By Ian S Palmer
Terry Flanagan vs Orlando Cruz Preview November 26th
Unbeaten WBO Lightweight Champion Terry Flanagan of Manchester England will be defending his title for the fourth time when he takes on Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales this Saturday, November 26th. The 12-round bout can be seen live in the UK on BoxNation. Flanagan, a southpaw, beat Mzonke Fana by 12-round unanimous decision in Cardiff in his last outing back in July while fellow southpaw Cruz stopped Gabino Cota in the seventh round just a few weeks ago on October 10th.
The 27-year-old Flanagan won the vacant title against Jose Zepeda by a second-round stoppage in July of 2015. He’s been pretty active since as he defended it against American Diego Magdaleno by second-round stoppage three months later, then beat Derry Mathews of Liverpool by unanimous decision in March before defending it for the third time against Fana of South Africa. The 35-year-old Cruz boxed for his homeland of Puerto Rico at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia and turned pro later that year. He didn’t lose his first pro fight until nine years later when American Cornelius Lock stopped him in the fifth round in 2009.
Cruz has never been a world champion, but has held both the WBO Latino Featherweight and WBO NABO Super-Featherweight Championships. He challenged Orlando Salido of Mexico for the vacant WBO Featherweight Title in October of 2013, but was stopped in the seventh round. Cruz, who enters the fight with a record of 25-4-1 with 13 Kos, has also been beaten by Daniel Ponce De Leon by third-round stoppage in February of 2010 and by Gamalier Rodriguez by 10-roud unanimous decision in April of 2014. His draw was a four-round affair with Jesus Salvador Perez back in June of 2006. Cruz is just 5-feet-4-inches tall and will be giving up five inches in height to the champion.
Cruz has a good defence as well as quick hands, but his chin is somewhat of a question mark after being stopped on two occasions. He’s got plenty of experience with 181 pro rounds to his name and has faced some decent opposition over the years. He doesn’t really have much in the way of power though either as his knockout ratio in 43 per cent. He shouldn’t have any ring rust to worry about though as this will be his fourth fight of the year. Cruz has good boxing skills and likes to utilize his right jab and follow it up with straight left hands. He’s at his best when he controls the pace by throwing flurries and then getting out of the way of any counter shots.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Flanagan owns a perfect record of 31-0 with 12 Kos and is also a former European and British Lightweight Champion. Flanagan is a slick-boxing southpaw who has a fine jab and usually prefers to dictate the pace of his fights. He turned pro back in 2009 and has boxed 158 rounds since then with a knockout ratio of just 39 per cent. The champion stands just over 5-feet-9-inches tall and has an unlisted reach. His biggest wins have come over the likes of Gary Sykes, Nate Campbell, Zepeda, Magdaleno, Mathews and Fana. Flanagan hasn’t really taken on any big-name elite boxers as of yet as most of his fights have been against domestic and European opponents.
It looks like the younger Flanagan will be the favourite here, but he’ll be making a big mistake if he takes Cruz too lightly. The challenger is still highly-motivated to win a world title and will be a handful. Neither boxer is known as a power puncher, but that doesn’t mean they’re not exciting. Look for Flanagan to be the busier of the two and retain his belt via decision or late stoppage.