By Jake Donovan
OMAHA-- Terence Crawford makes the first defense of his super lightweight title, as he faces Dierry Jean in the headlining act at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
The bout will air live on HBO (Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET).
In the evening's chief support, unbeaten heavyweight prospect Andy Ruiz Jr. continued his redemption tour with a one-sided eight round win over Raphael Zumbano Love.
Scores were 80-72 (twice) and 80-70 in favor of the 26-year old heavyweight, who dished out a beating but was forced to settle for a landslide win.
"I wanted that knockout, but he showed a good chin and didn't back down," Ruiz told BoxingScene.com after the fight. "It felt good to go eight rounds and not tire. I could have went a few more rounds if I had two."
The bout marked Ruiz' second ring appearance in four weeks. His previous fight came on September 26, forced to settle for a dull eight-round decision versus late replacement Joell Godfrey, who showed little interest in fighting back.
It was quite the opposite with Zumbano, whose heart was in the right place, but essentially served as a punching bag for eight rounds. The veteran heavyweight from Brazil had his moments, including a booming overhand right towards the end of round six. Ruiz grinned as he took the shot, never hurt but more embarrassed that it caught him.
By that point, Zumbano (37-12-1, 30KOs) had taken a vicious beating both upstairs and to the body. He was rocked on a number of occasions, including in the eighth and final round but managed to hear the final bell.
Ruiz improves to 26-0 (17KOs) with the win. His weight for the fight was 248.8 lbs., one pound heavier than his win over Godfrey but still a good 20 lbs. lighter than where he was last year when his team demanded he literally shape up or shove off.
"If I was still carrying around that extra weight, I never would've gotten through a fight like this and been able to throw for all those rounds," Ruiz admitted afterward. "I would like to get to 245 lbs. and then add muscle, tone up.
"Once that happens... all I can say is, watch out for Andy Ruiz Jr. The best is yet to come."
Ruiz will return to the ring on December 5 in Fresno, California. He will appear on the undercard of a show headlined by unbeaten super lightweight prospect Jose Ramirez, with both fights to air live on UniMas.
GRADOVICH RETURNS WITH WIN... BARELY
Evgeny Gradovich returned to the win column, scoring a split decision win over Aldimar Silva in an eight round fight that was much closer in action than most expected heading into the night.
The bout was the first piece of ring action for Gradovich since a disheartening technical decision loss to Lee Selby in May. The defeat cost him a featherweight belt as well as his unbeaten record, also appearing to have taken a little something out of his career early in Saturday's ring return.
Silva refused to settle in to his assigned role as opponent, repeatedly tagging Gradovich early in the fight. It wasn't until the veteran boxer from Brazil got on his bike in round four did the ex-champ finally settle down and put in his best work to that point.
It proved to be a pivotal moment in the fight, as Gradovich assumed control over the second half of the contest. Silva chose to box more from the outside, but not following up with his jab as Gradovich was able to beat him to the punch and avoid a major upset.
Silva managed a 77-75 nod on one card ,but scores of 79-71 (huh?!) and 78-74 landed in favor of Gradovich, who advances to 20-1-1 (9KOs). A drop down to the 122 lb. division is likely in store for the former featherweight champ, who believes he will be able to get more leverage on his punches at a lower weight he insists he can make.
Canada's Mikael Zewski rebounded from his first career loss with a fifth round knockout of Ayi Bruce in their welterweight bout.
The only thing that went wrong for Zewski this weekend was missing weight. The 26-year old prospect was slightly over the contracted weight, which Bruce was fine with proceeding without forcing him to shed any weight.
It likely wouldn't have made any difference, but Zewski (27-1, 20KOs) was at full strength and in full control for as long as the fight landed. Bruce (23-12, 15KOs) offered a credible account of himself even in losing each round, only to crumble once Zewski was able to land upstairs. The bout's lone knockdown produced a full ten count, with the end coming at 1:41 of round five.
Julian "Hammer Hands" Rodriguez dominated Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz in a bout shortened from six to four rounds. Scores were 40-36 (twice) and 39-37. Rodriguez (11-0, 9KOs) is a prospect to watch; this was not a performance for the time capsule, as his eight-fight knockout streak comes to a close in a forgettable fight.
Alex Saucedo appeared well on his way to an early knockout, but was instead forced to settle for a six-round shutout over Angel Martinez. Scores were 60-52 (twice) and 60-54 - the third judge apparently not realizing you can score 10-8 rounds - in favor of Saucedo (20-0, 14KOs), who floored Martinez (14-8-1, 10KOs) late in round five and early in round six.
Local prospect Alfredo Martinez cruised to a four-round decison over Darin Hampton. Scores were 40-33 (twice) and 40-34 in favor of Martinez (4-0, 2KOs), who scored three knockdowns - two in the 2nd round and then forcing Hampton (1-2, 0KOs) to a knee in the final 20 seconds of the bout.
Zsolt Daranyi Jr. opened the evening with a two-round drubbing of local opponent Sean Rawley Wilson. Daranyi (5-0, 5KOs) scored the bout's lone knockdown in round one, before proceeding to pound on Wilson (5-16-1, 1KOs) in round two. The referee played the role of interested observer before realizing his role, finally rescuing a near-defenseless Wilson from further punishment. Official time was 1:55 of round two.
Terence Crawford vs. Dierry Jean - 12 rds, super lightweight
Andy Ruiz Jr UD8 Raphael Zumbano Love (80-72 x2, 80-70)
Mikael Zewski KO5 (1:41) Ayi Bruce (Bruce down in rd 5, takes full 10 count)
Evgeny Gradovich SD8 Aldimar Silva (77-75 Silva, 79-71 & 78-74 Gradovich)
Julian Rodriguez UD4 Alvaro Ortiz (40-36, 39-37)
Alex Saucedo UD6 Angel Martinez (60-52 x2, 60-54)
Alfredo Martinez UD4 Darin Hampton (40-33 x2, 40-33)
Zsolt Daranyi Jr KO2 (1:55) Sean Rawley Wilson (Wilson down in rd 1, pummeled in rd 2)
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox