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Steve Cruz (born November 2, 1963) is a retired American professional boxer who became the WBA World Featherweight Champion on June 23, 1986.[1] His trainer for much of his career was Don Gorman.[2]

Steve Cruz
Real nameEstevan Cruz Jr
Nickname(s)Super Kid
Stevie Cruz
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Born (1963-11-02) November 2, 1963 (age 55)
Fort Worth, Texas, US
Boxing record
Total fights45
Wins by KO19
No contests0

Early life and amateur careerEdit

Cruz was born of modest means in a barrio on the south side of Fort Worth, Texas on November 2, 1963. He graduated from Trimble Technical High School.[1][3] Fairly early in his career, Cruz was trained and managed by Don Gorman, who operated the influential Gorman Gym in Fort Worth. Donald Curry, who would take the WBC Superwelterweight title in 1988, also trained at the Gorman Gymnasium.[4]

An exceptional amateur, Cruz won the 1979 National Junior Olympic Gold Medal at 112 pounds and the 1981 National Golden Gloves title at 119 pounds. He was also a three-time Fort Worth Golden Gloves champion and a two-time Star-Telegram Texas Golden Gloves champion.[5][6] He gained the nickname "Super Kid".

Cruz turned professional in 1981, and won his first nineteen fights between October 1981 and February 1984, fighting almost exclusively in Texas, with a few bouts in Las Vegas.[1]

Professional careerEdit

Early professional career highlightsEdit

On October 22, 1982, Cruz defeated Nicky Perez at Fort Worth's Will Rogers Coliseum before 2,700 fans in a ten-round unanimous decision. It was Cruz's first main event fight and his first full ten-rounder. He commented that he mostly counterpunched and felt somewhat tired by the end of the tenth.[7] Perez would take the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Super Featherweight title in his career. On November 9, Cruz would defeat Perez again in a ten-round unanimous points decision in Las Vegas. Cruz knocked Perez to the mat in the seventh and ninth rounds.[8]

Cruz suffered one of his very few early career knockout losses to Lenny Valdez in Las Vegas in a first-round TKO, only 2:21 into the first round.[1]

On December 3, 1985, Cruz defeated Tommy Cordova at the Showboat Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, in a ninth-round technical knockout. Cordova was down twice in the eighth and once in the ninth.[1] Using hard rights, body shots, and an explosive left jab, Cruz sent Cordova to the mat three times in the bout and gave him a considerable beating. Cordova was down twice in the eighth, first from a left, and then from a right to the body. The bout was stopped by the referee, 2:32 into the ninth round, after Cordova had been down once, and then nearly fell again.[9] The bout was featured on ESPN in some markets.[10] Two months earlier, on September 25, 1985, Cordova had unexpectedly lost to Baby Joe Ruelaz, having had trouble making weight and needing to lose eight pounds quickly.[11]

On February 7, 1986, Cruz defeated Jorge "Rocky" Garcia in Las Vegas in a ten-round mixed decision. Garcia was a powerful puncher with a large percentage of wins by knockout.[1]

Taking the WBA World Featherweight Championship, June 1986Edit

Cruz won the World Boxing Association (WBA) and lineal featherweight title by defeating Barry McGuigan on June 23, 1986 at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, in a 15-round unanimous decision before 10,200 fans. Cruz's win was something of an upset, as he was a replacement for the injured Fernando Sosa.[12] The bout was a grueling, fast-paced brawl in the sweltering 110-degree heat of the outdoor ring. Another factor in the upset was that Cruz was rated only the ninth featherweight in the world by the WBA; McGuigan led the early betting 6 to 1. McGuigan hit the canvas three times, twice in the final fifteenth round from a furious assault by Cruz. After the bout, McGuigan was hospitalized overnight for a mild concussion, and was also affected by severe dehydration from the excessive heat in the arena.[13][14] The bout was proclaimed The Ring magazine's 1986 Fight of the Year.[1][15] Cruz received some training guidance for the bout with McGuigan from Don Gorman, who had him spar with one of his trainees, Troy Dorsey, future 1991 International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Featherweight Champion. Dorsey's aggressive style was similar to McGuigan's, and may have aided Cruz in his upset win.[16]

On November 21, 1986, Cruz defeated Mexican boxer Roger Arevalo in a ten-round points decision at Fort Worth, Texas. Arevalo would later take the Mexican Superfeatherweight title. Cruz took around $20,000 for the bout, a modest sum for a world champion.[2]

Losing the World Featherweight Championship, March 1987Edit

Cruz lost the Featherweight Championship in his first defense to Venezuelan Antonio Esparragoza, the number one-rated challenger, at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth on March 6, 1987 in a twelfth-round technical knockout (TKO).[1] Esparragoza floored Cruz twice in the twelfth round.[17] The Associated Press had Esparragoza winning seven rounds to four for Cruz when the fight was stopped at 2:28 of the twelfth round. It was only Cruz's second defeat in 29 recorded bouts.[18]

