Cuban amateur star Andy Cruz signs with Matchroom Boxing
Amateur standout and 2020 Olympic Gold medalist Andy Cruz signed a long-term promotional deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, it was announced on Saturday.
Cruz will likely make his pro debut in July and will campaign at lightweight.
“I am delighted to welcome Andy to the stable,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Andy is one of the most sought-after fighters to make the switch to the pro code, and we are honored to be trusted with the career of such a talented man.
“We’re completely on the same page with Andy and his team, we want to grow his profile and showcase him on the biggest cards; but we also know that a man of his talent will move fast in the sport, and we could be seeing him in massive fights sooner rather than later.
“One day, this may be our greatest ever signing. I would bet on Andy to beat any 135-pounder on the planet now.”
Cruz had a storied amateur career, winning several world championships and finishing with an amateur record of 140 wins and only nine losses.
The 27-year-old captured the 2020 Olympic gold medal, defeating Keyshawn Davis in the final. Davis is The Ring’s 2022 Prospect of the Year.
Cruz was originally scheduled to make his pro debut last year in May, along with several Cuban amateur stars, including Julio Cesar La Cruz, Arlen Lopez, Lazaro Alvarez, and Roniel Iglesias, but was pulled off the card that was to take place in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Cruz reportedly had a disagreement with the team coach, leading to him getting pulled off the card.
About a month later, Cruz escaped from the island, stating he did so ‘legally.’ Several boxing blogs, including Boxeo Cubano, reported Cruz traveled to the Dominican Republic. In July, the Cuban Boxing Federation expelled Cruz from competing for the national team.
Despite the challenges he overcame in the last several months, Cruz believes he can immediately make an impact on the lightweight division.
“Thank God, in the last two years, I have matured a lot as a person, and I have realized that every minute is important,” said Cruz. “That will be the type of fighter you will see in me, the fighter who wants to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way. The boxer who will not only enjoy what he does, but who will do it knowing that he is not doing it just for himself, that he also does it for the team that helped him get to where he is, but above all, for the public that never abandoned him in the most difficult moments.
“The worst is over. I’m here and, for the first time in a long time, I feel that what I’m going to do with my career will benefit me, not only personally, but will also benefit my family and my family already suffered too much because of me. Now it’s their turn to enjoy my sacrifice to the fullest, and I promise you all will see a fighter who will sacrifice to the fullest to reach the top of professional boxing.
“Special thanks to New Champion Promotions for teaming with Eddie and Matchroom to help me achieve my dreams as a professional boxer. I now have the best promotion company in the world in my corner. I also want to thank everyone who has helped me get here. I will exceed any expectations you had of me.”
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]