Bethlehem’s Ronald Cruz takes it on the chin in a loss to a sharp Ray Narh

first_imgBethlehem’s Ronald Cruz hadn’t fought in nine months, but Ray Narh, his opponent on Friday night at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center had the potential for even more rust.That’s because Narh hadn’t fought in two years.Any potential rust never revealed itself as Narh soundly defeated Cruz by unanimous decision to the disappointment of a large hometown crowd that wanted to see the hometown favorite get his welterweight career back on track after his first professional loss.Instead, they saw a dominant performance from Narh, originally from Accra, Ghana.The taller, long-armed Narh couldn’t have been sharper with his punches or his movement in controlling the action all night.The fight was part of another NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” card at the Sands and the place remained packed through seven bouts, including four that showcased local fighters. It was Cruz’s fourth fight at the Sands, but it was not a night he will want to remember.“It was just hard for me to focus tonight,” he said a somber dressing room. “There are no excuses. He beat me fair and square.”One of three judges, Pierre Benoist, didn’t give Cruz a single round. Julie Lederman had it 8-2 in rounds and David Braslow had it 6-4.Narh, who will turn 35 next month, had Cruz on the defensive almost the entire fight. He never allowed Cruz to get inside to use his jab.“There was nothing he did that I didn’t expect,” Cruz said. “I don’t know what to say. I just couldn’t pull the trigger tonight.” The 17-2 Cruz, fighting for the first time since a much closer loss by decision last September, said he was never hurt by Narh, who has 21 knockouts on his resume.“He was a pretty hard puncher, but he never hurt me,” Cruz said.He did get cut under his left eye and his face was bruised at night’s end, while Narh was singing and celebrating with his entourage in one of the Sands’ backstage rooms.Narh, a member of the 2000 Ghanaian Summer Olympics team, hadn’t fought since losing to Mike Alvarado in Las Vegas in May of 2011. He is now 26-2 and both losses were to unbeaten fighters.“It wasn’t that Ray didn’t want to fight; nobody wanted to fight him,” said his trainer Asante Qwamie. “He just needed to stay in shape and get someone to fight him. When this opportunity came up, he took it and made the most of it.’ Qwamie said Narh needed to keep moving and box Cruz.“He was in control the whole time,” Qwamie said.Cruz vowed he’d be back.“I would like to fight again, right away,” Cruz said. “I need to go back and learn from my mistakes, but it’s pretty hard to say what will happen right now.”last_img

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