Ruiz-Ortiz, Cruz-Ramirez set for September 4 in Los Angeles

 Former unified heavyweight champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. and top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz will meet in a much-anticipated 12-round WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator headlining a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on September 4 in a Labor Day Weekend clash from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

The pay-per-view telecast will begin at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and feature a stacked lineup of rising and accomplished stars in high-stakes matchups. In the co-main event, hard-hitting Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz will step in to take on fellow Mexican and veteran contender Eduardo Ramírez in a 12-round WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator in the co-main event.

The action will also see the return of popular three-division champion Abner Mares in his first action in three years as he battles former title challenger Miguel Flores in a 10-round super featherweight attraction, plus exciting rising star José Valenzuela duels former world champion Jezreel Corrales in the 10-round lightweight pay-per-view opener.

Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) shocked the boxing world in 2019 when he was brought in as a late replacement to face heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua and turned the tables on the champion, knocking him out in the seventh round and taking home the titles. The 32-year-old from Imperial, California lost his rematch with Joshua by unanimous decision, but returned to the ring in May 2021, bouncing back from an early knockdown to defeat all-action contender Chris Arreola by unanimous decision in a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View. Ruiz has taken down a slew of contenders throughout his heralded career, which dates back to a prolific amateur run that included two Mexican Amateur National Championships.

“I’m so excited to get back in the ring in front of all of my fans in Los Angeles on September 4,” said Ruiz. “This is my chance to prove to everyone that I’m going to be heavyweight champion of the world again. I’m super motivated to be facing a great fighter like Luis Ortiz, so my fans can expect to see me at my best. Everyone has wanted to see this fight and we’re going to give everyone a war on fight night.”

With exceptional power and sublime technical skills, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) has been a fixture atop heavyweight rankings for years, with his only defeats coming in memorable contests against former longtime heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Born in Camaguey, Cuba and trained by longtime coach Herman Caicedo in Miami, Ortiz won three bouts between Wilder contests, defeating Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer and Razvan Cojanu. Most recently, Ortiz topped a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on New Year’s Day, recovering from early adversity to floor former heavyweight world champion Charles Martin on his way to a sixth-round knockout.

“I’m blessed to be back in a position to get closer to achieving my goal of becoming the first heavyweight champion of the world from Cuba,” said Ortiz. “Anyone who doubts me, has only fueled me to keep going. I know that I have to make a big statement in this fight, and that’s my plan on September 4. I respect Andy Ruiz, but he’s standing in my way and I’m going to do whatever it takes to go through him.”

The 24-year-old Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KOs) returned to the ring in April with a knockout over former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa after dropping a competitive decision against three-division champion Gervonta Davis last December. A native of Mexico City, Cruz shot up the lightweight rankings in 2020, announcing his presence with an electrifying first-round knockout over veteran Diego Magdaleno in October. Cruz followed that up in 2021 by winning a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Matías Romero in March and by defeating former champion Francisco Vargas by decision in June ahead of the Davis clash.

“I’m very happy and motivated to come back in the ring in front of the great fans in Los Angeles on September 4,” said Cruz. “I’ll be facing a very good opponent and I’ll be back at the same arena where I faced one of the best fighters in the division in Gervonta Davis. Stepping back into the ring there is pumping me up even more and I can’t wait to start throwing my hands on fight night.”

Fighting out of Sinaloa, Mexico, Ramírez (27-2-3, 12 KOs) has moved himself into title contention with five-straight victories as he looks to make a splash in his lightweight debut against Cruz. The 29-year-old most recently earned a decision victory over Luis Melendez in May, which followed up a dominant decision against Miguel Marriaga in December 2021. Ramírez is currently riding wins in seven of his last eight fights since losing to then featherweight champion Lee Selby in 2017.

“I am coming up in weight for this fight, but that just means I’ll be that much stronger,” said Ramírez. “I’m excited for this opportunity, because after I win, I will be recognized as a top fighter in my new division. He’s not going to outbox me and he can’t knock me out, so he has no way to win. I’m planning on showing the world what I can do against a perfect opponent for me.”

