Sunday, February 05, 2023  |



Leo Santa Cruz on Jesus Ruiz: ‘One punch can change a fight’


Leo Santa Cruz is well aware that “any fighter is dangerous” and that “one punch can change a fight” entering Saturday’s defense of his WBC junior featherweight title against Jesus Ruiz. The bout will support a heavyweight showdown between WBC titleholder Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“I am always prepared going into every fight. I never underestimate any fighter because those are the ones that can hurt you,” said Santa Cruz during Tuesday’s arrival at the MGM for the Showtime-televised bout.

“When you give them the opportunity, they come prepared and hungry because they want to take the title away from you. Any fighter is dangerous in the ring; one punch could change a fight. Ruiz is a good fighter. I trained really hard for this fight as I always do. I am mentally and physically strong and I’ve been working much more on my power heading into this fight.”

Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 2-ranked 122-pounder, last fought in September when he blew out overmatched Manuel Roman in two rounds on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana rematch. The 26-year-old Southern Californian only fought twice in 2014.

A 25-year-old Mexican, Ruiz (33-5-5, 22 KOs) is 5-0-1 with one knockout since falling by unanimous decision to Christian Esquivel in April 2012 and is coming off last month’s unanimous decision over Leonilo Miranda.

“I am very excited to be here. I promise you; come Saturday, you will have a new world champion. I am motivated and looking forward to this fight. It’s an honor for me to be here and I am grateful for the opportunity. [Santa Cruz is] a fighter that we’re well aware of,” said Ruiz.

“I know his style and the way he fights but we’re ready and prepared to win. He is an explosive fighter and so am I. I don’t think either fighter has an advantage over the other. I think you’re going to see two strong Mexican fighters going at it. It’s going to be an exciting fight.”

Also on the card will be junior welterweight prospect of Albany, N.Y., against southpaw Fidel Maldonado Jr., a winner of six straight fights, including the past five by knockout.

In his last fight on Dec. 13, Imam, 24, registered a sixth round knockout against Santos Benavides. The last win for Maldonado, 23, was by eighth round technical knockout over Nelson Lara in September.

“I’m really excited to be on the undercard of a big American heavyweight title fight. I’m coming here to take care of business and get out of there. I’m coming here to do what I do best,” said Imam.

“Boxing is what I do and we’re ready. All that matters is that I get the victory but I definitely want to win impressively. I have big things lined up for 2015 but I need to first take care of business on Saturday.”