Former unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz survived an early scare after he was dropped in the second and hurt in the third by fellow Mexican-American Chris Arreola before rising to win a wide, unanimous decision at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, on Saturday night.

Scores were 118-109 (twice) and 117-111 in the WBA heavyweight title eliminator.

“Chris is a veteran and a hard puncher,” said Ruiz afterwards. “We did what we had to do tonight. We got the victory that we wanted. I was at my lowest point and now I have to climb the ladder again. I’m thankful for the victory and I’m ready to move on to the next.

“He got me with a good clean right hand in the second round. I was too overconfident and dropped my hand a bit. Hats off to him. We just kept pushing and pushing. I switched up and started focusing on counterpunching and working the body.”

Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) was dropped by an overhand right in the second, looking more disappointed than hurt, but came back firing. He was then wobbled by a left hook in third before tightening up his defence sufficiently.

The former champion responded strongly to his early adversity, employing stout body work and an incisive left hook, as Arreola’s punch output dropped through fatigue and an apparent injury to his left shoulder.

“I respect the judges, but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Arreola (38-7-1, 33 KOs). “He might have won, but don’t tell me I only won two or three rounds. I got hit in the shoulder and it kind of threw it off. It wasn’t a big deal though. It’s a part of boxing. I didn’t take too much punishment. I’m ready to run it back with Andy.”

In the co-main event, Abel Ramos (27-4-2, 21 KOs) halted former champion Omar Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs) on a sixth-round retirement in their WBA welterweight title eliminator. Ramos hammered Figueroa to the body before the former lightweight title holder retired on his stool. 

“We trained to attack the body,” said Ramos. “Our plan from the beginning was to pressure him. We wanted to score points to the body. I could hear him groaning and I knew, once I hurt him bad, that the fight was over.”

Meanwhile, towering 154-pounder Sebastian Fundora (17-0-1, 12 KOs) earned a fourth-round stoppage of Jorge Cota (30-5, 27 KOs) in their WBC super-welterweight title eliminator.

In a fast-paced firefight, Fundora finally downed Cota in the fourth before the contest was waved off following a big left hook, shortly after the fight’s resumption. Cota disagreed with the intervention.

“My message to the rest of the division is that we’re here,” said Fundora. “If you’re ready for war, we’re ready to take it. Bring it on.”

Main image: Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports.