Earlier this year, the folks over at Fox Deportes decided to air a pair of bouts from Mexico in the bantamweight division. Francisco Arce, the less talented but still fun to watch brother of Arce, was matched with the generally unknown Hugo Ruiz for the vacant WBA interim bantamweight piece of crap belt. Over the course of 16 rounds, some of the best boxing action of the year was seen.
The first fight was aired on May 14th, and if you recorded it like I did, you found out that the entire first half of the telecast didn't make TV because a Yankees game ran long. But the main event of the night, their first fight, was shown in its entirety. In the early going, it appeared that Ruiz was going to be able to use his superior size to keep Arce off him with his jab. Once we're in round 3, that flys out the window with a single Arce punch that floors Hugo Ruiz and immediately brings the fight to being even. From that point forward, a war develops between the two men, with legal punches being thrown as well as low blows and some mean clinch work. Francisco Arce clearly intended to make this a brawl, and succeeded wildly in his intention. Francisco is still not as good as Jorge, nor has his chin, making him more susceptible to getting knocked down and generally getting hit, and Hugo Ruiz and his mammoth KO ratio (over 80%) made sure to take a toll of his own on Arce, knocking him down twice over the course of the fight. Arce didn't do himself any favors throwing below the belt and getting a point taken in round 10, but he did manage to drop Ruiz once more in the 8th round. Absolute back and forth contest, but ultimately Ruiz did enough to win in the minds of all the judges. I too had him winning the fight with a score of 113-110.
By the time the second fight came around on October 15th of this year, both men had enough time to make adjustments to their game plans and improve what it was they wanted to do in the ring. Arce came in the same fighter, while Ruiz came in with a much improved game plan to stay mobile and not get in that same sort of dirty, brutal war. Arce proved very easy to hit by Ruiz both with the jab and power punch, as he lept in with his shots. With Ruiz not letting him inside so easily and keeping his hands up to prevent a repeat of the 3rd round in the first fight, Arce started to take shots. In round 3, Arce was the man to go down, and he was badly hurt. When the bell rang for the end of the round, Ruiz wrongly took it to mean the fight too was over and began celebrating before being pulled off the turnbuckle by the referee. It mattered little - a damaged Francisco Arce managed little but to waive in Hugo Ruiz and get hit repeatedly, very cleanly. Arce's corner jumped in to save their man and met a ton of resistance in doing so.
Hugo Ruiz now manages to get his name in the busy bantamweight discussion and prove that he's a 12 round fighter. He still has far to go to really justify being a serious contender in the bantamweight ranks given how stacked the competition is there.