A FIGHTER’S career will have a win or defeat that creates a moment where everything changed for them.

When the time comes to look back on their biggest nights in the ring, they will want to tell you stories of success and glory, not tales of regret where they were remembered as the nearly man or woman.

Isaac Cruz, 25-2-1 (17), is now into his 10th year as a pro. A blip in his sixth fight losing to Luis Montano Alvarez over eight rounds was a lesson for Cruz about discipline, commitment, and improvement.

His progression, though, continued and the Mexican’s career took off in America by putting his pressure tactics to good use to beat Thomas Mattice in 2020. This was followed by a spectacular performance against Diego Magdaleno with the fight finishing in 53 seconds. The momentum continued in 2021 with a physically tough win against veteran Francisco Vargas.

Later that year “Pitbull” Cruz faced the challenge of emerging superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis. This was to be the defining night in the career of Cruz, at lightweight, in front of over 15,000 fans inside the Stapes Centre in Los Angeles. The Mexico City battler used his strength and pressure to give Davis the toughest night of his career and ended the Baltimore boxer’s 16-fight knockout streak. Despite his best-efforts Cruz lost by unanimous decision but his reputation and credibility had increased.

Twenty-five months later and Cruz is back in the world title picture and his debut at super-lightweight will see him compete for the WBA’s 140lbs world title against Rolando Romero. Their bout acts as chief support to Tim Tszyu vs. Sebastian Fundora in what is Amazon Prime’s first night as broadcast partner to Premier Boxing Champions.

Cruz lost out against Davis and to this day is still best known to fans for his performance. A showing which bettered the efforts of Romero – who lost to Davis in 2022 – and Ryan Garcia’s defeat during his modern-day super-fight against Davis last April.

“I’m focused on March 30 but it’s impossible to have people forget about the Gervonta Davis [fight] because they want to see a rematch,” Cruz told Boxing News.

“So, becoming a world champion will give me a greater possibility of obtaining a rematch but first thing’s first, March 30 and getting the win there.”

Rolando Romero, 15-1 (13 KOs) has typically tried to get under the skin of Cruz during the build-up with his own brand of trash talking. The 28-year-old won his belt 10 months ago in an underwhelming effort against elder statesman of the lightweight division Ismael Barroso. The ninth-round stoppage was a bizarre ending after referee Tony Weeks waved the contest off when very few, if any, punches landed on the Colombian.

BN asked Cruz that regardless of his low opinion of Romero does he think his opponent is a good fighter.

“I respect everybody and he’s a champion for a reason and that’s all I have to say about that.”

Moving on, then…

Earlier this month on March 19 marked the ninth anniversary of Cruz’s professional debut at just 16 years old. A one-round knockout victory against Luis Yan Revilla was the beginning of his adventure and described the time since then as “amazing”.

“They’ve been nine amazing years and we have been evolving and achieving what we want to achieve. There’s also been nine tough years but out of those tough parts we took the best from them, and I’ve been able to become a better person and a better fighter for it.”

“Winning the world title will be a dream come true,” he added. “A culmination of years of effort and it will be about seizing the opportunity after so much time and it will be the confirmation of everything I’ve strived for in my career.”

Defeat to Romero borders on unthinkable for Cruz. He hasn’t come this far to be beaten by someone he has disdain for. And while winning his first major title would mean everything the hopes of landing a financially rewarding rematch against Gervonta Davis will be shredded if he doesn’t beat “Rolly” on Saturday night.

“It will be a huge disappointment,” Cruz said of the possibility.

“I will be basically throwing [away] everything that I’ve done and strived for nine years of my career. And the last three months of preparation will go straight in the trash. I don’t want that to happen.”