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Friday night special: Two title fights for the price of none! Easter vs Cruz

Easter vs Cruz

The last time we saw Robert Easter Jr., he was lying face first on the canvas. It wasn’t a punch that dropped him, but rather raw emotion after hearing he’d eked out a split decision over fellow unbeaten slugger Richard Commey.

With that victory, Easter claimed a vacant 135-pound title and fulfilled a lifelong goal of becoming a world champion, much to the delight of hundreds of friends and family members who made the trek from the boxer’s native Toledo, Ohio, to Reading, Pennsylvania.

Tonight, Easter’s supporters won’t have to travel very far at all to watch their 26-year-old hero defend his crown for the first time against veteran Luis Cruz.

“Being able to headline a big fight in my hometown after winning a championship is a dream come true,” Easter said. “My first dream was to win the world title, and now I get to defend it in front of my people.”

A 31-year-old Puerto Rico native, Cruz launched his career with 19 straight wins (15 by knockout) before hitting a rough patch in which he dropped four of six fights. He’s gotten back on track in the last 15 months, though, picking up a victory over Roberto Acevedo and fighting once-beaten Ivan Redkach to a hard-hitting split draw.

Cruz realizes he’s in for the fight of his life against Easter, who had stopped five straight opponents before going the distance against Commey. But the challenger insists he’s ready to shock the world in his first-ever title fight.

“This is a great opportunity for me, and I’m planning on putting on my best performance,” Cruz said. “I am going to fight for my home of Puerto Rico and become another world champion from the island.”