Manuel Avila vs Erik Ruiz, Diego De La Hoya vs Ramiro Robles & Luis Maldonado vs Oscar Negrete
BY KID HERSH
FS1 GBP card from Los Angeles on a Thursday night. First up was Luis Maldonado (38-13-1, 29ko's) vs Oscar Negrete (8-0, 3ko's). In the first round Maldonado was showing his age as the younger and more mobile Negrete circled him and picked him off with shots. At the end of the round Maldonado was bleeding from an accidental clash of heads that left him on the bad end of the accident since he is already having trouble finding the mark and blood in his eyes is not going to help him any. Luckily for him his corner was able to stop the blood from flowing but still he is just outgunned here. In the second round he couldn't find the mark and Negrete still was accurate, then in the third round Maldonado was getting beaten up more because Negrete was loading up on his punches to do more damage - and that he was as he drew blood from his opponents nose and at the end of the round hurt him with hard punches, looking to me like he was breaking his man down. The fourth round was more of the same with people talking about stopping the fight because the older, shopworn Maldonado just does not have a chance because he is too slow and now too worn down to even have a punchers chance it seems.
Next up was Diego De La Hoya (9-0, 6ko's) vs Ramiro Robles (12-2-1, 7ko's). In the first round it was all De La Hoya, who beat up on Robles pretty heavily for the entire round, letting Robles come at him and easily unloading shots- sometimes the same one over and over like his straight right hand that couldn't miss, and sometimes punches in bunches like 8 punch combos that Robles had no answer for. At the end of the round Robles looked hurt from the onslaught, leaving us thinking it was going to quick work for the hot prospect. In the second round though these youngsters (only 22 for Robles and 21 for De La Hoya) showed that neither was going to back down tonight as Robles continued coming forward and was still taking punishment while not landing anything of note but De La Hoya did not tee off on him quite as much this round as in the last - although that's entirely normal because no one could up the pace he set in the first round. Robles face was turning red from constant leather and punches touching it (err slamming into it maybe I should say) but he was still looking like he is in physically great shape as he comes forward with energy and shots to throw while still trying to win despite being greatly outgunned thus far and beaten up. In the third round it was more of the same as we saw De La Hoya again land his best power - a beautiful right hand that snapped Robles head back earlyon in the round that had the crowd "oooing" in amazement that Robles is taking this punishment. In the fourth round Robles was actually getting De La Hoya tired from something that boxing fans joke about but I am literally seeing before my eyes: wearing out De La Hoya by letting him punch his face. The target has been so easy for De La Hoya to hit that he has been teeing off at a high rate that he has to sustain because Robles continues coming forward every second of every round. So, De La Hoya looks to me like he is getting tired from hitting Robles! It is also likely that he is using his legs for lots of energy in moving around the ring constantly. It also appears to me that De La Hoya does not like or does not know how to inside fight cause I haven’t seen him allow the fight to come inside halfway through, as he continually punches and moves on Robles - expending a lot of energy while still really sitting down on his punches despite it being obvious that Robles is not going anywhere - as evidenced by taking an insane amount of clean power shots and still coming forward and pressing his man. The fifth round was not a whole lot different other than we finally saw a slightly lessened pace from the fight, likely because we also finally saw some inside fighting allowed by De La Hoya, who maybe finally realizes he is going to gas out unless he slows down. Robles continued to be a very stiff test for De La Hoya as the rounds went on, much like he was for Joseph Diaz in his last fight, another blue chip GBP prospect that Robles went the distance with. De La Hoya did not fade from the high work rate he set and from the constant pressure of Robles going down the stretch, he continued banging home punches through eight rounds, easily taking the decision and looking good in a fight that he no doubt learned from because while he won via shutout on every judges cards he also learned that some guys just are not going to go anywhere even if they are a walking punching bag - so he learned something about pacing himself I bet, as he ended the fight on the inside where he was trying to stay away from for the majority of the fight and looking very worn out. Now of course he threw nearly 100 punches per round but still I would be willing to bet he had a few learning experiences from this fight while looking good. This was one of those rare fights where both fighters looked good while one guy won every round. Maybe Robles is unfortunately being fed as an opponent because he is limited in some areas, but his determination and toughness make him fun to watch and a solid test for other opponents coming up. Makes me wonder if he was to be used differently, or trained properly, how could the youngster could be since he is only 22 years old and his losses are coming against blue chippers and he comes away with their respect and the audiences.
