An hour prior to the doors opening to the public, Bernard Hopkins made his way from his suite at the Del Sol Resort into the Del Sol Conference Center to begin prefight preparations for ESPN. The day before, he had been spotted running his miles down Valencia along with Sugar Ray Leonard. We weren’t able to confirm Leonard was with him, however, Hopkins always made time for fight fans and made himself approachable.
While making his way to the ESPN press table, he stopped and shook hands with Casino Del Sol event staff still putting the final touches on the venue before the bright lights came on. No entourage. No security escorts. He was simply a legendary, former world champion with a hall of fame career on his resume, on his way to work. That’s all. Hopkins greeted the ESPN crew, came to the press section and shook hands as if he was greeting lifelong friends. If he didn’t have on a tailored designer suit, B-Hop could have walked in with a lunch pail.
Once the bright ESPN lights came on and he was mic’d, Hopkins became all about his business. He simply tuned out the throngs of fans desparately trying to distract him and get is attention. During breaks, he shook plenty of hands. Took plenty of selfies. Posed for plenty of pictures.
Main Event – announced as as a sell out – being shown worldwide on ESPN
Diego de la Hoya 18-0 (9 KOs) Mexicali, MEX vs Erik Ruiz 16-7-1 (6 KOs) Oxnard, CA
A few weeks back we quoted Erik Ruiz and his trainer Robert Garcia saying that, while Ruiz is a good enough fighter to be signed to a premier promotion company like Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank Promotions and the like, one of the issues Ruiz himself admitted in a YouTube interview with Eli Sekback was that he simply couldn’t say no to short notice fights. Garcia vouched for Ruiz’s workout regimine and conditioning, saying that Ruiz stays in shape, has the best work ethic among his stable of fighters and never fails to show up daily to the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy Gym in Oxnard, California. Taking on fights on a week notice in some cases has, in their eyes, led to a few blemishes on Ruiz’s record. When we published a preview for last night’s action a few weeks back, we said, that excuse wouldn’t be able to stand this time around. With weeks and months to prepare for Diego De la Hoya, Ruiz seemingly had all he needed to make an impressive showing at Casino Del Sol last night.
After the final bell rang on a card that Ruiz and De la Hoya headlined and was televised worldwide on ESPN, we’re still waiting for that impressive showing from Ruiz.
Perhaps it was simply that Diego De la Hoya was simply that much better. Whatever the case may be, De la Hoya certainly looked like lived up to his famous last name.
For every punch Ruiz dealt De la Hoya, it seemed as if he would absorb combinations of at least six or seven punches. De la Hoya was scoring at will all night. So much so that to us in press row, Ruiz looked to simply give up mid way through the fight as he’d simply stand still, drop his gloves to his waist and just accept the fact that a seven or eight punch combination was coming, whether he like it or not. Looking over at Robert Garcia in Ruiz’s corner during those moments, I noticed a lot of head shaking and looks of disappointment. Ruiz simply was not following the instructions his corner was giving him.
Ruiz wasn’t a slouch to start. He started the fight by showing that he did come to fight and did manage to land haymakers and draw reactions from the 1,300 reportedly on hand. Those blows were simply not doing enough damage however. Norm Frauenheim from 15rounds.com and TheRing.com asked De la Hoya specifically about a few impressive looking upper cuts Ruiz managed to land that sent De la Hoya into the ropes. After which, De la Hoya simply smiled, a usual sign that a fighter is hurt. De la Hoya answered Frauenhiem’s question by saying matter of fact, “I’m going to be completely sincere with you, I know boxers give certain canned answers, but in all honestly, when those punches landed and I realized they didn’t hurt, it gave me all the confidence in the world. I knew I had him. After the sixth or seventh round, when he was giving me all he had and I honestly felt nothing, my confidence just kept building.”
Following up with my own question, De la Hoya confirmed what we all saw happening with his dominance and Ruiz crumbling mid way through the fight. De La Hoya landed 219 of 673 punches overall and Ruiz connected with 119 of 514 blows according to CompuBox punch stats.
All Sports Tucson: “It seemed that for every one punch Ruiz landed, you were able to respond with seven, eight punch combinations. Did you feel he simply gave up?”
