The unthinkable had happened: a 10-7 round. Just like that, the unification mega-match between Joshua and the winner of the upcoming Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz rematch went up in smoke while Ruiz’s star shot into the stratosphere thanks to his roly-poly physique and Everyman persona.
by Lee Groves.
The Strip was suffering from heatstroke and as the interminable ring introductions began, the official diagnosis declared a fever of 43C.
All rights reserved. “Tis you, tis you must go and I must bide,” he sang as his son shadow-boxed in his corner, a hyperactive kid seeking solace in constant movement. While Cruz enjoyed success employing this strategy, he was surprised by how well-rounded the champion proved to be. So while McGuigan was never the same fighter after losing to Cruz, Cruz was never the same fighter after defeating McGuigan.
Only 35 seconds remained in the fight, and again, McGuigan arose by Steele’s count of three. The percentage of fan cards that disagree with an official result. It wouldn’t be until sometime later that I fully grasped what unfolded in the 15th round — a round that would lift Cruz vs. McGuigan into the history books.
A replacement was needed and Bob Arum swiftly found one in the shape of the unheralded Texan, Steve Cruz. Secondly, it was all his spent body could do to rise from the corner at the chime of the penultimate bell. Exclusively on EYE ON THE RING. A look back at the 1986 Fight of the Year between featherweight champion Barry McGuigan and Steve Cruz. or Subscribe.
Up at three, the buzzed McGuigan walked toward the neutral corner pad with a vacant look in his eyes, but there was enough of a light within to convince Steele he was still fit to fight. 9 rating from the WBA once the previously 20th-rated Cruz was named McGuigan’s new opponent. ‘I hear you won again. McGuigan did his best to avoid Cruz’s follow-up fire, but his shaky legs no longer had the reserves to keep the challenger at bay. The debate on whether politics and sport should ever mix will rumble on forever, but in taking the example of McGuigan in isolation, we can see how the overt rejection of political labels can actually produce a very strong political message. The portion of the crowd that had been chanting for McGuigan now murmured nervously while those cheering for Cruz let their voices be heard with every connect. His muscles twitched like they knew they should but the connection with his brain was as sketchy as a long distance call on a cheap mobile phone. Meanwhile, both men’s faces were beginning to show signs of attrition — discoloration around both of Cruz’s eyes and a small cut near McGuigan’s left eyelid.
Check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription. In fact, he wouldn’t fight again until April 1988, and although he scored TKO wins over Nicky Perez, Francisco Tomas da Cruz and Julio Cesar Miranda before ending his career with a fourth-round TKO loss to Jim McDonnell in May 1989, McGuigan was never again the same force that stood at the doorstep of global superstardom. He fought for a world title twice more, losing by decision to Jorge Paez in August 1989 and by third-round stoppage to Paul Hodkinson in April 1992. For McGuigan, the stakes went far beyond a successful title defense against Cruz. A right-left-right that connected shortly after the midway point sent McGuigan reeling backward, after which he hit the floor with a thud.
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