Just 29 years old, and with only eight pro fights under his belt, World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Brian Bowles is still relatively inexperienced in the sport of mixed martial arts. His title fight on March 6 against top contender Dominick Cruz at WEC 47 in Columbus, Ohio, will showcase two of the best young talents the sport has to offer.

Bowles won his title in August by defeating Miguel Angel Torres, a man with more than four times as many pro fights. Bowles' heavy right hand finished a fighter who was on a 17-fight win streak and who had never been finished in his career.

He heard the murmurs that his knockout of Torres was “lucky,” and when asked about it during the media conference call last week, Bowles was emphatic in his thoughts.

“I don’t exactly know what a lucky punch is,” he said. “You’re out there fighting and throwing punches and trying to hit him. I don’t know how that’s lucky.”

The finish earned him knockout of the night, a nice bonus to add to the two submission of the night awards he picked up. Bowles suffered a broken hand in his fight with Torres, something that affected his training regimen in the early part of his camp.

“A lot of my time was just trying to do what I could to keep my cardio up and keep my hand healthy,” he said. “So there was not a lot of time to just focus on getting better like I would have liked to.”

The 24-year old Cruz also made mention of his cardio, and was confident in his abilities to win the fight any number of ways.

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“I feel like in every fight that I go into, I have an edge in cardio because that’s just one of the things that I really focus on,” he said. “I just make sure that I’m in the type of shape that even if the guy's in the best shape of his life, he’s not going to be in better shape than me.”

Cruz has won five fights in a row, including four at 135 pounds. His only professional loss was against then featherweight champ Urijah Faber in Cruz’s first WEC bout.

“I go into every fight with the mentality to finish my opponent,” Cruz said. “I know for a fact I’ve got power in my hands, and I know I’ve got a lot of skills that I can finish fights with.”

Although Cruz’s recent track record of unanimous decision victories in his last four fights leads one to believe both fighters' wrestling skills will be tested, Bowles hopes to end the fight early.

“You know he’s a boxer just like me,” he said. “You know we’re going to stand in there and slug it out.”

@NewsdaySports