LOS ANGELES-Swilled in gentlemanly conduct Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz was stymied by Luis “King Kong” Ortiz’s manners more than his blows but used his early knockdowns to build a lead and win by close decision on Sunday.
It was a gentleman’s war that saw Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs) show off his power early against Cuba’s Ortiz (33-3, 28 KOs) before an audience of more than 8,000 fans at the Crypto.com Arena on the TGB Promotions card.
Former unified heavyweight world titlist Ruiz displayed the hand speed and power with several knockdowns early in the fight. Since losing the title back to Anthony Joshua, the Southern Californian had only fought once. He was ready for this encounter in a WBC heavyweight elimination fight.
The much taller Ortiz walked into the arena with most of his wins by knockout. Ruiz was aware of that power and used the opening round to feel some of that force. A tentative first round showed very little.
In the second round Ruiz displayed that surprising hand speed and stunned Ortiz with a rocket right through the guard. Then after a pause the roundish Ruiz fired an overhand right and down went Ortiz. It looked to be a finishing blow but Ortiz beat the count and got up. The round continued with both firing blows and Ortiz going down again. The referee counted and Ortiz got up again. If it looked like he was done, but Ortiz reminded Ruiz with a rocket left that he still had power. The round ended.
Ruiz was in control from the third round on and kept the pressure on the taller Cuban veteran. But it was obvious that he had respect for the power. Both fighters began touching gloves at the beginning of each round.
The Marquess of Queensberry would have been proud.
Ortiz used his craftiness to remain dangerous and it kept Ruiz from overwhelming him with his speed. Though Ruiz absorbed many shots his chin was sturdier than Ortiz, but he did not want to risk getting knocked out.
“He’s a warrior, he hits hard,” said Ruiz.
Ortiz began gaining confidence in the seventh round and moving forward. Ruiz faked a right and then fired a right that dropped Ortiz for the third time in the fight. Again, the Cuban heavyweight got up.
From the eighth round on neither fighter was willing to open up. Both had felt each other’s power and did not want to risk running into a big blow. Throughout the remaining rounds it was a chess match and neither was gambling on a lucky shot.
After 12 rounds all three judges scored in favor of Ruiz 113-112, 114-11 twice.
“Everybody was doubting me,” said Ruiz. “It was very difficult. Me countering him and him waiting to load up.”
Till the end both fighters were respectful toward each other.
“It was a war,” said Ortiz. “Boxing is always a little surprise.”
Former WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder was in the audience. He was also respectful to his former foe Ortiz and to the winner Ruiz.
“It was a great fight, a hell of a fight,” Wilder said. “Much love to him.”
Ruiz and Wilder shook hands. The winner on Sunday night hopes they meet soon.
“I do not want to be waiting so long. I’m ready man,” said Ruiz. “I want to be champion again and bring back the championship to Mexico.”
Mexico City’s Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz (24-2-1, 17 KOs) needed less than two rounds to catch fellow Mexican Eduardo Ramirez (27-3-3, 12 KOs) with one of his big left hooks to end the fight by knockout. The crowd cheered deliriously with Gervonta “Tank” Davis sitting ringside.
Cruz floored a fast-moving Ramirez with a left hook who somehow was able to get up. The fight resumed with Cruz in fast pursuit and Ramirez still dazed. Cruz connected with a left hook and right and down went the southpaw Mexican for good. Referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight at 2:27 of the second round.
Davis watched the end and the crowd booed as his image was shown on the giant screen. The crowd chanted “We want tank.!”
“If the people want another fight with the champion, lets go,” said Cruz who picked up a WBC Continental Americas belt with the win.
Former champion Abner Mares’ return to the prize ring was stymied by Miguel Flores whose youth and energy allowed him to wear down the three-time division world titlist who returned after a four-year absence and fight to a majority draw.
Mares shook off the rust but an action-packed second round seemed to deflate Mares who had not fought since June 2018 when he fought Leo Santa Cruz in the same arena. This time Mares managed a majority draw instead of a loss that he suffered to Santa Cruz.
One judge scored it 96-94 but two others saw it 95-95.
Lefty versus lefty is always dangerous for either fighter as Edwin De Los Santos (15-1, 14 KOs) exchanged knockdowns with Jose “Rayo” Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs) before finally ending the fight by stoppage in the lightweight clash.
Dominican Republic’s De Los Santos hurt Mexico’s Valenzuela early with right hooks, the usual potent weapon against a southpaw. It worked in hurting Valenzuela early in the first round. In the second round De Los Santos hurt Valenzuela again but was caught with a short left and down he went. He got up and connected with a combination that sent Valenzuela down. But he continued punching as his foe was down and was deducted a point for the infraction.
Valenzuela sought to regain the momentum but was caught by a counter left and down he went. The tall lightweight beat the count, but on unsteady legs and was met with a left cross and right hook. Referee Ray Corona stepped in and stopped the fight at 1:08 of the third round. De Los Santos becomes the WBC Continental Americas titlist.
A super welterweight match between undefeated fighters saw Joey Spencer (16-0, 10 KOs) emerge with a unanimous decision after 10 rounds against Mexico’s Kevin Salgado (14-1-1, 9 KOs). Neither fighter offered much offensive display in a lackluster fight that fans booed sporadically.
Though it seemed Salgado was the more aggressive, neither fighter seemed inclined to take a chance. Spencer was especially defensive with his shoulder roll and counter-punching style. Two judges scored it 99-91 and another 100-90.
Very unentertaining fight.
Michigan’s Ra’eese Aleem (20-0, 12 KOs) proved too quick and agile for Philippine’s Mike Plania (26-2, 13 KOs) and walked away with a dominant unanimous decision victory after 10 rounds in a super bantamweight contest.
“The fight was everything that I expected. He’s a very tough fighter and a great competitor. I just wanted to fight a smart fight, because we know he’s dangerous. Although I didn’t feel his power, I know that he can hit. I just wanted to take my time and let everything fall into place,” said Aleem.
Aleem floored Plania in the second round with a quick burst combination that sent Plania reeling back where the ropes held him up. Referee Ray Corona correctly ruled it a knockdown. After that knockdown, Plania never could step on the gas nor figure out the jitterbug style of Aleem.
Though it seemed Aleem was the quicker athlete, he was satisfied with a hit and move style in simply out-pointing the Filipino fighter over 10 rounds. All three judges scored the same 100-89 for Aleem.
Is Aleem ready for champion Stephen Fulton?
“It’s time for ‘scared boy’ Stephen Fulton Jr. to come out of hiding and sign the contract. Let’s get in there so I can give him his first loss. It would be a closer fight than tonight, but I still expect to dominate and get the win,” said Aleem.
Article Credit: TSS