Prior to 2020, what we knew about Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz was limited to this: He was Mexican, 5-foot-4, and tough as nails. His breakthrough first-round blowout of talented two-time world title challenger Diego Magdaleno in October of 2020 opened the eyes of a lot of people and showed the world that the diminutive battler from Mexico City could be much more than just another tough pug from south of the border.
A decisive decision victory over former world champ Francisco Vargas paved the way for the biggest fight of his career to date and one that really and truly announced his arrival on the boxing main stage.
Pitbull would give the three-division world champ and pound-for-pound talent Gervonta "Tank" Davis the fight of his professional life over twelve tough rounds. And although Cruz would end up on the losing end of the judges’ decision, his star had ascended.
Dominant stoppage victories over Yuriorkis Gamboa and Eduardo Ramirez have followed the Davis performance and he’s now being mentioned alongside notable fellow lightweight names such as Davis, Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, and Vasiliy Lomachenko. He’s also made it abundantly clear that he wants a crack at all those notable names.
Promoted by Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions and guided by longtime Pacquiao advisor Sean Gibbons, Cruz is knocking on the door of next-level stardom and looking to see who will give him that big opportunity to rock the boxing world even further. Ironically, the first breakthrough star of the Filipino icon’s growing promotional company could be this Mexican scrapper.
Pacquiao, himself, has gone on record as a major supporter of the 24-year-old Pitbull, which is no surprise, since he’s The Pitbull’s promoter. But, still…a word of praise from Pacquiao is worth a volume of praise from others.
"What a performance from Isaac "Putbull" Cruz!!! Wow! One of my favorite fighters!!!," Pacquiao posted via Twitter following Cruz’s second-round blowout of Eduardo Ramirez this past September 4 on the Andy Ruiz-Luis Ortiz pay-per-view undercard.
Even Pacquiao arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez has chimed in on the bright future of his countryman.
"He’s a great fighter with a lot of heart," Marquez recently told Fight Hub TV when asked about Cruz.
"He’s not the most technical, but he hits hard. He gave Gervonta Davis a great fight. Gervonta Davis doesn’t want a rematch. He doesn’t even want to see a photo of him.
"Pitbull Cruz isn’t a pure boxer, but he has a lot of heart, and he delivers. I’d like to see him wait for the winner of Haney vs. Kambosos. He can be undisputed, and then why not fight Gervonta?
"It would be good to see, but why not fight the winner between Haney and Kambosos and then do the rematch?
"He’s a strong fighter, hit hard, and he looks for his opponents.
"It’s important, and people want to see that [knockouts]. You got to remember how happy people were in Los Angeles because he turned up, and people like seeing exciting fighters.
"Look, Pitbull is coming…Mexican boxing has a lot of talent. It’s just a question of time who is the next big figure?"
Pitbull Cruz is indeed coming. Gifted with an iron chin, a single-minded will to win, and a love for fan-friendly battle, the sky seems to be the limit for the young emerging star.
The tough part is coming, though. It won’t be easy to find a willing opponent among the elite, who may opt for safer, softer opposition. Even being mandatory contender to unified lightweight champ Devin Haney doesn’t guarantee a bout with Devin Haney in the immediate future. That’s just the boxing business being the boxing business.
However, until the big one comes, Cruz will keep plugging forward, entertaining fans and chasing greatness.