For boxing to continue to evolve, the young, up & coming talent has to be good while willing to take the torch and run with it. Going back to checking on young talent, I came across twenty-eight-year-old Super Bantamweight prospect Romuel “Cuco” Cruz (6-0-1). Next Friday night, he is slated to appear on the RDR Promotions card live from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA. Romuel is trained by the sharp boxing mind of Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, and that should tell you the level of potential in the Puerto Rican prospect from Arecibo, PR.
The story of Romuel begins with being born in Puerto Rico but moving to North Philadelphia at the young age of two. The family consisted of an older brother and sister, with the latter passing away years later. When asking about his sister and being extremely sensitive to the topic, Cruz opened up and said, “That happened when I was younger. She died because of something the doctor did wrong when she was being born. She was pulled out prematurely and was handicapped for a few years. I was about seven at the time of her death. Losing someone that close hurts, and my parents had the blessing of having another girl being born after the tragedy.”
Although the move to Philly saw the Cruz family land in a bad neighborhood, Cruz admitted that his parents allowed room to experience some things so that they didn't live a sheltered life. With that bit of space, Romuel found himself seeing plenty in the streets of Philly.
Cruz's parents were set up as a traditional household, with his father working to provide for the family while his mother took care of everything at home. His father worked for a Tow Truck company initially to learn the business which led to him owning a company years later. When discussing his introduction to boxing, Romuel remembers the joy of having everyone getting together to watch the fights and have a good time.
“As a little kid, my parents would always watch (Felix) Tito Trinidad fight. Every time Tito had a fight, the whole family would get together to watch it. It was like a party with food and all that. Trinidad was the one that got me into wanting to be a boxer. After the Hopkins fight, I remember saying to myself that I would have won (Laughs),” Cruz told NYF. It's funny that he should bring up Trinidad as his star power was so strong during the peak of his career that every Puerto Rican's favorite fighter was Tito.
It wasn't until his mother took him to the Harold Bay Boxing Club that Romuel started to train as a fighter at the age of fourteen. He spent a few years doing that, and because of the lack of guidance, Cruz ended up getting a late start to the amateur system and competing within those circles. Romuel told NYF, “I was on and off with boxing. I didn't have a coach that would guide me the right way. I would go to the gym, hit the bag, train, and if a fight came up, I would say, cool, I'll take it. I wasn't aware of the tournaments and how you needed that resume for the pros. I didn't know any of that until I got older.”
Cruz continued, “I won the Golden Gloves, state, regionals, and then I went to the Olympic trials with only eight fights. I lied about the fights because I needed fifteen to get in. I made it to the quarter-finals. Later on, I started doing fitness with a guy named John. Breadman (Edwards) was training in the same gym that I was doing fitness while he was working with JRoc (Julian Williams). While I was doing fitness, I stood and watched him work with JRoc and knew that was who I needed. I reached out to him, and he told me, ‘I'll take a chance on you, but you have to be dedicated and committed,' and so here I am. I was twenty-four at the time and have been with him for the last four years.”
Stephen Edwards is known to have a sharp boxing mind and one that doesn't tolerate nonsense. Seeing Romuel Cruz with Breadman tells me that Cruz is serious about his craft and has good fundamentals. So, what lessons has he learned from Breadman over the last four years? Cruz said, “I thought I was good because I was previously training in a small circle, but once I got with Breadman and started getting different sparring and looks, I realized I didn't know half the stuff he was teaching me. I improved a lot once I got with Breadman.” It's refreshing to hear a young fighter being humble in that manner, as we don't get enough of that with many of the young fighters these days.
Since boxing isn't the most profitable sport when your start out, Romuel Cruz has to find other means to provide for his two kids; Jomuel Gatti Cruz & Jomar Cruz. Romuel told NYF, “I cut hair at my house with a little setup. When my dad gets big jobs during the day, I'll go work with him as he really helps me out a lot. My dad helps keep money in my pocket.”
Shifting the focus back to boxing and this fight on the 25th, I asked Cruz about his preparation. Romuel said, “I train out of Shutters Boxing Gym. I've gotten great work at Boot's (Jaron Ennis) gym. Some days we stay at our gym and get work in. We do anything to get the work. I don't know the opponent, but the mindset is the same regardless. I'm worried about what I'm doing. I had fights fall through in the past, which sucks, but I'm always going to put 110% into training.” Editor's Note: It was recently announced that Cruz's opponent will be Frank Boston (3-5) from San Antonio, Texas.
Before ending the call, Romuel had a message for everyone watching the fight live. Cruz told NYF, “Everyone come out and watch me perform. I have a fan-friendly style, and my fights are never boring. Expect a victory.”
My Three Cents
The Super Bantamweight is filled with talented fighters and led by high-level champions. Romuel Cruz knows that the key to progressing this year is to stay busy and look good when he is in the ring. Easier said than done, but I think Cruz will be someone to watch and keep on the radar with Stephen Edwards in his corner.