Originally printed in The Resident in March of 2008
Cristobal Cruz tops Thomas Mashaba in featherweight fire-fight at Fox Theater in venue’s final boxing card
By Alex Pierpaoli
It’s just a twenty-foot square of canvas but for some reason the ring at Foxwoods Fox Theater has served as the tableau for a myriad of blood and sweat spatter-patterns after so many wars under the feet of modern-day gladiators. Perhaps some old specter of violence was laid down in the region at the time of the Mystic Fort Massacre and over time it leeched up through the casino floor to satiate its fleshy sadistic urges in the fighters who tread there. Perhaps the smell of cigar smoke, the thumping sound system that escorted the fighters to the ring or the always enthusiastic crowds were the cause, but the simple fact was that the Fox Theater was the site of boxing wars in so many different weight classes and the final fight card at the site was no exception.
In a twelve round tilt that featured competitive action throughout, Cristobal Cruz of Tijuana, Mexico defeated Thomas Mashaba of Carletonville, South Africa by twelve-round majority decision. Cruz opened the first round with an energetic but sloppy assault and Mashaba was able to land power punches inside the wide sweeping blows of Cruz. But despite winning many of the early rounds Mashaba was faced with a pressuring volume-puncher in Cruz and as the rounds went by the fusillade of punches thrown by Cruz began taking a toll on Mashaba. By round seven the goose-egg swelling under the right cheek of Mashaba’s face told the tale of all those left hooks Cruz was landing and by round twelve it was Mashaba on unsteady legs as both fighters kept slugging till the final bell.
In the co-main event, Portland, ME’s Jason LeHoullier was lucky to get a draw versus Jose Luis Gonzalez of Garden City, KS. The consummate club-fight, the LeHoullier versus Gonzalez rumble was heavy on brutality and way short on defense. Despite a longer reach and a more varied offense, Gonzalez was content to slug with LeHoullier throughout, which delighted the fans but couldn’t be great news for the gray matter of either fighter. At the end of twelve action-packed rounds the three judges saw the bout as a draw which means we may just see them go at it again.
But the next time LeHoullier and Gonzalez meet it will not be on the hallowed ground of the Fox Theater. Foxwoods’ famous venue and the ring that saw so much combat will return however, as this spring will bring the opening of a new 4000 seat theater in the MGM section of the new casino now under construction. And just maybe those same unseen forces that brought so much competitive action to the ring at the Fox Theater will work their magic again in Foxwoods new venue. At least this fight fan hopes so.