Orlando Cruz made good Friday night on his aspiration of being No. 1 in line for Mikey Garcia's WBO featherweight championship.
The WBO Latino champion retained his regional title and reinforced his No. 1 ranking in the 126-pound division after scoring a TKO at 1:19 of the sixth round against Mexican Aalan Martinez in Kissimmee, Fla. The win put Cruz in a position to face Garcia, even though Top Rank -- which also promotes him -- revealed this week its intention of having former champion Juan Manuel Lopez face Garcia.
But his easy TKO victory could make the company change its plans.
"I'm ready for the championship," Cruz said after the fight. "My mind is now in challenging for the WBO belt. I'm thirsty for glory now."
Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs) was fast and moved well in the ring from the opening bell. His combination in the fifth round briefly dropped Martinez. But Cruz was called for a low blow that gave the Mexican a few minutes to catch his breath.
Cruz kept up the pressure in the next round and hurt Martinez with a powerful right hand, and the referee ended the fight.
"I think this is the result of hard work in which every member of my team contributed, Now we know that what's coming up is harder and we need to work and correct (things)," said Cruz.
Not everything was great for Cruz, as he had some problems making weight on Thursday, stopping the scale at 126.4 pounds on his first try.
"These things happen and they don't repeat themselves every time," Cruz said. "It happens to great champions. That's something we will work on and doesn't mean I can't make weight."
Martinez, who had been described by Top Rank VP Carl Moretti as a difficult fighter for Cruz, suffered his second loss in 17 fights, with one draw.