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Ruben Villa IV Overwhelms Cristian Cruz With Jab, Late Aggressiveness


Ruben Villa IV outpointed Cristian Cruz over 10 rounds Saturday at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, on the undercard of a show headlined by a heavyweight matchup between Jared “Big Baby” Anderson and Ryad Merhy.

Villa (22-1, 7 KOs) won by scores of 98-92 (twice) and 97-93 to earn a vacant minor featherweight belt as the top bout of a preliminary card broadcast on ESPN+.

Villa, a 26-year-old from Salinas, California, won early rounds with a stiff jab that repeatedly rocked Cruz’s head back and reset his offense. As the fight progressed, Villa abandoned his jab at times to get inside and push Cruz (22-7-1, 11 KOs) against the ropes in hopes of landing more hurtful shots. 

Cruz, 27, from Tijuana, Mexico, had his moments – most notably when getting some good body work done in the fifth round. But although he roughed Villa up, he could not hurt his opponent and spent long stretches in the second half of the fight on the ropes.

Villa’s corner urged him to pile into Cruz, even as the American’s jab was scoring consistently. Villa delivered, growing more aggressive with his footwork and output, marching Cruz back. In the eighth round, he delivered a prolonged assault with Cruz on the ropes.

Cruz did not have too much difficulty making it to the final bell, but when the end of the fight came, the winner was in little doubt.

In the previous fight, Julian Delgado (1-0, 0 KOs) showboated his way to winning his professional debut, a four-round middleweight bout with Juan Tamez (1-1, 0 KOs).

Delgado landed the majority of clean, hard punches between the two and frequently danced around the ring or dropped his hands when he wasn’t scoring points. Scores were 40-36 (twice) and 39-37.

John Rincon Nips Yainel Álvarez in Close But Deserved Decision

Welterweights John Rincon (9-0, 2 KOs) and Yainel Álvarez (3-4-2, 1 KO) squared off for six messy rounds. Rincon won a majority decision by scores of 57-57, 58-56, and 59-55. Álvarez came in with the inferior record, but he showed a willingness to scrap, getting dirty at times and drawing a warning before the third round.

Rincon began landing clean shots in the fourth between Álvarez’s comparatively wild attacks. In the fifth, though, Álvarez scored with effective offense of his own, pushing Rincon back. Rincon closed the fight strong by buckling Álvarez with flush power punches – even as his opponent continued to throw chaotic flurries – to secure a deserved decision.

Abdullah Mason Cracks Ronal Ron for Another KO

Abdullah Mason had won seven of his last eight fights by knockout coming into Saturday night. Make it eight of nine.

Fighting in an eight-rounder for only the second time, Mason (13-0, 11 KOs) stopped Ronal Ron (14-6, 11 KOs) of Venezuela at 2:00 of the fourth.

In the opening round, Ron charged in to throw a left hook. Mason unleashed a straight left that dropped his onrushing opponent.

Mason showed off his hand speed in the second, flashing quick combinations on the inside and landing left uppercuts.

The third saw Ron have some fleeting success, landing a couple right hands – but his opponent never budged. Mason, from Cleveland, Ohio, delivered a hard left to the chest that dropped Ron, 26, once again.

Mason put the pedal to the metal in the fourth, simply overwhelming Ron with a barrage of power shots from both hands until referee Lawrence Cole stopped the fight. 

“This kid is special,” ESPN broadcaster Tim Bradley said after the stoppage. “He is going to be a problem in the 135-pound weight class.”

Earlier in the fight, an ESPN+ graphic listed Bradley’s “Double Stamp” prospects. Mason, at just 20 years old, leads the list.

In his postfight interview, Mason said, “Once I get to that world-championship status, I’ll be there. And it’s gonna stick, and I’m not gonna let up.”

Alejandro Guerrero and Charly Suarez Win Early-Card Bouts

A pair of eight-round junior lightweight clashes appeared earlier on the undercard. Alejandro “Pork Chop” Guerrero (13-4, 10 KOs) stopped Jalen Walker (12-1-1, 10 KOs) at 1:35 of the seventh, and Charly Suarez (17-0, 9 KOs) outpointed Louie Coria (15-7, 7 KOs) by scores of 77-74 (twice) and 76-75.

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