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STORY OF PHILIPPINE BOXING PART XII: ROBERTO CRUZ, THE FIRST FILIPINO WORLD LIGHT WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPION


PhilBoxing.com




Roberto Cruz, born November 21, 1941 in Baguio City, won the WBA world light welterweight title. He has 44 total fights as a professional garnering 29 wins with 12 KO victories, 12 losses with 3 defeats by KO and 3 draws per Boxrec.com.

Cruz made his professional debut on February 10, 1955, but lost to Laureano Llarenas by decision in a four rounder. He was defeated again in the second bout and finally got his first victory in his third fight winning over Peping Cortez with a third round knockout.

Cruz won a title in October 1, 1959 by defeating Leo Espinosa via twelve round decision and grabbed the Philippine Games & Amusement Board (GAB) Philippine featherweight title.

He also won the GAB Philippine welterweight title by winning over Rocky Kalingo via unanimous decision in April 26, 1962. He also fought non-title bouts thereafter and was defeated five times in twelve bouts.

In March 21, 1963, Cruz travelled to the United States for his first fight outside the Philippines. He faced Mexican boxer Battling Torres for the vacant WBA light welterweight title.

The fight venue was the Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. Cruz was part of a championship triple-header which also featured Emile Griffith fighting Luis Manuel Rodriguez for the WBA and WBC world welterweight title and Sugar Ramos facing Davey Moore for the WBA and WBC featherweight title.

Cruz, who was the underdog that time, knocked Torres out in the first round to win the title. Torres was heavily favored to win, in fact he was selected by the Ring Magazine in its list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. But the night just belonged to the Filipino new world champion.

However, Cruz's upset of Torres was engulfed by the shocking news of the sudden collapse, then hospitalization and subsequent death of Moore after his fight with Ramos.

For his first title defense, Cruz fought again in the Philippines this time against American Eddie Perkins on June 15, 1963. Perkins, a former world champion, won the fight and wrested the title with a fifteen round decision before 25,000 spectators at the Rizal Baseball Stadium.

Cruz did not fare well since the start as he was knocked down in the first round and was badly battered in the third and sixth rounds. He was able to finish the fight, but the verdict was a clear defeat for the champion as he failed to retain his title. He was not able to fight for a world championship again.

Cruz's last fight as a professional happened on September 28, 1968 in Angeles City, where he suffered a knock out in the third round inflected by Fel Pedranza.

Cruz was the first Filipino world light welterweight/super lightweight champion.

He also finished his professional career with a record of 1-1 with 1 KO in world title fights.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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