Leonardo Ruiz stayed undefeated and picked up an impressive win over fellow 24 year old prospect Raul Garcia in a lively ProBox main event from Plant City, Florida.
The first half was tight and tough to score, with Garcia (13-1-1, 11 KO) maybe doing a little bit more. The only absolutely clear thing early was that the referee would not accept any low punches from either man, intentional or otherwise, with at least five warnings issued during the fight, and at least three of those coming with explicit threats of a potential point deduction.
No one ever lost a point for ungentlemanly speedbagging, despite all the threats. Garcia did lose one late in the 5th round, though, getting knocked down on a hard counter when he charged in a little too aggressively and Ruiz (13-0, 8 KO) clipped him while doing a matador dodge.
The knockdown was a major before-and-after moment for Garcia, who got up a little wobbly and needed a few rounds to steady up and recover his visibly reduced speed and defense. He never did get all the way back to his early form, but a fantastic rally in the final round was enough for Garcia to claim at least one judge’s card in a split decision win for Ruiz.
Official scores were 95-94 for Garcia, overruled by 96-93 and 98-91 cards for Ruiz. Bad Left Hook had it unofficially 97-92 for Ruiz, though I can see how you could reasonably find 5 rounds for Garcia if you gave him all of the first four and the 10th. Not sure where that 6th round came from, though.
Solid work overall from both men, as Ruiz claimed a victory that could help move him up the ladder a bit at 154 pounds, while Garcia hung on through adversity and showed a lot of heart fighting hard through the final bell.
No highlights on social media, but here’s a timestamped YouTube link that should take straight to the knockdown sequence in the 5th round:
Justin Pauldo UD-10 Eduardo Estela
Excellent action fight in the co-feature, where Justin Pauldo was consistently a tick faster and stayed fresher than Eduardo Estela. Fast hands from both, but Pauldo (16-1, 7 KO) had the faster, snapping jab, and he used that hand speed to pepper Estela (14-3, 9 KO) with jabs and counters. That contact seemed to start catching up with Estela in the 5th, as he slowed a bit and Pauldo took greater control of space and distance.
Things got a little rough in the 7th, when Pauldo lost a point for pushing Estrela down on a very questionable call in an otherwise fantastic round of action. That gave Estrela a little emotional boost, and stepped up the action in the 8th and beginning of the 9th round. But Pauldo looked sharper and fresher late, even though this was his first 10 round fight. Estrela ended up looking like he’d lost a fight with cuts around both eyes, a stark contrast with the clean and bouncy Pauldo, who only looked like someone that had finished a light jogging session.
At least one judge really liked Estela’s aggressive, leading style, delivering a close 95-94 card in favor of Pauldo. But, the other two had a better view of how Pauldo largely protected and avoided the Estela attacks, and turned in much wider 97-92 and 98-91 cards to give Pauldo the unanimous decision victory.
Johan Gonzalez TKO-5 Ricardo Ruben Villalba
Johan Gonzalez isn’t the sort of fighter to waste time, coming into this fight with 32 knockouts in his 32 victories, 18 of them in the opening round. Ricardo Ruben Villalba hung tougher than most, taking a lot of shots and getting up from a knockdown, but never did much more than that.
Gonzalez (33-2, 33 KO) did good work behind a punishing jab, and Villalba (20-10-1, 8 KO) consistently ate it. He started out hot in the 5th round before Gonzalez scored a body punch knockdown. Villalba got up and hung in for a little while longer, but hit the canvas again after a big right hand to the head followed by another body shot that was enough to earn a referee stoppage.