One of the most accomplished fighters of this era, Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) will return to the ring in a bid to continue adding to his already sterling resume in the sport. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and now living in Montebello, Calif., Mares was a member of the Mexican Olympic boxing team in the 2004 Athens Olympics before going on to win world titles at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight. His two battles for the featherweight world title against Leo Santa Cruz epitomized the kinds of high-volume clashes that set Mares apart from many of his contemporaries. Throughout his career, Mares owns victories over top contenders and champions including Daniel Ponce De Leon, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko, Anselmo Moreno and Jesus Cuellar.

“I know everyone is used to seeing me suited and booted on T.V. talking about the beautiful sport of boxing, but let me remind everyone, I’m a bad m-f’er in the ring, and on September 4, the world is going to remember what they missed,” said Mares. “I’m the best in boxing in speed, power, intelligence, and good looks. Miguel Flores is on my radar, and I’m sorry to say, he’s going back to elementary school after meeting me. I’m a master in this game, and I’m back. Welcome to Team Mares 2022.”

Flores (24-4, 12 KOs) bounced back from back-to-back defeats in his previous outing that took place last June, as he earned a decision over Diuhl Olguin. The 29-year-old had lost a pair of contests in challenging four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz in November 2019 and top contender Eduardo Ramirez in December 2020. Born in Mexico and now residing in Spring, Texas, Flores turned pro in 2009 at just 17-years-old and was victorious in his first 22 bouts.

“I’m very motivated to be on the big stage once again and I’m excited to get into the ring,” said Flores. “This is a huge opportunity for me against a three-division champion and I’m doing everything I can to make the most of it. This is Michoacán vs. Guadalajara and we’re going to give all the fans a great show on September 4.”

The 23-year-old Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KOs) trains as a stablemate of unbeaten two-time world champion David Benavidez as he looks to continue cementing his contender status in 2022. Valenzuela was sensational his last time in the ring as he blasted out former world champion Francisco Vargas via a round-one knockout in April. Born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, Valenzuela turned pro in 2018 and rode a five-bout knockout streak before earning his first 10-round decision in a victory over Deiner Berrio in September 2021.

“I’m extremely motivated for this fight,” said Valenzuela. “My opponent is an accomplished former champion and this is the kind of challenge that I’ve been asking for. I’m going to come into this fight extremely prepared to make another statement on September 4 and give the fans a great show like I always do.”

The 30-year-old Corrales (26-4, 10 KOs) has won three-straight fights since moving up to lightweight in 2021 and has ascended to the number two ranking in the WBA. Fighting out of San Miguelito, Panama, Corrales won a super featherweight title in 2016 when he went to Japan and knocked out Takashi Uchiyama before winning a decision in their rematch. He also owns victories over current former champion Rene Alvarado and veteran contender Robinson Castellanos.

“Valenzuela is a good young fighter with some skills, but he doesn’t have the experience to handle what I’m bringing to the ring,” said Corrales. “This is going to be like when the great Panamanian champion Roberto Duran took Davey Moore to school. Class is going to be in session on September 4 and no amount of studying is going to have him ready for what I’m planning to do.”

Davis on fighting Sunday: ‘You have football during the day and boxing at night’

 Five-time world champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis and hard-hitting contender Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz previewed their battle for Davis’ WBA Lightweight Title at a media workout Wednesday before they headline a SHOWTIME PPV this Sunday, December 5 from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

The workout also featured unbeaten super welterweight contender Sergio Garcia, who takes on rising star Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora in a WBC Super Welterweight World Title Eliminator that serves as the co-main event of the pay-per-view telecast beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Here is what Davis and Cruz had to say Wednesday from Wild Card Boxing in Los Angeles:

GERVONTA DAVIS

Photo: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

“The change in opponent didn’t affect much in my training. That’s just the sport of boxing. You have to be ready for anything. I always know that I have to adapt to whatever comes my way.

“Everyone says he’s going to come forward, but that’s easier said than done. If he does, we’ll give the fans an exciting fight. We know that’s his game plan. I just have to be smart, do what I do best and put on a perfect performance.

“Just make sure you tune into this fight. This is going to be a good one. I’ve been training 13 weeks for this, so I’m going to be ready and well prepared.

“It’s amazing to be fighting on Sunday. You have football during the day and boxing at night. I have a lot of young fans that watch me and I think this is going to be a great show.

“I’m excited to be in Los Angeles. I was made for this stage and I can’t wait to put on a great performance Sunday.

“Having a second child has matured me as a person and a fighter. I have two daughters to look after. I know I have to go out there and do my thing as a professional athlete, but I know the responsibility that also comes with being a father.”

