Backed by a partisan crowd, Kaliesha “Wild, Wild” West pummeled her way to victory by unanimous decision over San Antonio’s fierce fighting Christina Ruiz to win the IBFA junior featherweight world title on Saturday. Once again records don’t mean much when it comes to female prizefighting.
Despite only 11 fights on her pro record Ruiz (6-5-1, 4 KOs) stood toe-to-toe with Moreno Valley’s talented West (16-1-3, 4 KOs), who was vacating the WBO bantamweight title to contend for the IFBA title at the 122-pound limit. That extra weight meant a lot to the Californian at the Finish Line Sports Grill on Sugar Shane Mosley Promotions.
“The higher weight made it much easier,” said West, 24. “I felt much stronger.”
She needed all that strength against Ruiz of Texas, who despite a close-to-.500 record, showed power, resilience and some kind of chin to absorb the blows West unleashed in her direction.
“Usually when I hit girls they begin to run. Not her,” said West. “She was like ‘come on’ and stayed with me to trade.”
Speed was a major factor in the fight as West used a pinpoint jab in the first round and caught the aggressive Texan coming in. Even after connecting with bombs it never seemed to bother Ruiz who would fire back with overhand rights.
The second round saw both connect but West was slightly busier and more accurate. For every flush right hand landed by Ruiz, several West counters would return fire.
Ruiz began to time West and her jabs. Not as many punches were fired but each fighter connected.
Round four saw Ruiz immediately open the stanza with one of her overhand right missiles. It landed. Both exchanged blows with West using a jab to keep the Texan from moving in too quickly. Ruiz connected again with a right hand bomb and probably won the round.
The Californian must have felt a need to open fire with both barrels because a sizzling three-punch combination landed flush in round five and then a double left hook snapped Ruiz’s head to the side emphatically. It was West’s best round of the fight.
Round six saw West attack the body with a vengeance. Ruiz complained of a low blow on one of the body shots and the fight was stopped momentarily by referee David Denkin. When the fight resumed West savagely returned to the body.
In round seven West resumed the body attack and one definitely hurt Ruiz. The fight was stopped again by the referee who warned West that another low blow would result in a point reduction. The blow didn’t appear to be low but West did not venture to the body again.
“I was afraid he would take a point away,” she said.
It was a slower round in the eighth as West looked to attack the head. As she probed Ruiz’s guard she was met with some big right hands. West never seemed hurt and it might have been an off round for the Californian.
“I got caught up in fighting her fight,” said West. “But the jab was the difference in the fight for me.”
Behind the jab West opened up with some combinations more aggressively in round nine. Ruiz never stopped battling but could not match the punch output of the speedy Californian. And when West resumed the body attack that left Ruiz more open for shots.
Ruiz never wavered from her game plan to attack West and pressure her into a toe-to-toe affair. For most of the fight it could have been fought in a two-foot square. But West just had more firepower and accuracy. After 10 rounds two judges saw it 100-90 and one judge 99-91 all for West.
“I don’t know how I feel,” said West about winning her second world title and in a different weight class. “I didn’t have time to think about it.”
It was West’s first fight in Californian in over a year. She now fights for Mexican promoter HG Promotions and most of her bouts are held in Mexico.
East L.A.’s Xavier Montelongo (2-0-1) and Highland Park’s Carlos Morales (0-1-1) fought to a split draw after four rounds in a junior lightweight match.
Fresno’s Mike Ruiz (9-2-1) defeated Denver’s Shawn Nichols (6-12) in a very entertaining six round bantamweight fight.
San Bernardino’s Blanca Raymundo (1-7) got her first pro win by decision over L.A.’s Katarina De La Cruz after a four round flyweight bout. All of Raymundo’s previous losses came against talented opposition.
North Hollywood’s Javier Albonica (5-1) stopped Bryan Brooks (0-9) at 1:33 of round two of a junior middleweight fight.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV