It was a rematch and a homecoming for Alycia Baumgardner, the undisputed junior lightweight champion, who avenged her only career defeat with a dominant ten-round unanimous decision win over Christina Linardatou. The fight took place at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan, the hometown of Baumgardner, and was the main event of the evening, broadcast on DAZN.
Baumgardner had been adamant leading up to the fight that her loss to Linardatou was a thing of the past and that she was a different fighter since their first encounter five years ago. Linardatou had previously defeated Baumgardner via an eight-round split decision in July 2018 on a club show that seemingly was not documented.
Baumgardner did show her growth as a fighter from the first round. Very quickly Linardatou, a Dominican fighter based in Athens, Greece, entered the ring confident of a repeat but soon looked a bit frustrated. Baumgardner's punches landed and Linardatou's didn't
Round two was much slower. Linardatou used this as an opportunity to find a groove in the fight. A bit of ring rust looked to show as this was only her second fight since giving birth in 2021, which is the reason she gave up her world title.
Yet, the story of the fight was simple - Baumgardner was faster to the punch.
Baumgardner came alive in the fourth round, as she landed a slew of violent shots. Things got intense and words were exchanged at the bell, including Baumgardner was warned by the referee who was calling his last bout of his career.
In round five, Linardatou seemed extremely motivated by the fierce round Baumgardner just had. The two engaged in a fun round that saw Baumgardner continue to get the better of the shots with her focus on the body. but Baumgardner continued to land powerful shots to the body. Baumgardner switched to a southpaw stance and landed a meaningful uppercut.
Round six showcased Baumgardner's skills, as she showed off power, speed, and ring generalship. Linardatou struggled to have any meaningful moments in this round. Towards the end of round eight, it seemed that Linardatou might be very hurt as Baumgardner unleashed a left hook to the body and followed up with a slew of punches as it looked as though Baumgardner was pushing for a stoppage.
In round nine, Baumgardner continued the body attack, but Linardatou showed bravery by absorbing the heavy blows and refusing to back down. However, her output just wasn't enough to win the fight.
Linardatou made a last stand in the tenth round, while Baumgardner knowing she was ahead on the scorecards avoided her.
Linardatou's bid to become a two-division titlist came up short as she dropped to a record of 14-3 (6 KOs). This loss was Linardatou's first loss since a ten-round decision defeat to Katie Taylor in November 2019, which ended her first WBO title reign. Baumgardner improved her record to 15-1 (7 KOs) with the victory. This win marked Baumgardner's ninth consecutive victory since her loss to Linardatou and her fourth successful defense of a junior lightweight title, as well as her first undisputed world title defense.
Andy Cruz, a highly accomplished amateur boxer who won three World Amateur championships and a gold medal for Cuba in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, made his professional debut against Juan Carlos Burgos, a former title challenger, with the judges scoring the fight 100-90 on two cards and one judge scoring it 98-92, all for Cruz.
Cruz was cornered by the father of Jaron "Boots" Ennis, Derek "Bozy" Ennis, and is being fast-tracked to a world title, as his pro debut was a ten-round fight. To put it in perspective, most fighters making their pro debut turn pro in a four-round fight. It is also clear that Cruz wants a world title fight in 2024.
The fight saw Cruz target Burgos' body. Cruz effectively used his jab, but it also seems that Cruz will be more of a project than a ready-to-go professional boxer who can fight the best in the division right away. Cruz is fast and awkward but lacks the power of prior Cuban fighters, such as Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
In the sixth round, Burgos had his best round in which he countered Cruz with a few good right hands. Despite a low blow landing late in the round, Cruz continued to cruise.
'Bozy' Ennis wanted Cruz to focus on the body as he urged him to go for a stoppage. It appeared Cruz tried to follow the instructions, but also seemed as though Cruz was caught between two styles. The best punch Cruz landed was a right hand that rocked back the head of Burgos in the eighth round.
The big question now is what is next?
Cruz wants some of the biggest names in the sport, and now it will be a matter of time before we see those fights.