Former unified heavyweight world titleholder Andy Ruiz Jr. returns to the ring for the first time since losing his three belts back to Anthony Joshua in their rematch in December 2019, as he faces former title challenger Chris Arreola in the main event of Saturday’s PPV card at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Ruiz (33-2, 22 KOs), 31, of Imperial, California, who was 283½ pounds for that Joshua rematch, was in much better shape on Friday’s weigh in, weighing 256 pounds.
“I was at 310 pounds when I started this camp,” Ruiz said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We started losing weight slowly but surely. People are wondering if I’m still going to have the same power after losing weight, but I’ve been working hard for this moment and the power is definitely staying with me.
“I believe I have the fastest hands at heavyweight. I’m not where I want to be at right now, but I’m a lot better than where I was.
Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs), 40, of Los Angeles, hasn’t fought since a decision loss to Adam Kownacki in August 2019. He has fought three times for the WBC world title, coming short on all three attempts — against Vitali Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder.
“Ruiz and Adam Kownacki are very different fighters,” said Arreola. “With Adam, we just slugged it out. With Andy, I have to be aware at all times. He has some of the fastest hands in the division. I have to make sure I move my head, because this is going to be a great fight.
In the co-main event, Omar Figueroa Jr. (28-1-1, 19 KOs), 31, of Weslaco, Texas, faces Abel Ramos (26-4-2, 20 KOs), 29, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in a 12-round WBA welterweight title eliminator.
Stay here for live undercard results and analysis.
Fight in progress: Omar Figueroa Jr. vs. Abel Ramos, 12 rounds, welterweights
Fundora stops Cota in Round 4 to stay unbeaten
Sebastian Fundora, the tallest super welterweight contender in boxing, didn’t use a single inch of his height advantage against Jorge Cota on Saturday, and it didn’t matter whatsoever. Fundora (17-0-1, 12 KOs), who is 6-foot-6 and known as “The Towering Inferno,” elected to fight Cota (30-5, 27 KOs), who is 5-foot-11 in a phone booth. It wasn’t an obvious strategy for Fundora given his obvious advantages, but it was an effective one. He wore Cota down, beat him with uppercuts and short punches and earned a TKO at 2:35 of the fourth.
The timing of the stoppage was a bit controversial, as Cota, who was never knocked down in the fight, actually landed a hard left hook just as the referee waved it off. That one punch wasn’t enough to keep the fight going, however, as Fundora had turned Cota into an easy target at that point, off-balance along the ropes. The California crowd loved the action while it lasted, and booed the stoppage.
Cota, 33, of Sinaloa, Mexico, briefly contested the referee’s call, but was visibly hurt after the fight was called. Fundora, 23, of Coachella, California opens up his 2021 with a stoppage win, after going 3-0 in 2020.
“It was a good trading fight. We were hitting each other, but my punches were doing more damage and that’s why the referee stepped in,” said Fundora after the fight. “I think he could have been stopped earlier in the round. I just kept fighting until the end.
“My message to the rest of the division is that we’re here. If you’re ready for war, we’re ready to take it. Bring it on.”
Ramos takes step forward with dominant decision win
Jesus Ramos wants to win a world title before his 21st birthday next March — and he took another potential step towards that goal on Saturday. Ramos (16-0, 14 KOs), of Casa Grande, Arizona, defeated former Olympian Javier Molina (22-4, 9 KOs), 31, of Norwalk, California, in a 10-round decision, in which Ramos was in command the entire way.
Scorecards reflected the lopsided welterweight action, as Ramos won via scores of 99-90, 99-90 and 97-92. While Molina clearly lost on the cards, he challenged the 20-year-old Ramos in ways he never had been previously. Ramos fought past the sixth round for the first time in his pro career, and was forced to make adjustments as the fight progressed. But Ramos’ size, length and physicality made for a daunting task for Molina, and he fought cautious and slightly timid early. Ramos stalked Molina around the ring from the very opening bell, and that continued throughout all 10 rounds.
Molina mostly gave ground during the first half of the fight, before coming back at Ramos with forward movement and combinations. By then, however, Molina was too far behind and his power never seemed to both Ramos at all. The matchup turned very physical in the seventh, as Ramos pushed and bullied Molina into the ropes. Molina was actually docked a point later in the round for throwing a punch to the back of the head, which Ramos also received a warning for.
“I might have been looking for a knockout too much in the early rounds,” said Ramos in his post-fight interview. “I got used to it and I settled down and I felt like I was breaking him down little by little. He was trying to survive a little bit, so it made it harder to get the knockout.
