If you followed boxing in the 1990s then you remember Rafael and Gabriel Ruelas, the Mexican-born brothers who held world titles simultaneously in different weight divisions.
The fighting Ruelas brothers were a tandem of terror in the ring.
Former world champion Rico Ramos (20-1, 11 KOs) fights Efrain Esquivias (16-0, 9 KOs) in a junior featherweight showdown and the Ruelas brothers will be honored on Saturday, June 23. It all takes place at Sportsmans Lodge in Studio City. Telefutura will televise the fights.
Ruelas talked about receiving the boxing award and about being away from boxing for so long. The former IBF lightweight titleholder was a determined pressure fighter whose grit and power helped him storm through some powerful opponents.
“It’s been a long time since I fought,” said Ruelas. “It’s an honor to receive anything in boxing.”
The classy Ruelas brothers brought a lot of happiness to fight fans in the San Fernando Valley where they were trained by Joe Goossen to world championships. On Saturday, fans get to return the favor at Sportsmans Lodge.
One thing different today than during Ruelas’s time in the ring: “They’re making a lot more money,” he said with a chuckle. “It was not easy.”
Perhaps his most significant fight took place in 1995 against Oscar De La Hoya. He lost by knockout but it was still a big moment for boxing.
“It was a difficult loss to take,” said Ruelas. “Oscar was a very good fighter. He prepared perfectly for me.”
Ruelas has three children and lives in Woodland Hills. His career and his brother Gabriel’s were a few of the reasons why boxing in Southern California has reached epidemic proportions. When they fought there were probably not more than two dozen gyms in the greater Los Angeles area. That’s all changed. There are probably 10 times as many gyms in L.A. County alone.
“It’s a great honor to be remembered,” Ruelas said.
Ramo vs. Esquivias
Former junior featherweight titleholder Ramos remembers fighting Efrain Esquivias several times as an amateur but has not seen the Carson-based prizefighter as a pro.
“We only fought in amateurs. We fought, I’m thinking in Indio (Desert Showdown) and the Blue and Gold tournaments. He’s a very powerful, strong kid and fast and keeps coming,” said Ramos, 25.
Ramos tore through the professional competition including a knockout win over Japan’s Akifumi Shimoda to win the WBA junior featherweight world title back in July 2011. Then, in his first world title defense, he met Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux in January of this year and was deposed.
“To be honest I was physically ready but not mentally ready. So I think that took a toll and a lot of things happened. But I was in shape and ready,” said Ramos, who was stopped in the sixth round by the Cuban southpaw. “I had some bad habits we worked on in this training camp. I got caught and that was it.”
Esquivias is a skilled pressure style fighter who constantly moves forward with endless combinations until he breaks his opponent. He’s undefeated and poised for a world title opportunity should he defeat Ramos.
“I feel confident going up against Rico Ramos. We fought three times as amateurs and each of us won one fight convincingly but the third fight, which he won, was controversial. I believe I won that one and so did the spectators in attendance. There is a history between us but in the pros it bears no relevance because that was the amateurs,” said Esquivias, 28, “As professionals we have sparred against one another and things have changed. I believe that I am a whole different type of boxer now, on the other hand, Rico has not changed his style.”
Ramos has held the world title and Esquivias wants that opportunity.
“I know Rico very well, I know what he does right and wrong. I will take my chances and go out with a good game plan and try to capitalize on his mistakes. Remember, I'm facing a former world champion and he has changed for the better so it won't be an easy task,” Esquivias said.
Ramos is confident of victory.
“For this fight I’m going to show everybody I’m a totally different person. I’m much stronger, faster and ready and anxious,” Ramos promises. “A couple of more fights and I’ll go back for the title if its possible.”
West Covina’s John Molina (23-1, 19 KOs) has agreed to fight WBC lightweight titleholder Antonio De Marco of Mexico in September. First, he must defeat another Mexican slugger Miguel Munguia (25-23-1, 22 KOs). Molina and Munguia are set for 10 rounds in the semi-main event at Sportsmans Lodge.
For ticket information (818) 817-8001.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?