Hard-hitting Mexican warriors Julio Ceja (30-1, 27 KOs) and Hugo Ruiz (35-3, 31 KOs) engaged in a memorable back-and-forth battle for the WBC 122-pound world title last August and they are eager to meet in the ring again to deliver another explosive fight. The eagerly awaited return bout is part of a tripleheader on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Headlining the event is undefeated featherweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz in his first title defense against former champ Kiko Martinez. Rounding out the televised tripleheader is a 10-round fight between undefeated heavyweights Gerald Washington and Oscar Rivas.
Ceja recovered from a third-round knockdown to claim world title glory with a fifth-round stoppage of Ruiz, and he has promised once again to leave the fans thrilled.
“One thing I can tell you, is that this fight will be as exciting as the first one,” said Ceja. “You don’t want to miss it. War is coming.”
When Ceja and Ruiz clashed in Los Angeles last August, it was the U.S. debut for both and was also on a card headlined by Santa Cruz.
“I knew it was a big step up in my career to get a fight in the U.S.,” said Ruiz, “It was very emotional to be fighting in front of so many Mexican fans on such an important card.”
In an excellent two-way matchup contested in the middle of the ring, Ceja and Ruiz combined to throw 373 power punches in just five rounds, with Ceja benefiting from a 96-67 advantage in power punches landed. It was the sharp-shooting Ruiz who struck the first big blow of the match, however, as he caught a lunging Ceja with a perfect left hook that put him down with just under a minute left in the third round.
“He definitely hurt me with that punch,” said Ceja. “I went straight into his hand and to the floor. But thanks to my great conditioning, I recovered fast. I train in the altitude in Mexico, and that gives me the strength to fight 15 rounds. I’m working just as hard this camp.”
“I feel like I have the advantage in speed and power,” said Ruiz. “I was looking for the knockout from the beginning, and I will do that again on February 27.”
Showing little effect from the knockdown, Ceja made it through the third and had a solid fourth round against the lanky Ruiz. He began to work effectively inside the long reach of Ruiz and buzz him with left hooks and uppercuts. It was a perfectly timed left hook with 58 seconds remaining in the fifth round that put Ruiz down. Ruiz made it to his feet, but Ceja continued to batter him with both hands until the referee, Raul Caiz Sr., stepped in and stopped the fight at 2:34 into the round.
“Ceja came into the fight very aggressively, and he put just the right amount of pressure on me,” said Ruiz. “This defeat is behind me now, but I did gain experience from the defeat that I will take into this fight.”
Both men know that there is plenty of work to be done in training camp.
“There is no way to get into a comfort zone against Ruiz,” said Ceja. “Just because I beat him, it doesn’t make this fight easier. He’s smart, experienced and he won’t make the same mistakes again. He’s a guy who works distances perfectly and knows when to attack. We made mistakes in the first fight that we’re going to fix.”
“I’m working on my defense and on putting more pressure on him throughout this fight,” said Ruiz. “I have to be aware of his left hand. The hook hurt me last time, so I have been working on getting my right hand up to block it. I have to use my skills to be victorious.”
With a world title on the line once again, expect similar fireworks when these two proud Mexican sluggers share the ring in Anaheim.
“I want all my Mexican fans to come out and watch this fight, you will not regret it,” said Ceja. “I want to keep my belt for a long time, and I want the fans to remember my name.”
“This is going to be another very explosive fight,” said Ruiz. “Expect a lot of punches, but this time, I will be walking out a world champion.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are priced at $27, $54, $104 and $199 and are on sale now via ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster retail locations or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the Honda Center Box Office.
For more information visit www.SHO.com/Sports follow on Twitter @SHOSports, @LeoSantaCruz2, @MartinezKiko, @TGBPromotions, @HondaCenter and @Swanson_Comm or become a fan on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SHOSports.Santa Cruz vs. Martinez is sponsored by Corona Extra, La Cerveza Mas Fina.