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Unbeaten boxer Leo set to go distance

Erik Ruiz, a boxer from Oxnard, Calif., has never been knocked out in 25 professional bouts. Some of the best young boxers in the bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions have tried.

That’s why Angelo Leo isn’t thinking knockout as he prepares to face Ruiz in a scheduled eight-round super bantamweight (122-pound) bout Friday night at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Las Vegas, Nev.

“On paper he has an average record (17-7-1, seven knockouts), but I’ve seen him fight,” Leo (14-0, seven KOs), an Albuquerquean who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, said in a phone interview. “He comes to fight, he’s durable, he’ll go the distance. That’s what I’m prepared for, to go the distance with him.”

And yet, at age 24 and six years into his pro career, Leo can feel himself getting stronger and his punching power increasing.

In his most recent fight, against veteran Glenn Porras (31-7 at the time) of the Philippines, Leo ended it with a left hook to the liver in the first round.

“People are telling me I’m growing into my body,” Leo said. “… In sparring, I can feel the difference. I can see it in my (sparring partners), that they’re feeling the shots. I’m not even throwing at full power, but they’re still feeling it.”

Ruiz, 26, has had a strength of schedule that any basketball program would envy. His seven losses have come to fighters with a combined record of 119-11-2 entering those bouts. Among them are Jesse Magdaleno, a former world champion, and Diego De La Hoya, (21-0) – related to Oscar both by blood (they’re cousins) and boxing ability.

Ruiz also fought to a draw against Horacio Garcia, who was 30-1 at the time.

The flip side is that most of Ruiz’s losses were lopsided on the scorecards.

Nonetheless, Leo said, “He’s no pushover.”

Leo has faced no pushovers since signing with Mayweather Promotions 13 months ago. He’s 4-0 with two knockouts as a Mayweather contract fighter against opponents who had a combined 74-19 record.

He’ll be back in the ring Friday just six weeks after his most recent fight. No problem, he said, since he took no punishments while needing barely a minute-and-a-half to dispatch Porras.

“I was back in the gym the next Wednesday,” he said. “That’s the way I like it. … I feel a lot better, a lot faster, more agile (that way) than if I take two or three weeks off.”

Though Leo and his father, Miguel, have put down roots in Vegas, the Albuquerque connection is not broken. Longtime Albuquerque trainer Luis Chavez will be in Leo’s corner Friday.

The card will not be televised, but there’s a possibility it will be streamed on Mayweather Promotions’ Facebook page.

AMATEURS: In Salt Lake City, Albuquerque’s Abraham Perez continued his pursuit of a 2020 Olympic berth with a victory by unanimous decision over Saul Gomez of Las Vegas, Nev., Tuesday night in first-round action at the USA Boxing National Championships.

Perez, competing in the Elite Division 114-pound weight class, is scheduled to face St. Louis’ Timothy Jarman in today’s quarterfinals. He is one of three New Mexico boxers fighting in the Elite Division. Albuquerque’s Sharahya Moreu and Rio Rancho’s Jocelyn Shade are both entered in the Elite women’s 152-pound weight class and were scheduled to fight (not against each other) in quarterfinals Wednesday night.

Also on Tuesday, four New Mexicans in other divisions won their opening bouts, all by unanimous decision.

Farmington’s Jermaine Nez (Intermediate, 75 pounds) defeated Gracen Hoopii of Spring Valley, Calif.

Albuquerque’s Filomeno Pulido (Junior, 106) defeated Gaven Taylor of Sturgis, S.D.

Gallup’s Richard Archuleta (Youth, 108) defeated Anthony Thompson of Cincinnati.

Albuquerque’s Alejandro Castillo (Intermediate, 75) defeated Dane Herrera of Commerce City, Colo.