Taking the WBC Continental Americas Featherweight Championship, May 1989Edit

On June 14, 1988, Cruz took the World Boxing Council (WBC) Continental America's Featherweight title against Alfred Rangel in a fifth-round technical knockout at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. On August 12 of that year, he defended the title against Fred Adams in Pasadena, Texas, winning in a fourth-round knockout.[1]

On May 14, 1989, he defeated future champion Tracy Harris Patterson in a ten-round split decision at the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Cruz floored Patterson in the final minute of the eighth round with a left hook, though Patterson was up at the count of three. Cruz dominated the ninth and tenth rounds and won the bout in the decision of two of the three judges. Patterson was the adopted son of Floyd Patterson, former heavyweight champion, who was in his corner.[19]

Challenging for the IBF Featherweight title, August 1989Edit

Cruz challenged for the IBF Featherweight title on August 6, 1989 by taking on Jorge Páez, but lost in a twelfth-round unanimous decision in El Paso, Texas. Cruz caught Páez in the middle of the second round with a right that floored him. Paez took a standing eight count and continued the bout. It was the first time Paez had been knocked down in his career.[20]

On March 31, 1991, Cruz took on Rafael Ruelas at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas before a crowd of 800 in a North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title match, losing by knockout 57 seconds into the third round. Cruz went down four times, three times in the second. Ruelas, with a significant five-inch advantage in height and reach, had been undefeated prior to meeting him.[21]

Last shot at WBC World Featherweight title and last competitive boutsEdit

On April 25, 1992, Cruz took on WBC featherweight title holder English boxer Paul Hodkinson, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but lost by a TKO in the 3rd. Hodkinson floored him with a left hook thirty-five seconds into the third round causing the referee to stop the bout. Though Cruz rose from the knockdown, the referee determined he was having trouble seeing.[22] It was Cruz's last attempt at the WBC World Featherweight title.[23][24] After a second-round knockout loss to Yuji Wantanabe in Tokyo, Japan on August 10, 1992, Cruz won two more bouts, with Vicent Castillo and Robert Challa in Fort Worth, before retiring in December 1993.

Life outside boxingEdit

Cruz was working in 1987 as a plumber's apprentice in Fort Worth for Rivera Plumbing, though he had already taken the World Featherweight Championship in 1986. He was living modestly in a three-bedroom house with his wife and extended family. He had hopes of earning a plumber's journeyman's license.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Steve Cruz". BoxRec. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Daugherty, Paul, "Steve Cruz: A Champion With Fast Fists, No Fortune", News Press, Fort Myers, Florida, pg. 82, 19 February 1987
  3. ^ He was born in a Barrio, Daugherty, Paul, "Steve Cruz: A Champion With Fast Fists, No Fortune", News Press, Fort Myers, Florida, pg. 82, 19 February 1987
  4. ^ Wright, Rick, "Cordova Fights for Survival as Pro", Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, pg. 29, 3 December 1985
  5. ^ "Steve Cruz Bio". BoxRec. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Steve Cruz". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Steve Cruz Decisions Tucson's Nicky Perez", The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona, pg. 67, 24 October 1982
  8. ^ Javier Morales, "Nicky Perez Ends Four Year Layoff Tonight Against Medina", The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona, pg. 30, 27 May 1987
  9. ^ Wright, Rick, "Cordova Defeated in Ninth Round TKO", Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, pg. 35, 4 December 1985
  10. ^ "Tuesday Evening Television", Herald and Review, Decatur, Illinois, pg. 72, 1 December 1985
  11. ^ Wright, Rick, Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, pg. 21, 25 November 1985
  12. ^ "Cruz Looking to Learn", Northwest Herald, Woodstock, Illinois, pg. 22, 6 March 1987
  13. ^ McGuigan was dehydrated severely in "Small Boxers Look Large As they Enter the Hall of Fame", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 149, 14 January 2005
  14. ^ Sneddon, Steve, "Battered, Proud McGuigan Keeps Wit About Him", Reno Gazette-Journal, Reno, Nevada, pg. 17, 25 June 1986
  15. ^ Sneddon, Steve, Reno Gazette-Journal, Reno, Nevada, pg. 9, 24 June 1986
  16. ^ Gustkey, Earl, "Boxing", Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, pg. 865, 11 August 1991
  17. ^ "Champ Loses", The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida, pg. 23, 8 March 1987
  18. ^ "Esparragoza Topples Cruz", Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, pg. 23, 8 March 1987
  19. ^ "Boxing, Patterson Loses", The Journal News, White Plains, New York, pg. 30, 15 May 1989
  20. ^ "Sports World, Boxing", Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, pg. 43, 7 August 1989
  21. ^ "Ruelas Makes Short Work of Cruz in Las Vegas", Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, pg. 42, 1 April 1991
  22. ^ "Boxing", The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, pg. 33, 26 April 1992
  23. ^ "Sportscope, Etcetera", Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pg. 20, 26 April 1992
  24. ^ Knockout down occurred 35 seconds into third, in "Sport Stops", Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pg. 87, 27 April 1992

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