Junior Cruzat: A Chilean diamond in the rough
Featherweight prospect Junior Cruzat is lives and breathes boxing, something that will obviously benefit him in the long run as a professional fighter. Manager Tony Tolj is confident Cruzat can become a world titleholder someday.
The unbeaten Cruzat will face Juan Jimenez in a 10-round bout, Friday night, at the Gimnasio Fiscal in his hometown of Llanquihue, Chile.
Cruzat (7-0, 4 knockouts) last fought on February 22, defeating Mauro Barrios by unanimous decision. The fight came over two months after Cruzat defeated Rodrigo Areco by unanimous decision. The victories over Barrios and Areco were eight-round bouts.
The 19-year-old, who made his pro debut two months before his 18th birthday, has benefited from sparring top-level fighters over the last several months, in Las Vegas and Chile. Cruzat has sparred former world title challenger Miguel Gonzalez, flyweight prospect Andres Campos, lightweight prospect Ramon Mascarena Jr. and unbeaten lightweight Raynel Mederos.
Tolj, who also managed Andrew and Jason Moloney, believes Cruzat has a long way to hit his peak as a fighter.
“Junior lives for boxing,” Tolj told The Ring last week. “It’s all he does. I genuinely believe Junior Cruzat will be a future world champion and a star.”
Cruzat, who only lost twice in 80 amateur fights, signed a management agreement with Tolj earlier this year. He recently trained in Las Vegas before traveling back home to Chile to wrap up training for the Jimenez fight.
Cruzat is among a handful of fighters, including Campos and Mascarena, who are prospects from Chile and hope to make a name for themselves in the sport. Tolj believes these fighters and other Chileans he hopes to sign can become major players as prizefighters.
“I truly believe Chile is a diamond in the rough for boxing talent,” said Tolj.
Jimenez (8-9, 1 KO) lost a technical decision to Adan Ochoa after Round 5 of his most recent bout on December 5. The resident Antofagasta, Chile, has lost his last four bouts.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring 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. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
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