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Ruiz rages in Cayman

• Santa Clarita native, Hart grad in his biggest fight

Posted: June 20, 2008 1:58 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Juan Ruiz Jr. shows his fighting stance in a photo taken last year. Tonight, Ruiz will fight Wayne McCullough on Showtime's "Cayman Knockout: Championship Boxing".

 

Boxing fans - and fans of local sports figures in the Santa Clarita Valley - can get their fill at 5 p.m. today on Showtime.

Juan Ruiz Jr., who dubs himself "The Pride of Santa Clarita", will fight Wayne McCullough in a 10-round light featherweight bout. Ruiz Jr. (21-5, six knockouts) is ranked No. 11 in the world.

The 37-year-old McCullough, a silver medalist in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, is using the fight as a comeback.

The Pocket Rocket is 27-6 with 18 KOs.

The fight, part of "Cayman Knockout: Championship Boxing" is the undercard of Andre Ward's battle against Jerson Ravelo.

On Wednesday in a telephone interview from George Town, Cayman Islands, Ruiz Jr. talked about tonight's fight with one of the best in his weight class.

"He's a world champion," Ruiz Jr. said. "This is one of my biggest fights. I've been trying to get that number one title spot, so this is my big test. He's been there, I haven't."

Ruiz, a 1998 graduate of Hart High School, began part of his training at the Santa Clarita Community Center.

He now trains with Larry Goosen, who used to train Oscar de la Hoya.

"He's been around," Ruiz said of Goosen. "It's a big difference."

While the winner of today's fight will not win a title, it is one step closer toward fighting for one.

Ruiz Jr. is looking for his first big win since Nov. 12, 2005, when he beat Priest "Tiger" Smalls. His first win was in April 2006, and he went 2007 without fighting.

That was in big part because his former promoter, Mark Liddy, died in 2006. From the time Ruiz, Jr. began his boxing career in 1998, Liddy was right there with him.

David Ruiz, his older brother, is one of his co-managers.

"He's known in boxing," David Ruiz said of his brother. "When you say his name, people know exactly what you're talking about. He was the busiest fighter in 2004.

In February, Ruiz lost what was widely considered in boxing as a controversial loss to North American Boxing Federation super-bantamweight title fight against Bernabe Concepcion.

The fight was on pay-per-view. People who saw the fight, which featured Ruiz knocking Concepcion down once, felt he won. But he lost in a 12-round decision.

"I beat him in 12 rounds," Ruiz Jr. said. "He had a scheduled fight against Juan Manuel Lopez. He's got (famous promoter) Bob Arum in his round. That's what happened."

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