IWAN Evans (@IwanEvans19) highlights the value from the early hours of Sunday’s Premier Boxing Champions series.
Hugo Ruiz v Julio Ceja | Sunday 02.00 | BT Sport/ESPN
An exciting featherweight bout between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares headlines the latest edition in the Premier Boxing Champions series. But it's the chief support, between two Mexican super bantamweights, that catches my eye at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Airing live on ESPN in the USA and BT Sport/ESPN in the UK, it promises to be a thrilling night of action, with four aggressive Mexican/Mexican heritage fighters taking centre stage.
Julio Ceja (29-1, 26 KO's) and Hugo Ruiz (35-2, 31 KO's) clash for the Interim WBC super bantamweight title, although could be upgraded to full champion, if headliner Santa Cruz was to remain at 126lbs full-time.
Twenty-two-year-old Ceja, like many in his homeland, turned pro at the ripe old age of 16 and has fought for a world title once before – his only defeat, as he lost a majority decision for the vacant IBF bantamweight crown to current WBA bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell in Doncaster in May 2013.
‘Pollito' came over to these shores with a fearsome reputation as a puncher but was beaten in a close fight, with home advantage possibly swinging it in Jamie's favour. It's a defeat that hasn't really put Julio's career too far behind however, and he has since rebounded with five consecutive wins, four of which have come inside the distance.
Ceja is someone who's been on my watch-list for a considerable amount of time. I've always believed he's a world champion in waiting and he's shown some versatility in his recent bouts, proving he can box on the back foot, which could well be a huge plus for him here.
However, what could really swing this bout in his favour is his body punching. It's been noted in this week's Boxing News how good his work to the midriff is, and the fact he's been more active than his opponent of late, could see him wear down Ruiz.
The man known as “Little Twin” is the more naturally suited to this super bantamweight division and three of his last four contests have come at this weight whilst Ceja has not been above 118 ¾lbs since December 2012.
Ruiz also holds a near 4-inch height advantage, as well as the edge in reach. But given Hugo is a bit of a brawler, he may not use those advantages favourably. The 28-year-old from Sinaloa, is an ex-interim WBA bantamweight champion, making four successful defences before losing a split decision over in Japan against Koki Kameda for the full WBA title.
That contest was in December 2012. He's fought just the four times since and has been out of the ring since November last year. One of those fights saw him severely tested by Julio Cesar Miranda, who's current form lines readW1-D1-L6 rom his last eight bouts, only narrowly winning on points and there wasn’t much of a Plan B from Ruiz other than to brawl, in that contest.
Both guys have a high KO%, but I'm not entirely sure if either will carry their power up to this division. I can see this fight going the full 12 rounds and I like the younger, fresher man, who I've long tipped for world honours and who could well come on strong down the stretch.
I have Julio Ceja as the favourite, the bookies don't. The 5/4 available with Ladbrokes is great value.
Hugo Ruiz v Julio Ceja – Julio Ceja to win (5/4 Ladbrokes)
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