ISAAC CRUZ

Photo: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

“We are extremely motivated for this fight. We have been training really hard and we’ve put in the maximum effort day after day. This Sunday, we’re going to be ready for the challenge.

“We have been preparing the best way that we can. We are going to fight smart. We’re going to stay within our style and then go forward with the best strategy to win the title.

“Gervonta is a great champion and if he said that I’m a tougher fight than Rolando Romero, then there is a reason for that. He knows that I’m a better fighter than Romero because he saw me fight in San Antonio. There is a reason for his comments.

“I’m here to do my job to win the fight, and whether it’s by decision or knockout I’m going to try to win no matter what.

“I am going to show everybody that Isaac Cruz is a true Mexican warrior and I’m going to show them what I’m worth with every punch I throw. They will see what I’m worth on Sunday, December 5.”

Luis Arias to battle Vaughn Alexander on non-televised undercard of Davis-Cruz

Super welterweight contender Luis “Cuba” Arias will take on veteran Vaughn Alexander in a 10-round showdown that tops the non-televised undercard this Sunday, December 5 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

The event is headlined by five-time world champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis defending his WBA Lightweight Title against hard-hitting contender Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz live on a SHOWTIME PPV telecast that begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

The undercard will also feature undefeated prospects entering the ring as Baltimore’s Malik Warren (5-0, 5 KOs) takes on Eric Manriquez (7-12-1, 3 KOs) in a six-round super featherweight attraction, Washington, D.C.’s Jalil Hackett (2-0, 2 KOs) in a four-round welterweight showdown against Darynn Leyva (1-2-1, 1 KO), and heavyweight Carlos Garcon (2-0, 2 KOs) battling Jason Soto (3-1-1, 3 KOs) in a four-round duel.

A pair of female fights round out the lineup, as super flyweight contender Ava Knight (19-2-5, 5 KOs) faces New Orleans-native Indeya Smith (2-3-2, 1 KO) in an eight-round bout, and unbeaten prospect Mia Ellis (2-0, 2 KOs) competes in a four-round super featherweight contest against Elizabeth Tuani (1-4, 2 KOs).

Born in Milwaukee, Arias (19-2-1, 9 KOs) returned to the ring in June and earned a career-best victory in defeating former unified champion Jarrett Hurd on the Mayweather vs. Paul SHOWTIME PPV undercard. The 31-year-old has faced top competition throughout his career, including going the distance with former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs in a 2017 duel. Arias racked up wins in his first 18 pro fights after turning pro in 2012 and the Mayweather Promotions’ fighter now trains in Las Vegas. He will be opposed by the St. Louis-native Alexander (15-6-1, 9 KOs), who most recently fought to a split-draw against Winfred Harris Jr. in August. The older brother of former two-division champion Devon, Alexander owns a victory over previously unbeaten Money Powell IV in 2019.

Davis: ‘(Isaac)Cruz coming forward could make the fight a lot easier for me’

Five-time world champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis held a “Turkey Giveaway” on Tuesday, as the WBA Lightweight Champion, along with Mayweather Promotions, handed out 150 turkeys, plus gift cards and more to Las Vegas residents.

The giveaway took place following Davis’ media workout in preparation for his world title defense against hard-hitting contender Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz taking place Sunday, December 5 live on SHOWTIME PPV from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Here is what Davis, his trainer Calvin Ford, and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe had to say Tuesday from Mayweather Boxing Club:

GERVONTA DAVIS

Photo: Dave Mandel/SHOWTIME

“I really didn’t have a family that was together to celebrate Thanksgiving when I was young, but now I have my two little daughters, so I’m definitely looking forward to the holidays. I’m going to miss Thanksgiving because of the fight, but Christmas is going to be big this year.

“It’s always great to be able to help out. I was always looking for someone to help me when I was a kid, so to be in a position to help others now really means a lot.

“This is going to be an exciting fight. Cruz comes to fight each and every time. I’m just waiting to see what he brings to the table on December 5, and we’ll capitalize off of his mistakes.

“Cruz coming forward could make the fight a lot easier for me, but there are definitely challenges with that style too. He comes forward with his head a lot. I’m definitely going to be ready for that.

“The change in opponent didn’t really affect my mindset or my game plan. Trash talking doesn’t matter to me anyway. We all have to get out there and perform when it’s time to.

“Anything that he does dirty in there, I’ll be ready for. He better be prepared, because whatever he dishes out, I’m going to give it right back to him.

“He’s an explosive fighter. We have to see what he brings on December 5. I’m looking forward to it. I want to give the fans another action-packed fight.

“Fighting at STAPLES Center is big. I’m happy to be in this position to be able to go out there and put on a great performance. I’m just a kid from Baltimore city who’s trying to make something out of boxing, and we’re here now headlining at STAPLES Center. I’m definitely using that motivation to my advantage.”

Cruz on Davis: ‘When I win, I know he’s going to want the rematch’

Lightweight contender Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz has embraced the underdog role heading into his showdown against WBA Lightweight Champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis which headlines a SHOWTIME PPV on Sunday, December 5 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

“I have proven time and time again that my drive and desire to be champion is too big to be ignored,” said Cruz. “This fight won’t be the exception. I am going to pull off the upset and a brand new star will be born on December 5.”

The 23-year-old Cruz has put together a 21-fight unbeaten streak heading into his first world title clash, including most recently defeating former champion Francisco Vargas by unanimous decision live on SHOWTIME in June. Now, as he prepares to face the fast-rising star Davis, Cruz brings the hunger of an underdog into every aspect of his training.

“My motivation to be at my very best for this fight is the biggest key for me day in and day out,” said Cruz. “This is the fight that I’ve always dreamed of. The work we do in the gym, the runs I go on and the conditioning drills I push through, are all fueled by my motivation to make the most of this opportunity.”

The Mexico City-native is the latest in his family’s deep history in the sport, as he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather Memo, his father Isaac Sr., his uncles Eduardo and Guillermo, and his older brother Diego, who all fought professionally. Despite that familial pressure, Cruz was actually initially interested in the sport to keep himself on a positive path in life.

“Boxing was always in my blood, but my main motivation to get into boxing as a kid was steering myself away from bad role models and influences in my neighborhood,” said Cruz. “I was six-years-old when I decided to tag along to the gym one day with my grandpa, and I really liked it. A passion for the sport was born, and now it’s just a full-blown love story between boxing and I.”

In addition to his family, Cruz had heard from the legendary Mexican champion Julio César Chávez before securing the Davis fight. The conversation turned out not only to be prescient, but added another motivating factor for Cruz heading into this fight.

“Chávez told me to make sure I’m always staying ready in case that fight with Gervonta was going to become a reality,” said Cruz. “Afterwards, he told me that I have the courage needed to defeat Gervonta. The fact that he said that to me speaks volumes about the strides I’ve made as a person and as a fighter.”

Cruz will be looking to take advantage of the strong contingent of Mexican and Mexican-American boxing fans in Los Angeles who will surely be in his corner on fight night against Davis. Despite that expected edge, Cruz knows he can’t rely on it to help him in the ring.

“I am so happy to be fighting in Los Angeles with all of the Mexican fans,” said Cruz. “But I have to remember that in the end, it’s just going to be me and Gervonta face-to-face in the ring. Of course it motivates me that I’m going to feel right at home. But I just can’t let it distract me or trick me into becoming overconfident.

“Defeating Gervonta Davis is the only thing on my mind. When I win, I know he’s going to want the rematch and I can promise that I will train twice as hard for that fight when it happens.”

Davis on fight with Cruz: ‘This is going to be one of the best fights of the year’

Unbeaten five-time world champion and boxing’s hottest attraction Gervonta “Tank” Davis and hard-hitting Isaac “Pitbull’’ Cruz previewed their showdown for Davis’ WBA Lightweight Championship during a virtual press conference Monday before they square off on Sunday, December 5 live on SHOWTIME PPV from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Davis’ third-straight pay-per-view headlining attraction will see him take on the IBF-ranked No. 2 lightweight in Cruz, a Mexico City-native who has earned his ‘Pitbull’ moniker through his hardnosed style.

Here is what the press conference participants had to say Monday:

GERVONTA DAVIS

Photo: Amanda Westscott/Showtime

“I’m happy and excited to be in this position, I’ve been working hard getting ready for this new opponent. I know Cruz is going to come to fight. The fans are going to be the winners in this fight, because we’re both coming in prepared to be at our best. I’m ready to put on a great show on December 5.

