By Robert Hough
Photo: Mariano Serrano
Bruno Escalante battled through fighting with a damaged left hand for eight rounds and scored a unanimous decision on Saturday over Victor Ruiz to retain his IBA Continental junior bantamweight belt. Escalante (13-1-1, 6 KOs), a southpaw, said he had to adjust as he struggled even to keep his left up and strong to block punches as Ruiz (12-2, 9 KOs) fought aggressively throughout the 10-round bout at Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, Calif., about 90 miles northeast of San Francisco. Scores were 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.
“I had to use my feints and movement, and try to use my right more,” a visibly discomforted Escalante said after the fight, which headlined a card co-promoted by Paco Presents and Don Chargin Productions. “I had to change things a lot because I have power in both hands, but my left is my best. I saw he was focusing on my right as the fight went on so I had to put my left out there some, but not with anything on it.”
Ruiz applied pressure from the opening bell and kept Escalante, from Cebu Philippines from establishing a consistent rhythm, though he had moments of landing an effective jab and countering the fighter from Tijuana, Mexico, and landed the fight’s biggest punches.
Ruiz was active from the opening bell, leaving Escalante no time to establish a rhythm. The Mexican fighter generally delivered more punches and aggression, though Escalante maintained a tidy defense and had success with counters.
Bruno, who fights out of San Carlos, Calif., about 30 miles south of San Francisco, hurt Ruiz in the seventh and eighth round with counter rights.
Escalante, whose hand was severely swollen near the thumb and forefinger, said the injury occurred in the second round when he hit Ruiz’s forehead.
It’s the sort of thing that may pay dividends in the months and years ahead, Herb Stone, Escalante’s manager said.
“We knew he was a great fighter, but this was a huge mental test,” Stone said. “It would have been easy for him to give up mentally or lose focus and lose the fight. We knew this would be a challenging fight for him, but this made it a lot harder and he’s shown that he can handle that kind of adversity.”
Escalante was expansive in praising his corner, both for the adjustments with strategy and tactics, and motivation.
“My team reminded me why I’m here,” he said. “I left my family and friends behind to be here and doing this and I didn’t make all these sacrifices to lose my confidence or quit when something like this comes up. It was a test today and I pulled it off.”
Mendez Controls Perez
Middleweight Paul Mendez (16-2-2, 7 KOs) scored a workman-like victory over Santiago Perez (12-3, 3 KOs). All three scores in the eight-round bout were 80-72, though the fight was more competitive than the scores indicate. Perez pressed forward relentlessly, landed some punches and kept Mendez under pressure throughout the fight, but Perez, from Salinas, Calif., usually either picked off the Los Angeles fighter, out-worked him on the inside and landed the bigger blows.
Robb Decisions Ramirez
Junior lightweight Guy Robb (13-1, 5 KOs) earned a unanimous decision over Daniel Ramirez (10-1, 4 KOs). All three scores were 60—54, though the fight was competitive. The Sacramento, Calif., fighter was consistently just a little bit better with defense, output and landing punches than the man from Tijuana, Mexico.
Pinell Crushes Mallard
Middleweight Ricardo Pinell (8-1-1, 6 KOs) looked to have his hands full with Darren Mallard (2-1), but the Sacramento fighter appeared to tire in the second round and started taking more punches. Pinell, from San Francisco, landed a huge left in the second and another in the third before the third one dropped him hard. There was no count. Time of the end was 2:17 of the third round.
Ambrosio Draws Martinez
Fresno, Calif., middleweight Luis Ambrosio (4-0-1, 3 KOs) and Los Angeles’ Cesar Martinez (4-2-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after Martinez pressed the action and landed a lot of punches. Ambrosio had some success in landing counters, but he looked relieved to hear the scores while Martinez, not unreasonably, looked disgusted. Scores were 38-38 twice and 39-37 for Martinez.
Bourland Bests Ledic
Vacaville, Calif., cruiserweight (2-0, 1 KO) edged Zlatko Ledic (0-2-1), who made the trip from Oxnard, Calif., about an hour north of Los Angeles. Ledic, generally the aggressor, landed his share of punches, but Bourland landed the bigger shots. Scores were 38-38, 39-37 and 39-37.