Robert Easter Jr., Rau’shee Warren to defend titles on Feb. 10
Robert Easter Jr.’s first world title defense is finally set.
Easter will defend his IBF lightweight title against Luis Cruz on Feb. 10, it was announced Thursday afternoon.
The 12round bout will take place at the Huntington Center in Easter’s hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Also fighting on the “PBC: The Next Round” card will be Rau’shee Warren defending his WBA bantamweight title against Zhanat Zhakiyanov of Kazakhstan.
Both fights will air live on Bounce TV, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.
In a back-and-forth bout on Sept. 9, Easter (18-0, 14 knockouts) overcame a knockdown in round eight to win a split decision over Richard Commey of Ghana.
The 25-year-old Easter has fought throughout the country but will be fighting in Toledo for the first time as a pro.
“Being able to headline a big fight in my hometown after winning a championship is a dream come true,” Easter said a release. “My first dream was to win the world title and now I get to defend it in front of my people. I had great fan support at my last fight in (Reading) Pennsylvania and I know everybody is even more excited to see me at home.
“This is going to be big for the city. I can’t wait to showcase my skills.”
It will be a voluntary defense for Easter, who is ranked No. 3 by THE RING magazine. The IBF recently placed Cruz at No. 15 in its rankings.
Cruz (22-4-1, 16 KOs) has lost four of his last eight bouts. The fighter from Las Pedras, Puerto Rico has not fought since April 19, when he fought to a 10-round split draw against Ivan Redkach.
The 31-year-old Cruz has also lost to Edner Cherry and Jose Felix. Cruz lost by split decision to journeyman Joaquin Chavez in August of 2014.
Like Easter, Warren (14-1, 4 KOs) will also be defending his title belt for the first time.
The three-time U.S. Olympian won his title on June 18, winning a majority decision over Juan Carlos Payano. The fight was a rematch of their August 2015 bout, which Payano won by split decision in a foul-filled contest.
Zhakiyanov (26-1, 18 KOs), Warren’s mandatory challenger, has not fought since Nov. 7 of last year, when he defeated Yonfrez Parejo by decision.
He has won 21 bouts straight.
Also fighting on the card is lightweight Jamel Herring (15-1, 8 KOs) in a 10-round bout. Word is Herring is penciled to fight Argenis Mendez but nothing official has been announced.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.
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