Wednesday, December 07, 2022  |


Leo Santa Cruz stops Jesus Ruiz in the eighth round

Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images


Leo Santa Cruz stopped Jesus Ruiz 29 seconds into the eighth round to retain his WBC junior featherweight title on the Bermane Stiverne-Deontay Wilder card Saturday at the MGM Grand.

Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 knockouts) turned in a workmanlike performance for most of the fight, working Ruiz’s body hard and connecting on good head shots here and there. And Ruiz (33-6-5, 22 KOs) held his own, taking what Santa Cruz dished out and returning in kind in what was an uneventful fight through six rounds.

Then, late in the seventh round, Santa Cruz seemed to have had enough. He became a headhunter, landing a series of quick, hard punches which seemed to catch Ruiz by surprise. A few of the shots appeared to stun the Mexican.

Santa Cruz didn’t waste time in the eighth, attacking Ruiz in the same manner. He apparently hurt Ruiz with a right early in the round and then pounced, firing away to the head until referee Kenny Bayless saved him from more punishment by stopping the fight.

Santa Cruz was making the fourth defense of the title he won by stopping Victor Terrazas in three rounds in August 2013.

Ruiz had never fought for a world title. He was unbeaten in his previous seven fights.

In other fights on the Stiverne-Wilder card, junior welterweight prospect Amir Imam (16-0, 14 KOs) stopped Fidel Maldonado Jr. (19-3, 16 KOs) at 2:59 of the fifth round of a scheduled 10-round fight. Imam put Maldonado down four times, hurting him each time. Imam also went down once.

And light heavyweight prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (12-0, 10 KOs) of Ukraine stopped Garrett Wilson (13-9-1, 7 KOs) of Philadelphia at the end of the ninth round of a scheduled 10-round bout.