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Mitchell Shuts Out Cruz on ESPN

BY Alex Stone ON May 03, 2006
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Sharmba Mitchell put his speedy hands on display last night as he put on a boxing clinic against the heavy-handed Jose Luis Cruz on ESPN’s “Wednesday Night Fights.”

Mitchell, 57-5 (30 KO’s), moved like lighting, striking often without warning. His punches were crisp and hard, while in the other corner Cruz, 31-2-2 (26 KO’s), moved like mud.

Do you know how mud moves?

It doesn’t.

It was apparent from the opening bell that the speedy southpaw Mitchell would be far too quick for Cruz to keep up. The first round opened with Cruz throwing often but hitting a lot of nothing as Mitchell slipped and countered. Mitchell then began pawing with the jab, attempting to get a feel for the presumably dangerous Cruz. After a series of jabs, Mitchell unleashed a couple of crisp lefts. Mitchell ended a perfect first round with a nice combination.

Round two appeared to be the only round in which Cruz was actually a live opponent, as he put the pressure on strong, forcing Mitchell into the corner to cover up. Cruz stayed busy in the round with some nice body work, which he is highly regarded for.

Round three began the systematic dominance by Mitchell as the speedster began landing often. Cruz started to answer back with some body shots but did not faze the seasoned Mitchell as he came back with lightning fast combos. The more Cruz threw, the more Mitchell slipped, countering with crisp hooks and sweet straight lefts. Though it was only the third round, Cruz began showing signs of fatigue early.

The fourth opened with Mitchell utilizing a number of swift jab. A sluggish Cruz attempted to answer back, only to miss terribly and be countered by mach-4 combinations. After a series of beautiful uppercuts by Mitchell at the end of the round it became clear that Cruz had probably spent too much time in the gym, as he was already fading fast.

The fifth began identically to the previous round, speedy jabs by Mitchell this time followed by some hard left hands. A shot Cruz did the only thing he could do at this point, he held and leaned on the smaller Mitchell. After breaking free Mitchell unleashed a saga of poetic combinations to end yet another shutout round.

Round six started with some nice combinations by, that’s right, you guessed it… Mitchell. As Mitchell continued to slip and counter Cruz continued to look more lethargic. Just as it looked like Mitchell was taking this round a bit lightly he came on hard with a couple of brutal lefts and another series of combos.

The seventh began again with combos by Mitchell. Cruz finally woke up for about 12 seconds or so, putting on some pressure, only to go back to being a six foot Mexican punching bag as Mitchell continued to land at will, inside and out.

Round eight showed some nice counterpunching by Mitchell, which isn’t saying much when the punches are coming from another continent. Mitchell continued the assault with some nice body shots to Cruz, giving him a taste of his own medicine. Mitchell continued to shut out the inferior Cruz as he kept picking and choosing his shots with tremendous accuracy.

The ninth opened with some more combos by the super-fast Mitchell. An accidental headbutt caused a brief stoppage in the action as Mitchell appeared hurt. However, Mitchell showed true heart, choosing not to take any injury time and the fight picked up right where it left off… with Mitchell beating Cruz senseless.

The tenth and final round was exactly what you would expect it to be, Cruz trying to knock off Mitchell’s head, and Mitchell taking a break to smoke a Cohiba and have a cup of coffee, getting back in time to slip the bombs. The tenth goes to Cruz simply because he was busier, and I just felt plain bad for the guy.

One judge scored the fight 96-94 for Mitchell. The other two judges along with announcer Teddy Atlas scored the bout 97-93 for Mitchell. TheSweetScience scored the bout 98-92 for Mitchell.

A win like this keeps Mitchell’s career afloat for the time being.

Is he a contender?

Yes.

Will he be world champion again?

Probably not.

The fighters in the Welterweight division, as well as all its surrounding divisions, simply have too much talent. “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and Zab Judah will prevent that from happening. However, I do see Mitchell serving a great purpose in the Welterweight division. Mitchell would be perfect for an up-and-coming prospect to test his talent and heart against.

Think of him being a lot like Corley in the Jr. Welterweights, not the best, but very good, and hard to beat. If you want to prove that you belong in the top of the division, a guy like Corley or Mitchell is the guy to beat.

They will without doubt give many highly regarded prospects a run for their money, and will probably even beat half of them, because these warriors serve a huge reality check, displaying skills of a top ten fighter, and the hearts of true champions.

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