Diego De la Hoya: “He definitely did. He seemed dejected. Nothing he did was effective. Even when he was landing, those blows simply didn’t hurt me and I felt fine. He couldn’t come in because I was counter punching all I wanted. It all had to do with my training. Thanks to Joel Diaz for my training, which at times was rough. We bickered a bit but he pushed me. The proof is all there. I landed anything I wanted all night with so much ease.”
Decision: 100/90 100/90 99/91 (UD) De la Hoya
D’Mitrius Ballard 17-0 (12 KOs) Temple Hills, MD vs Arian Luna 18-5-1 (11 KOs) Neza, MEX
Vacant USNBC Super Middleweight Title – Sched 10 rounds
Decent action in the first. Both fighters looking to assert themselves. Luna giving the undefeated Ballard all he can handle. Great action in the second. Crowd worked into a frenzy when both fighters came together in the blue corner. Both landing tremendous shots. Luna left himself wide open for a left hook from Ballard that sent him to the canvas. Referee Rocky Burke counted to nine before Luna stood up, but still allowed Luna to continue. To Luna’s credit, he survived the round. Third round. Low blow by Ballard drew boo’s from the crowd. Great action from both against the ropes to end the round. Fourth round. The crowd on hand is clearly backing Luna. Ballard landing plenty of quality shots himself. Luna drawing cheers any time he puts his glove out. Round ends with the crowd losing their collective minds with a shot landing cleanly to Ballard’s nose, sending him to the ropes. Fifth round. Both landing heavy bows. Quality power punching. Haymakers from both drawing great cheers. Both fighters scoring well. Sixth, seventh and eighth. Great action. Too close for me to call. Luna takes the eighth and ninth rounds with the ninth being the closest Ballard has come to being knocked down. Final round. Both looking to end the action. Chants of LUNA LUNA LUNA from the crowd. Luna has definitely taken over.
Decision: 97/92 95/92 95/92 Huge disappointment coming from the crowd as Ballard is announced as the UD winner of the vacant USNBC title.
The Undercards & Notes on the Evening
Sched 6 Round Super Flyweight – Joshua Franco 10-0 (6 KOs), San Antonio vs. Marco Sanchez 9-5-2 (4 KOs), Mexicali, MEX
Franco fighting out of Robert Garcia Boxing Academy with a stunning KO, landing a clean left hook, 40 seconds into the first round
Sched 6 Round Super Lightweight – Jonathan Navarro 10-0 (5 KO’s), East LA vs Ricardo Fernandez 3-5-4, Cuidad Juarez, MEX
Navarro starts out by outclassing Fernandez in the first round landing heavy blows throughout. His world-class training from Robert Garcia is totally evident. More of the same in the second round. Mechanics, footwork, accurate power punching all clearly superior. Fernandez is finding ways to survive in the third. Navarro’s power punching has lost its luster by the end of the third. Going into the fourth, Navarro is looking desperate to end it. Landing a flurry of blows. Sixth round. Give Fernandez all the credit in the world for surviving the entire fight. Navarro is going to have to spend more time in the gym and work on finishing opponents when he has them dazed and hurt. This fight should have been over show many different times.
Decision: 60/54 60/54 60/54 (UD) Navarro
Sched 8 rounds Welterweight – Roberto Manzanarez 31-1 (28 KOs), Phoenix vs Erick Martinez 13-6-1 (7 KOs) Tijuana
Manzanarez with an obvious size advantage. Both fighter seem reluctant to go to work a lot of staring and dancing in the first. Manzanarez landing the first huge flurry with 30 seconds left in the round. Second round. More reluctance to work. Manzanarez the only to land whenever they do clash. The Phoenician the only one capable of exciting the crowd. Third round…ZZZZZZzzzzzzZZZZZ. Both fighters looking to counter punch. Refusing to be the aggressor. The crowd on hand largely talking among themselves. First applause worthy action coming at the end of the round. Fourth round. First aggressiveness from both fighters. Both finally looking to assert themselves. Fifth…Sixth round…back to more of the same. Seventh round.
Decision: 80/72 80/72 80/72 (UD) Manzanarez