Boxing has taken Zeke Luna around the world, and it currently has him in the South African city of Johannesburg with his young Mexican fighter Diego “Demoledor” Cruz awaiting a shot at a world title this weekend.
The longtime professional boxing man who calls Alice home is the promoter for Cruz, a highly-touted 24-year-old boxing prospect from Mexico City. Cruz, a welterweight, has fought a tough line-up in his career and is 18-5-2. Many who follow the sport consider Cruz among the most promising young fighters in Mexico.
Years ago, Luna managed the career of Cruz’s father, Issac Cruz. When the younger Cruz’s boxing fortunes began to rise, the family sought out Luna’s help. Now, the Cruz team and Luna are days away from a world title shot. Cruz is set to fight 12-0 South African Thulani “Tulz Evolution” Mbenge Saturday at the at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.
The fight was set in December, but only recently because more important when it was elevated to a World Boxing Council (WBC) international title fight. The vacant WBC international belt was supposed to be contested by British champion Bradley “Super” Skeete and International Boxing Federation intercontinental welterweight champion Laszlo Toth on February 10. The tournament was canceled after Tete sustained a calf injury in training last month.
Saturday’s title fight is considered a key bout for Mbenga, the undefeated South African welterweight champion because the WBC international championship is an important stepping stone to the outright championship. Most fighters who have been WBC international champions have subsequently progressed to win the major WBC title. Some of the past international champions are Shane Mosely and Oscar De La Joya.
For Luna’s fighter, the bout represents a golden opportunity to break into the upper echelon of the sport.
“(Mbenga) is as tough as they come,” Luna said of his fighter’s opponent. “He should have fought in the Olympic games, but like Diego, he comes from some the poorest people. Like Diego, he had to turn pro out of necessity. They’re both good kids who have both come out of poverty and are looking for a better life.”