Thursday, September 21, 2023  |


Leo Ruiz defeats Raul Garcia in hard-fought split decision in Florida

Leo Ruiz (left) moves in on Raul Garcia - Photo courtesy of ProBoxTV
Fighters Network

Statement made.

Leo Ruiz not only stepped up against and defeated an unbeaten prospect, but showed why he is someone to keep an eye on at 154 pounds.

Ruiz defeated Raul Garcia by split-decision Wednesday night at the Whitesands (also known as the ProBox TV) Events Center in Plant City, Florida. One judge scored the bout 95-94 for Garcia, while the other two judges scored the bout 96-93 and 98-91 for Ruiz, who improved to 13-0, 8 knockouts.

After an even opening round, Ruiz began asserting himself, landing the more-effective punches. Ruiz repeatedly landed counter and lead right crosses to Garcia’s head. Garcia attempted to initiate exchanges, but left himself vulnerable and open to being countered by Ruiz.

With less than a minute left in the fifth round, Ruiz landed a left hook to the head that staggered Garcia. Ruiz followed up, battering Garcia until Garcia dropped to the canvas. Garcia beat the count and was able to get through the round.

Garcia never made any significant adjustments during the fight. Despite trainer Bob Santos imploring him to utilize a jab, Garcia continued to stand and trade with Ruiz, who continued to outbox him, including connecting several left hooks to the body.

Ruiz mixed his attack well during the second half of the fight, utilizing the right amount of range to outbox Garcia. During the eighth round, Ruiz stunned Garcia with an overhand right to the head. Sensing he was down on the scorecards, Garcia was the aggressor, producing solid exchanges between the two, but Ruiz had built enough of a lead and was the clear winner in the fight.

The 24-year-old Ruiz, who is trained by Robert Garcia, was originally scheduled to fight on a club show this past Saturday in his hometown of San Bernardino, California. In his previous fight on April 15, Ruiz knocked out Esau Herrera de la Cruz in the fifth round. On January 28, Ruiz defeated gatekeeper Cameron Krael by unanimous decision.

Garcia, who resides in the Dominican Republic, falls to 13-1-1, 11 KOs. The 24-year-old Garcia appeared on a ShoBox card on April 7, fighting to a split decision draw against Robert Terry.

In the co-feature, lightweight Justin Pauldo defeated Eduardo Estela by unanimous decision.

Scores were 98-91, 97-92, and 95-94 for Pauldo, who improved to 16-1 1 NC, 7 KOs.

Both had their moments during the first four rounds of the fight. Estela walked Pauldo down, finding success with overhand right hands to the head and left hooks to the body. Pauldo was effective countering, throwing and landing his own share of right hands to the head, and left hooks to the body.

By the fifth round, Pauldo dictated and controlled the action in the fight. Pauldo was effective, landing two straight jabs, followed by a straight right hand to the head.

Pauldo was deducted a point late in round seven by referee Michael DeJesus for shoving Estela down to the canvas. As the action continued, Estela looked gassed, breathing heavily and fighting in spurts. Although Estela was game, Pauldo displayed his pedigree, showing he is a top prospect at 135 pounds.

The 28-year-old Pauldo, who is originally from nearby Orlando, recently signed a promotional deal with ProBox TV and is managed by Jolene Mizzone.

Estela, who resides in Montevideo, Uruguay, falls to 14-3, 9 KOs. The 33-year-old was stopped by fringe contender Angel Fierro in his previous fight on March 4.

Fringe junior middleweight contender Johan Gonzalez dropped gatekeeper Ricardo Villalba twice en route to a fifth round knockout win. Gonzalez, who is originally from Guigue, Venezuela and now resides in Panama City, Panama, improved to 33-2, 33 KOs.

Gonzalez broke Villalba down in each passing round. During the opening minute of the fifth round, Gonzalez landed two straight right hands to the head, dropping Villalba to the canvas. Villalba beat the count, but was dropped again by another right hand to the head. Referee Frank Santore, Jr. waved the fight off at 1:57.

Villalba falls to 20-10-1, 8 KOs. He has now lost his last six fights, including defeats to Micky Scala, Eumir Felix Marcial and Eric Priest.

Lightweight Mandeep Jangra of India improved to 6-0, 4 KOs, stopping Markus Bowes (2-2, 2 KOs) of Roxboro, North Carolina in the fourth round.


Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]