When Mexican junior featherweights Julio Cesar Ceja and Hugo Ruiz met for a vacant world title on Aug. 29, they produced an all-action slugfest that had the crowd at Staples Center in Los Angeles roaring with approval.
It was an intense battle in which Ruiz, 29, knocked the 23-year-old Ceja down with a left hook in the third round and had him in major trouble.
Ceja survived but was down 40-35, 39-36 and 38-37 on the scorecards going into the fifth round when he came roaring back to score a punishing knockout to win the vacant 122-pound world title that Leo Santa Cruz, who outpointed Abner Mares to win a vacant featherweight title in the main event that night, had relinquished.
Ceja (30-1, 27 KOs) and Ruiz (35-3, 31 KOs) will meet again in an immediate rematch Saturday night (Showtime, 10 ET) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, on the undercard of Santa Cruz's first defense against former junior featherweight titleholder Kiko Martinez.
The expectations for Ceja-Ruiz is another fireworks-filled fight. Ceja says it will deliver.
"This will be a toe-to-toe fight because we both know each other's strengths and having fought before we know this rematch will be explosive," Ceja said.
"We have had a long and very intense camp. We are prepared and know what is on the line here because we know that Hugo comes at it with everything he has got. This is a prestigious opportunity that I have been presented with and we can forecast that it will be an all-or-nothing fight."
Ceja even went so far as to say the rematch would be better than the first fight.
"From the second we knew there would be a rematch, we immediately started training," Ceja said. "We knew going in to this again that it will be a tough fight and this one will be better than the first. It will be more dangerous and more of a fight than the last because of what the rematch represents. I have trained very hard because I know what is on the line and I am not going to allow Ruiz to take that title from me so easily. It is going to be an all-out battle."
Ruiz, of course, has revenge on his mind.
"I feel like I have the advantage in speed and power," Ruiz said. "I was looking for the knockout from the beginning and I will do that again on [Saturday]. Ceja came into the fight very aggressively and he put just the right amount of pressure on me. This defeat is behind me now, but I did gain experience from the defeat that I will take into this fight.
"I'm working on my defense and on putting more pressure on him throughout this fight. I have to be aware of his left hand. The hook hurt me last time so I have been working on getting my right hand up to block it. I have to use my skills to be victorious. This is going to be another very explosive fight. Expect a lot of punches, but this time I will be walking out a world champion."