Ruelas wins WBC super-featherweight title with ease

September 18, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Texan James Leija's reign as World Boxing Council super-featherweight champion lasted one fight.

Leija got much more than he bargained for in No. 1-ranked Gabriel Ruelas of Sylmar, Calif., who won a unanimous decision last night on the strength of knockdowns in the second round and 12th and final round.

This was a spectacular, nonstop brawl in which Ruelas also was decked in the fourth round.

But Ruelas, who cut his San Antonio rival over both eyes, was the far busier of the two fighters and won by a surprisingly wide margin despite being penalized a point for several low blows in the 10th round.

The judges' cards favored Ruelas by scores of 116-108, 115-109 and 115-111.

It was the first loss for Leija (28-1-2, 13 KOs), who dethroned

longtime champion Azumah Nelson last May after fighting a draw with the Ghanaian champion in 1993.

Ruelas, who needed reconstructive surgery in 1990 to repair a shattered elbow, exhibited no discomfort in firing off countless combinations.

Mexican-born Ruelas (39-2, 22 KOs) had most of the fans in the sellout crowd of 16,000 at the MGM Grand Garden supporting him, and he seemed to thrive on their cheers.

"It was easier than I thought," Ruelas said. "I was much stronger and faster than Leija. I've worked all my life for this moment."

Ruelas had failed in a previous title bid in February 1993, when he dropped a 12-round decision to Nelson.

This time, he would not let it get away.

Said Leija: "Ruelas had more power than I expected. I was never dropped before -- amateur or pro.

"I twisted my ankle on that first knockdown in the second round, and it bothered me the rest of the fight. I just couldn't keep the pressure on him."

In other fights last night:

* International Boxing Federation welterweight champion Felix Trinidad of Puerto Rico survived a second-round knockdown to stop previously unbeaten Luis Ramon Campas of Mexico at 2 minutes, 41 seconds of the third round.

Referee Richard Steele intervened after Trinidad trapped the stocky Campas on the ropes and unleashed a barrage of 11 damaging punches.

The slender Trinidad, making his fourth defense since winning ,, the title from Maurice Blocker in 1993, raised his record to 24-0 with 20 knockouts.

Campas, who has 50 knockouts among his 56 victories, tried to end it quickly, but his punches lost steam, and he showed no defense once cornered by the taller, faster Trinidad.

* Unbeaten WBC strawweight champion Ricardo Lopez (37-0) of Mexico needed only 1:53 to record his 27th knockout, stopping Yodsing Saengmorokot (13-1) of Thailand, who is ranked No. 7 in the world.

Lopez dropped the lightly tested Thai in the opening seconds and seemed to hurt his rival with every punch.

* Super-lightweight Giovanni Parisi of Italy won a split decision over former champion Freddy Pendleton of Philadelphia in a nontitle match.

Parisi (29-1, 22 KOs), recently stripped of his World Boxing Organization crown, swayed the judges by flooring Pendleton (35-20-4, 23 KOs) in the eighth round of a lively battle.

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