“Anything can happen in boxing, so I just try to stay on task. I’m always ready to step up to any challenge thrown my way and get the job done.

“This is a more interesting fight now, because we both come forward. This is going to be something great for the fans and another exciting night for the sport of boxing. May the best man win. We’re both coming with our ‘A’ games.

“He can say I haven’t faced someone like him, but he’s never fought anybody like me either. I can box and I can hit. We’ll see what he’s saying when he gets hit in the face.

“December 5 is going to be fireworks for sure. It’s going to be something you can’t miss. Don’t go get your popcorn or anything like that during this fight. This is another tough task, but this is what I’m made for.

“You always have to adapt in boxing. No matter what comes your way. I’m going to adapt to Cruz. I’m figuring out every day how Cruz is thinking and what he’s going to bring to the fight.

“Cruz has impressed me in his past fights. He comes in there to win. He doesn’t look to just hang in there. He wants to go in and take it. He’s not an opponent I can overlook. A win over him would be big for me.

“It is different training to fight a shorter opponent. I usually fight guys taller than me, so it’s an adjustment. It’s another thing I have to adapt to. Everything we’re doing is to figure him out.

“December 5 is going to be a fireworks show. This is going to be one of the best fights of the year. It’s not just a boxing match, it’s an event. Make sure you come out.

“I’m excited to be in this position. I’m grateful for it. I’m trying to continue to grow as a fighter and just improve each day.”

ISAAC CRUZ

“December 5 is going to be a great fight. I’m ready to shock the world and become the next star in the pantheon of Mexican boxing champions.

“I’m ready to put on a show on December 5 at STAPLES Center. There were a wide-array of feelings when I knew I got this fight, but most of all, it made me really motivated to be ready for this opportunity.

“We are not overconfident in any way, but Gervonta has not fought anyone with my style and with my characteristics. We’re working really hard to make sure my style will work the best that it can on December 5.

“The real winner of this fight is going to be the fans. ‘Pitbull’ and ‘Tank’ are going to crash into each other and people will be on the edge of their seats.

“I can guarantee that I’m hungry and motivated to win this fight. I’m fighting for more than myself, I’m fighting for my family and to make my country proud. I know that if I win this fight, it will change my whole career.

“The key to defeating Gervonta is for me to want it more. I want that belt in my hand. It’s going to come down to determination.

“I’m always thankful for the opportunities I get. It’s my job to work hard and take advantage of each opportunity as I get them. I’m going to come forward and present my power. Once he feels my power, the fight is going to turn toward me.

“It’s up to Gervonta to show that he’s a superstar in the ring. I don’t see him as an impossible task to defeat at all.

“I always want to fight the best and Gervonta is one of the best. I’m training really hard so that I’m up to that challenge.”

Davis: ‘I respect Isaac Cruz for stepping up and taking the fight, but everyone knows what I do’

Unbeaten five-time world champion and boxing’s hottest attraction Gervonta “Tank” Davis will defend his WBA Lightweight Championship against hard-hitting Isaac “Pitbull’’ Cruz on Sunday, December 5 live on SHOWTIME PPV from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Cruz, ranked No. 2 in the IBF, steps in to replace Rolando Romero, who withdrew from the fight after he was recently accused of sexual assault.

Davis’ third-straight pay-per-view headlining attraction will see him battle the hardnosed Cruz, who has rightly earned the nickname “Pitbull’’ during his professional career.

Davis (25-0, 24 KOs), star of the Mayweather Promotions stable, added another highlight filled performance in June, as he stopped previously unbeaten Mario Barrios to capture a 140-pound title and become a three-division world champion. The Baltimore-native captured his lightweight championship with a 12th-round knockout of former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in December 2019.

“I respect Isaac Cruz for stepping up and taking the fight, but everyone knows what I do,” said Davis. “I come in looking for the knockout and that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this fight. I’m back in Los Angeles where the stars shine and I’m going to light it up against Isaac Cruz at STAPLES Center on December 5.’’

