Vicente Escobedo secured a summer showdown with Adrien Broner after outboxing Juan Ruiz over ten rounds in their headliner Saturday evening in his hometown of Woodland, CA.
Scores were 100-90 (twice) and 99-91 for Escobedo, who now eyes a July 21 HBO-televised title fight with the unbeaten Broner.
The bout was designed to set up a summer showdown with unbeaten 130 lb. titlist Adrien Broner. Such an opportunity waiting in the wings would have most fighters playing it safe. Escobedo went against the grain and forced a brawl early on as he fought with every intention of ending the night early and moving onward to July21.
To his credit, Ruiz braved the storm and tried as hard as he could to go punch for punch with the 30-year old Escobedo, who was fighting in his hometown for the second straight time. The crowd loved the action, cheering from the opening bell as the two fighters traded punches.
Escobedo won nearly every exchange, but was a bit too brave for his own good in the first half of the bout. Ruiz showed a sturdy chin and offered plenty of return fire. Escobedo caught wind of this after two rounds, beginning to box more in the third.
Ruiz enjoyed his best round of the fight in the fourth. A right hand found its way to the chin of Escobedo, who took the punch well but acted like he was surprised that it landed at all. The local favorite regained momentum midway in the round, scoring to the body as well as his uppercut.
Once it was realized that his opponent wasnt going anywhere, Escobedo reverted to form and began to box more. A rabid crowd early was suddenly subdued, not liking the slower pace but understanding of what the hometown fighter was looking to accomplish.
While Escobdeo returned to boxing, Ruiz had other ideas in mind. The journeyman danced as hard as he could to force his opponent out of his envelope, but to no avail. Escobedo grew comfortable fighting behind the jab and working from the outside, even if meant at times slowing the action to a crawl.
Ruiz never stopped fighting, but was largely ineffective. The Mexican was warned in round nine for low blows, the closest either fighter came to any infractions over the course of the ten-round affair.
Escobedo coasted down the stretch, with the specific instructions of not taking any chances in the final round. The advice came with good reason, as Ruiz landed a haymaker late in the frame. The impact and damage was minimal, but still enough to cause a collective gasp. Escobedo rolled with the punch and returned the favor with a left hook and right hand to the temple to end the fight.
The win is the fourth straight for Escobedo, who improves to 26-3 (15KO). Ruiz has now dropped sixth straight, falling to 23-10 (7KO) but adds to his reputation as a durable and iron-chinned opponent.
Golden Boy Promotions can now move forward with plans for Broner v. Escobedo in the champions hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The fight will be Escobedos first away from home since his lopsided points loss to Robert Guerrero in Nov. 10. Escobedo has since won four straight, though all against made-to-order opposition. The closest he came to a scare was a closer-than-expected points win over Rocky Juarez last September.
It's not often that a four-round swing bout garners accolades as a Fight of the Year contender. Ulises Soriano and Gabriel Pineda (1-0-1, 1KO) managed to accomplish just that, throwing down non-stop in a four-round war that had the crowd on its feet throughout.
The fairest call in the end is exactly what occurred - a draw. Soriano (2-0-1, 0KO) led 39-37 on one scorecard, but was overruled by matching tallies of 38-38.
In the evening's chief support, local 154 lb. prospect Oscar Godoy (5-2, 3KO) recovered from a heartbreaking knockout loss earlier this year to stop James del Cid (8-7, 3KO) at the end of two rounds. The official time was 3:00 of round two.
The decision to end the fight was an unpopular call with the local crowd, but puts Godoy back in the win column after being floored three times in losing to Joshua Marks earlier this year.