The lightweight division keeps the ball rolling. Over this past weekend we saw Robert Easter, JR, 19-0, 14 KO’s, notch his 19th straight victory and first defense of this International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight championship. One thing is for certain, he will be a handful for anyone he faces moving forward. Easter, JR. had a pretty extensive amateur career having fought over 200 fights. There is nothing that can duplicate that type of experience no matter how you slice it.
Easter, JR. defeated Puerto Rican fighter Luis Cruz, 22-5-1, 16 KO’s, and showed a multitude of skill in doing so. Cruz was without a game fighter having gotten up from multiple knockdowns across multiple rounds, but ultimately Easter, JR. proved too much for him. One thing that was apparent is the fact that Easter, JR. has one of the best jabs in boxing. His size, nearly 6ft tall, allows for him to gain leverage and added pop to the jab. He routinely landed the jab on Cruz and at times seemingly rocked him with the jab. A jab of that magnitude can’t be purchased. You have to want to include it in your arsenal. Many in boxing will tell you that it’s the jab that opens everything up.
Easter, JR. was able to put together combinations that left Cruz with no answer. He even spent several points of time in the later rounds seemingly joking around during the fight, sticking out his tongue and shouting at the commentators. This pretty much showed the level of comfort that Easter, JR. has in the ring. He’ll definitely have to do less and less of that as his competition level continues to increase though he seems like the type who can stay poised for the major moments. Additionally, Easter seems to have the right personality for handling the fanfare as it increases as well.
Hailing from Toledo, Ohio, fans seemed to show up in droves and provided a great deal of support for Easter, JR. The moment his name was announced the crowd provided a standing ovation. Toledo isn’t exactly a hotbed for boxing so it was good to see a native host a fight there and it showed that if you build it, they will come. The atmosphere seemed similar to that of Omaha, Nebraska, when Terence Crawford fights. It’s most certainly good to be in that company from a fan perspective, and if he continues his run, he’ll be there from a fight perspective as well.
There is much potential for Easter, JR. and in boxing if you handle things the proper way then it can take you to the top of sport in similar fashion to the greats that have come before. It all starts with boxing. For that matter, Easter, JR. has the boxing part down. He’ll be able to prove such as we move forward. There is plenty of competition at 135 pounds. We know he can bring out the fans in his home state. It’s now time for the rest of the nation to take notice. 2017 is shaping of to be one of the best years in boxing in a while. Let the pendulum swing.Contact the Feature Writers