The 23-year-old Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KOs) will be looking to rough up Davis and make him work overtime if he wants to come away with the win. A native of Mexico City, Cruz shot up the lightweight rankings in 2020, announcing his presence with an electrifying first-round knockout over veteran Diego Magdaleno in September. Cruz followed that up in 2021 by winning a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Matías Romero in March, and most recently defeating former champion Francisco Vargas by decision in June. Since making his U.S. debut in December 2019, the 23-year-old has gone unbeaten in his next four ring appearances, appearing on SHOWTIME three times in addition to beating Magdaleno on the Gervonta Davis vs. Leo Santa Cruz SHOWTIME PPV undercard.

“First I want to thank Gervonta Davis and his team for this opportunity – an opportunity I won’t let get past me,’’ Cruz said. “God willing I’ll be world champion on December 5. This fight is a very big motivation for me as a professional and as a personal goal. I’m sure after December 5 everyone in boxing will know the name Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz.’’

Magdaleno is focused on getting another title shot

Former world title challenger Diego Magdaleno shared insights into his training camp as he nears an IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator bout against Isaac Cruz that kicks off SHOWTIME PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) action on Saturday, October 31 from the Alamodome in San Antonio in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.”This is my second fight working with ‘Bones’ Adams out of his gym in Las Vegas,” said Magdaleno. “I’ve actually known him since I was nine-years-old, so I consider him like my best friend. I trust him with my life. I’ve spent some time training for this fight in Scipio, Utah too, pulling hay bales and doing all sorts of interesting drills. I’ve gotten in some good sparring here in Vegas, and I even went out to California for some sparring, too.

“I was on one of the last fight cards pre-pandemic, and I’m honored to be on the first fight card with a live crowd since the pandemic began. It’s been a hectic year, but I’m happy with where things are for me heading into this fight. Coach Adams has been doing a great job with training, but he also handles my strength and conditioning. He’s got a huge gym with a lot of motivated fighters and it’s great to be around that kind of atmosphere. And my fiancé has been handling my nutrition for my last four fights. So, it’s great to have her involved also.”

Magdaleno returns to action after upsetting Austin Dulay in Dulay’s hometown of Nashville, Tenn. in February, dropping him in round seven on his way to a 10-round unanimous decision. He credits his team in training camp for the impressive performance against Dulay.

“I’ve always taken pride in being a professional, but I learned that I can be very dangerous with the right team around me,” said Magdaleno. “I went into that fight kind of being considered a steppingstone for Dulay, but I showed that I’m still a strong fighter. People counted me out and they made a mistake. I’m just super happy that I found Coach Adams and got a proper team organized around me. I was able to change people’s minds with just one fight. Now I’m in a title eliminator, and with a win on October 31, I’ll have my third shot at a world title.”

The 33-year-old has come up short in his most high-profile fights to date, dropping title bouts to Terry Flanagan and Roman Martinez, in addition to a 2019 loss against current lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez. With those experiences and an improved training structure around him, Magdaleno believes the lessons he’s taken from those fights will be instrumental going forward.

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned is to stay calm,” said Magdaleno. “When I start thinking too far ahead, that’s when things go wrong. Coach Adams has a great way of keeping me grounded and composed. He knows how to simplify things for me and communicate exactly what I need to do, which makes it less stressful for me. And we’ve done some other things, like correcting my footwork and the angles that I use.”

In the 22-year-old Cruz, Magdaleno will be opposed by a fast-rising and exciting Mexican fighter looking to make a mark in his biggest fight to date. With an 11-year age gap, Magdaleno plans to use his extensive experience to his advantage on October 31.

“Cruz is something I’ve seen before,” said Magdaleno. “I’ve fought lots of Mexican-style fighters like him who don’t have a lot of technical skill but possess a come-forward style. So, I think I’ll be able to go back to what I know. I’ll just have to stay fluid and pick Cruz apart. He’s a guy who likes to fight on the inside and throw lots of overhand punches and hooks. I’ll break him down like I did my last opponent.”

Magdaleno will look to continue his career renaissance against Cruz and put himself back on track for another world title opportunity. With all that he’s been through during his career, Magdaleno remains highly motivated to prove critics wrong and achieve his goal of becoming a world champion.

“What I know is that when everyone counts you out, you just have to believe in yourself,” said Magdaleno. “When I decide to hang up the gloves, it’ll be because I want to, not because others say I should. I have my confidence back now and I’m very happy with where I’m going. Being one shot away from the title that I dreamed of as a child is a huge motivating factor for me. And I fight for my family, too. I’m a different person now. I’m more mature and I think I’ll be able to prove that to people in this fight.”