the world featherweight title.[7]

Comeback[edit]

Cruz attempted a comeback in 1985, winning one fight, but retiring for good after that.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Perez, Santos (1982-06-10). "Palma vs. Cruz, one more time". The Miami News. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  2. ^ "Fans' Spirit Helps Cruz Earn Decision". Gainesville Sun. Associated Press. 1982-06-14. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  3. ^ "Leo Cruz makes first title defense". St. Joseph News-Press. Associated Press. 1982-11-13. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  4. ^ "Mancini blasts rival, who is critical". Star-News. 1982-11-14. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  5. ^ a b "Cruz defends title". Reading Eagle. United Press International. 1983-03-16. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  6. ^ "Sports Shorts". The Lewiston Daily Sun. Associated Press. 1984-02-22. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  7. ^ "Stecca overcomes Cruz". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. 1984-02-23. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
Preceded by
Sergio Victor Palma
WBA Super Bantamweight Champion
12 Jun 1982– 22 Feb 1984
Succeeded by
Loris Stecca

See also[edit]