Isaac Cruz (left) landed several solid left hooks on Giovanni Cabrera but wasn’t able to get the knockout. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS – It was not an entertaining fight to watch, but Isaac Cruz found a way to come out on top.
Cruz won the WBA lightweight title elimination bout by split decision over Giovanni Cabrera Saturday night before a partisan crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.
One judge scored the bout 114-113 for Cabrera, while the other two judges scored the bout 114-113 and 115-112 for Cruz, who improved to 25-2-1 (17 knockouts). Cruz, who resides in Mexico City, is ranked No. 3 by The Ring at 135 pounds.
From the opening bell, Cruz implemented his customary come-forward style, walking Cabrera down while landing lead left hooks and right crosses to the head.
The southpaw Cabrera attempted to keep Cruz at bay by sticking his right arm out or jabbing Cruz. Undaunted, Cruz continued to close the distance, finding some success by connecting the occasional right hand counter or left cross that snapped back Cabrera’s head.
By the middle rounds, Cabrera attempted to score by landing uppercuts as Cruz continued to barrel in and the tactic worked at times, but the punches lacked power and Cruz continued to connect with hooks and crosses to the head.
In round eight, Cruz was deducted a point by referee Thomas Taylor for headbutting Cabrera in a clinch. Cruz had already been warned once earlier in the fight for the same foul.
Cabrera finally let his hands go during the final three rounds of the fight. He was busier and landed more punches, but Cruz had built a big enough lead to win the decision.
Cruz has now won his last three fights since losing a close unanimous decision to Gervonta Davis in December 2021. He has been vocal for a rematch against Davis, especially during fight week.
While he was victorious, Cruz expected a different type of fight from Cabrera.
“He never hit me with clean shots,” said Cruz after the fight. “I have a lot of respect for all my students. We expected an easy fight (against Cabrera).”
During the Showtime pay-per-view telecast, Ryan Garcia reportedly called out Cruz. Garcia now campaigns at 140 pounds and lost his last fight to Davis on April 22.
Cruz was open to facing Garcia.
“If the people want and his people are not scared, then he can come here and fight me,” said Cruz.
Cabrera, who resides in Hollywood, California, falls to 21-1, 7 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]