“I learned a lot today. I’m going to keep building on that. I feel like I have a lot of momentum. It was a big step up for me and I feel like I showed a lot. I showed I have good conditioning and good movement along with my power.
Overall, it was a promising step for Ramos, who is already 2-0 in 2021. Molina suffers back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career.
Lara wins middleweight title with must-see KO over Lamanna
The question of whether New Jersey’s Thomas Lamanna could hang with Erislandy Lara did not take long to answer.
Lara (28-3, 16 KOs), 38, of Cuba, obliterated Lamanna with a straight left hand just 80 seconds into their WBA “regular” middleweight title fight.
Lara has competed at a world class level for years but is not known for one-punch power. You wouldn’t have known that from this result, however, as it was as clean of a knockout he’s ever had in his career.
Lamanna (30-5-1, 12 KOs), 29, of Millville, New Jersey was seeking his first major title in the bout. Although the fight didn’t even last a single round, it was apparent early on he was not on Lara’s level. Prior to the highlight knockout, Lara landed the straight left to the body and head of Lamanna, before coming over the top with the walk-off shot.
“I felt strong and sharp tonight at middleweight, but I still want all of the big fights at 154-pounds too,” Lara said after the fight. “I want the winner of the Jermell Charlo-Brian Carlos Castano unification fight. Jermall Charlo [the WBC middleweight titlist] is like family; we worked in the same gym for years. But this is a sport, and I’d welcome the challenge.
“I feel great, physically. I’m going to keep doing this until my body tells me I can’t do it anymore. I don’t feel like I’ve taken a lot of punishment in my career, and I know I have at least another three years of my prime left.”
A former junior lightweight champion, Lara becomes a two-weight champion with the victory.
Ramirez wins interim title with KO victory over Avelar
Eduardo Ramirez knocked out Isaac Avelar with a blistering right hook at 1:16 of the third round, winning the WBA interim featherweight title. It marks the third knockout in a row for the surging, 28-year-old Ramirez.
Ramirez (25-2-3, 12 KOs), 28, of Sinaloa, Mexico, who is now 5-1 since unsuccessfully challenging Lee Selby for the IBF featherweight title in 2017, knocked Avelar down with a right hook less than one minute into the third round. Avelar managed to continue but not for long, as he was still visibly hurt from the shot. Ramirez rocked him with another right hook against the ropes, and the fight was stopped.
It was a devastating finish to what had been a competitive fight to that point. Ramirez hurt Avelar with the right hook late in the opening round, as well, but that didn’t stop Avelar from looking to apply pressure throughout the bout. Ramirez’s speedy right hook and jab, however, were the two best weapons of the night.
“You have to have a stone-cold mindset, and that’s what we had to finish Avelar off,” Ramirez said. “We were able to connect the right combinations to finish the fight off exactly how we wanted.
“This was a perfect coronation. To be honest, I would now like to have the chance to fight against Leo Santa Cruz. I previously fought against Miguel Flores, who barely lasted four to five rounds against me, but Leo couldn’t knock him out. This convincing knockout should be my ticket to have that opportunity.”
Ramirez only fought once in 2020, but he recorded a knockout over Flores in that appearance.
Avelar (17-3, 10 KOs), 23, of Aguascalientes, Mexico, has now lost three of his past four and been knocked out in two of those fights.
Molina outpoints Marquez for decision win
Lightweight prospect Fernando Angel Molina took advantage of an opportunity to fight on network television by defeating Prisco Marquez by unanimous decision in a six-round bout.
Molina (6-0, 3 KOs), an 18-year-old talent out of Jalisco, Mexico, was paired with Marquez (4-3-1, 1 KO), 27, of Austin, Texas, in the evening’s swing bout, which ended up taking airing on Fox ahead of the pay-per-view, due to a couple of quick finishes on the undercard. Molina was more or less in control the entire fight, and he cruised to three unanimous 60-53 scores from the judges.
According to CompuBox, Molina landed more than 100 punches in the bout, more than doubling Marquez’s total. Molina, who enjoyed a significant height and reach advantage, showed off his versatility on offense, mixing right uppercuts and body shots into his combinations. He fought well on the outside and pushed Marquez backward in the later rounds.
Marquez showed grit, especially early, as he waded through Molina’s length and leapt into looping haymakers over the top. He caught Molina on several occasions with the left hook, but the home run shot never came. The bout was Marquez’s first appearance since September 2019.
Still to come: