Leo Santa Cruz stayed true to his style in his fourth defense of the WBC super-bantamweight championship.
In the main undercard fight before the Bermane Stiverne-Deontay Wilder heavyweight title bout here Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden, the unbeaten Santa Cruz kept pounding away at Mexico's Jesus Ruiz until the damage just mounted up.
Ruiz, who entered the fight having been knocked down just once in 247 rounds while compiling a 32-5-5 record, could not withstand the constant barrage. The 26-year-old Santa Cruz, nicknamed Terremoto (earthquake) because he used to throw so many punches as a youngster, finally got Ruiz against the ropes in the seventh round and pounded away until Ruiz had no place to go but into the welcome and waiting arms of referee Kenny Bayless.
The technical-knockout victory lifted Santa Cruz's record to 29-0-1. He got $750,000 for the fight, a large payday for an undercard fight. His manager, Al Haymond, got him the payout. Santa Cruz recently welcomed a baby boy and named him Al.
Santa Cruz, who lives in Los Angeles and was born in Mexico, has now advanced to the main event stage and is hoping for a fight against star boxer Abner Mares.
Santa Cruz was way ahead on all the judges' cards when Bayless stopped the fight. He threw 641 punches and landed 277. Ruiz threw 554 and landed 120. Santa Cruz, known for his body punching, landed 73 power punches to Ruiz's midsection.
Those who tuned in to Showtime for the first undercard fight got a treat.
Amir Imam of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., unbeaten at 15-0, knocked down Fidel Maldonado of Albuquerque once in the second round, three times in the third and finished it with a short left hook in the fifth. Maldonado got up again, but the referee stopped the junior-welterweight bout.
Maldonado had entered with a 19-2 record and 16 knockouts.
Imam, a prospect now at 140 pounds, had never been knocked down in a pro fight before Maldonado caught him in the third.
Before the fight, Imam, who is 24 and carries the nickname "The Young Master," gave a nice preview of his approach.
"You don't get paid for overtime," he said.
Maldonado said afterward he was fine, despite his frequent trips to the canvas.
"I got bored in there, and decided to go toe-to-toe," he said.
Bad decision. That's when Imam caught him with the short left.
Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions announced Saturday that it had signed up-and-coming Canadian middleweight David Lemieux.
Lemieux's most recent success was a Dec. 6 defense of his NABF title, with a 10th-round TKO of Gabriel Rosado. That bout was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Lemieux had broken an orbital bone in Rosado's eye in the third round, prompting the eventual stoppage.
In a press briefing that included Golden Boy officials De La Hoya and 50-year-old middleweight legend Bernard Hopkins, who is still fighting, potential upcoming opponents mentioned for Lemieux included Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
"He'll fight anybody," De La Hoya said. "That's why we wanted to sign him."
Lemieux said, "What you saw against Rosado, a fighter I greatly respect, was 50% of me."
Early on the undercard, Cesar Quinonez of Las Vegas beat Joan Valenzuela of Chula Vista in an impressive showing. It was Quinonez's professional debut.
His nickname is "The Great."