Leo Santa Cruz took on Jesus Ruiz in the semifinal before Wilder-Stiverne at the MGM Grand in Vegas, on Saturday, and on Showtime. Ruiz did better than everyone and their brother expected but his energy lagged some midway through. In round eight, he was caught on the ropes, ate copious shots and the ref halted it. The win for LSC came at 29 seconds elapsed, via TKO.
Jim Gray spoke to LSC after. LSC said it was a war, and he expected Ruiz to perform well. LSC knew he was hurt and went to work. He said he could do more head movement and move forward more. Next? Mares? “I want the best, I want the number ones,” he said. Rigo, Quigg, Frampton, he said, and he will tell his team to pursue it.
LSC went 277-641 to 120-554 for the loser.
The WBC super bantam champ LSC is 26, and was 121.5 (130 FN; ) while Ruiz (age 25; 28-0-1; lives in Cali; ex bantam champ) was 122 (134 FN; from Mexico; 32-5-5 entering).
In the first, LSC popped the jab. Ruiz landed a couple rights to the body. In the second, a right clubber landed by Ruiz. They fought inside, and went into rumble mode. Ruiz had a real nice round. In the third, Ruiz kept on being busy, looked to take it to LSC. LSC, though, got the distance he wanted, and with room to work, he landed. In the fourth, LSC won the round, with crisper shots. In the fifth, they rumbled inside more. Ruiz looked to move, then.
In the sixth, we saw blood on the right eye of the champ. But he was winning rounds, though not as decisively as wiseguys figured coming in. In the seventh, a nasty left hook buzzed Ruiz a bit. Was the underdog breaking down?
In the eighth, Ruiz was eating. Too much, and the ref stopped it. A jab blinded Ruiz and a right buzzed him, and he went back to the ropes, where he wasn’t defending himself too well.