By Francisco Salazar
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Diego De La Hoya made things look easy against Jesus Ruiz on Friday night.
At only 21 years of age, some wonder just how good he can become.
De La Hoya displayed a variety of power and an improving skill-set in defeating Ruiz by unanimous decision before a sold-out crowd at the Belasco Theatre.
With Oscar De La Hoya, who is his older cousin and promoter, looking on from ringside, Diego De La Hoy was able to dissect Ruiz throughout the bout.
Ruiz was no slouch, as he provided a stern test for De La Hoya.
Ruiz challenged for a world title belt against Leo Santa Cruz on January 17, losing by technical knockout.
De La Hoya was able to work from the outside, mixing in an array of work to the head and body. He was able to set up his combinations behind a jab, puncturing each with right hands to the head.
Ruiz attempted to work De La Hoya's body, but left himself exposed to being countered.
De La Hoya was cut along his right eye in the seventh round. His corner was able to stop the cut, allowing him to continue to dictate and land the more telling blows.
De La Hoya stunned Ruiz with a left hook in the ninth round. De La Hoya attempted to follow up, but Ruiz hung in there, fighting back until the final bell.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of De La Hoya, 100-90, 100-90, and 99-91.
"Movement was a big part of our strategy," said Ruiz after the fight. "I thought I hurt him on a few occasions, especially with the uppercut."
De La Hoya is managed by Joel De La Hoya.
De La Hoya improves to 12-0, 7 KOs, while Ruiz drops to 34-7-5, 23 KOs.
Lightweight prospect Everton Lopes remained unbeaten, beating Omar Tienda by majority decision over eight rounds. Tienda (13-1, 8 KOs) dropped Lopes in the second round, although it looked as Lopes lost his balance. Lopes (4-0, 1 KO) began to control the action, landing repeatedly with lead left hands to the head. Tienda swung momentum his way in round five, dropping Lopes with a lead right cross to the head. Tienda attempted to follow up, but the action turned into an sloppy affair where both fighters ended getting tied up or pushed down onto the canvas. One judge scored the bout 75-75, while the other two judges scored the bout 76-74 in favor of Lopes.
Christian Gonzalez stopped Luis Lizarraga in the second round. After a slow opening round, Gonzalez (11-0, 10 KOs) pressed the action, successfully walking Lizarraga down. Gonzalez hurt Lizarraga with a left hook to the body midway through the second round. Moments later, Gonzalez unleashed a left hook that dropped Lizarraga (5-6-1, 2 KOs) to the canvas. Lizarraga beat the count, but his trainer stepped inside the ring, likely preventing Lizarraga from receiving what was likely further punishment. Referee Sharon Sands stopped the bout at 2:09.
Junior lightweight Ivan Delgado won a six round unanimous decision over a game Thomas Herrera. Delgado (7-0-1, KOs) landed the more telling blows throughout the fight. Anytime Herrera (4-14-1, 1 KO) tried to mount an attack, Delgado would back him with counter left hands to the head. All three judges scored the bout 60-54 in favor of Delgado.
Junior featherweight Rafael Gramajo won a tougher-than-expected six round unanimous decision over Adrian Rodriguez. Gramajo (5-1-1, 2 KOs) seemed to be in control during the first half, but Rodriguez began to land more repeatedly from the fourth round on. Rodriguez (1-7-1) scored with overhand lefts to the head and beat Gramajo to the punch in the final round with repeated right uppercuts. All three judges scored the bout 58-56 in favor of Gramajo.
Junior welterweight Jonathan Navarro dropped Gibran Gutierrez three times in route to a four round unanimous decision. Navarro (2-0, 1 KO) dropped Gutierrez twice in the first round. Gutierrez, who was making his pro debut, hung in there during the middle rounds, but was dropped again late in the final round, courtesy of a right hand from Navarro. Gutierrez was able to beat the count and make it out of the round. All three judges scored the bout 40-33 in favor of Navarro.