Manuel Avila (16-0, 7ko's) vs Erik Ruiz (13-2, 6ko's) was up for the main event. This is another well matched fight with a couple of youngsters that are sure to go at it as they are both California fighters and nice and young at 23. Ruiz came out in the first round pressing and firing off punches with speed. This looked like it momentarily upset Avila, who took a bit to get going before he adjusted to the speed and pressure but then by the end of the round he was moving around the ring and he was the one showcasing speed and getting off first, blunting Ruiz's quick start. In the second round Avila carried the momentum he had gained in the first round with him, as he looked very intense in the ring and picked his shots and movements/angles very carefully to pick apart his opponent for the majority of it. He was so focused and economical that he reminded me of Andre Ward in there, as he was just blunting Ruiz's work rate because he was the definition of ring general in there. In the third round it was more of the same but then Ruiz showed that he was not completely shut down because despite my Andre Ward comparison Avila is not a p4p fighter (yet, never know) when near the end of the third round Ruiz fired off some shots that hit flush on Avila - like a very nice left hookthat thudded home. It did not damage Avila one bit as he even hit Ruiz with counters when he landed shots. The story was the same in the fourth round, with Ruiz landing a couple of eye catching hard left hooks (seemingly the only punch he can manage to catch Avila with) but otherwise is getting technically shut down by a superior boxer who is not beating him up but is picking him apart and has a defense he can’t crack. Avila was in total control in the fifth round, where I just wanted to scream atRuiz to throw shots because he has fast hands that when he lets them go he catches Avila with. The problem is that he is waiting on Avila, who is picking all the angles and shots he wants . There is no doubt in my mind that Avila is the better boxer all the way around, but why doesn't Ruiz throws shots here is frustrating me because it's not like he is being beaten up here - he is in good shape and still physically fine, he is just mentally and technically being outclassed here. In the sixth round Avila really got aggressive early in the round, looking to perhaps do some damage as he caught Ruiz on the ropes and unloaded blazing fast combinations on him, to which Ruiz just covered up. Avila also backed up Ruiz for the first time in this fight I believe - showing that no matter what he is the ring general and is getting his way tonight. After the early showing of offense Avila went right back to what has been working for him: moving around the ring and technically beating his man via shutting down Ruiz's offense and picking his spots carefully with precision and accuracy with very intense focus. Why he burst out early in the sixth I am not sure - but I suspect it was not a play to see if he could stop his man so much as a mental tactic to say "look what I can do if I choose to". In the seventh round we saw Ruiz come out throwing right hands that unexpectedly landed on Avila numerous times, as Ruiz's world class trainer Robert Garcia was yelling at his man and begging him to press heavy and open like this - obviously his only chance in the fight and it does work to some degree when he throws shots, he doesn't have slow hands! Avila would take the round back over though, with Ruiz's success short lived due to his work rate diminishing despite his success with letting his hands go. It was in the eighth round that Avila started to cock off more, dropping his hands and throwing shots from the hip while looking to entice Ruiz to throw so that he could counter him - which he did. He completely shut down Ruiz in the eighth round and the ninth round as well as he upped his work rate in these later rounds to show total dominance over his opponent. In the tenth round Ruiz landed some shots as he went for it - as is the case for this fight - but he cannot keep a sustained attack going because Avila is super-fast and super accurate, not to mention super intelligent, again out-landing his opponent by technically outboxing him as he puts himself in proper position all the time so that he can hit and get out, while minimizing his risk for damage. I have seen Avila before and quite honestly he does not shine like the other prospects that you usually see on FS1 cards like De La Hoya from tonight or Jo Jo Diaz, but now I see why Avila is getting main billing on a card and I see what he can do. I will make another final Ward comparison in saying that he is easy to overlook like Ward was coming up the ranks and for the same reasons as I see it: he is an efficient capitalizer of mistakes that looks to shut down his opponents offense through footwork and angles and ring IQ while picking his shots for offense strategically as well, to score and to go along with the game plan mentioned earlier of shutting down his opponent and blunting their tools at their disposal. Now I just wonder if Avila can pull off this tough style at a higher level? Thats the real trick, but he is on my radar for sure now that I can see what the guy does. Fun to watch someone so intense when you catch onto what they are doing, the novice boxing eye cannot catch that this wasn't just an outboxing or a points win - Avila was dominant in his shutout win and gave nothing to his opponent while completely shutting him down both mentally and technically in the ring tonight. Great showing of a dominant style that is rare and hard to pull off.