It’s Ruvalcaba time, or else |

It’s Ruvalcaba time, or else

Reaching the crossroads of a career doesn’t normally occur in fight No. 2, but lightweight boxer Simon Ruvalcaba sees it that way after losing his pro debut.

The 23-year-old South Lake Tahoe boxer says he must beat Justo Almazan in their rematch Friday at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe or he’ll become a fighter he despises.

“If I win, it’s expected, but if I were to lose I’d be losing my status on the business side of boxing,” Ruvalcaba said. “If I go down to 0-2 I’m going to lose the label of prospect and be given the label of opponent. I would really have to think if I’d want to be an opponent.”

The four-round lightweight bout is part of a seven-fight card that ends Harrah’s Lake Tahoe’s 11-year absence from boxing. The card is headlined by 10-round bouts between lightweights Efren Hinojosa (22-0) and Ivan Robinson (30-5-1) and junior middleweights Carlos Bojorquez (15-2-5) and Adrian Sanchez (10-1).

Ruvalcaba lost a decision to Almazan last month in Vallejo, Calif. Trainer Juan Torres is making sure his pupil realizes he needs to get busier to win the rematch.

“He has to beat this guy. There are no ifs, ors or buts,” Torres said. “He had everything to win his first fight, but he didn’t win it. He froze. It has everything to do with going from the minor leagues to the pros. He has to be aggressive and trade punches with him and give the 2 for 1.

“We just have to go in there with a different mentality. He can beat this guy, but he has to believe that he can do it.”

Almazan has an unspectacular 4-15-1 record, but his experience seemed to get the better of Ruvalcaba the first time.

“This guy is hard to stop so I’m just going to do my thing,” Ruvalcaba said. “We’re expecting another distance fight, and I just plan on being the busier guy.”

Several factors are working in Ruvalcaba favor this time:

— He’ll have the hometown support that Torres used to thrive on during his boxing and kickboxing careers.

— The weight limit has been bumped up from 135 to 137 pounds, keeping Ruvalcaba from stressing the weigh-in.

— He’ll be fighting Almazan above 6,000 feet – an altitude that Almazan may find difficult adjusting to. He arrived at Stateline just two days before the fight.

— Thunderstorms are in the forecast. The last time Ruvalcaba fought during one he captured the South Korea championship while in the Army.

— Plus Ruvalcaba wants to prove that his debut was a anomaly.

“I’m looking forward to a good performance and redeeming myself,” he said. “I didn’t really impress anybody, whether it was family or the business side of boxing. I want to show that I’m not just a gym fighter.”

Bojorquez will also have plenty of fans on his side. The former Placerville resident upset Pernell Whitaker in his previous fight, separating ‘Sweetpea’s” shoulder in the fourth round to earn the technical knockout.

“I love Lake Tahoe. I used to work construction here on the weekends,” Bojorquez said. “I have good people here who are coming to see me.”

Bojorquez has fought more than twice as much as his opponent. But Sanchez reportedly is a strong, athletic fighter who pitched minor league ball for the Chicago Cubs.

The main event features one of the most active punchers in the fight game today in Hinojosa against a veteran in Robinson who is capable of dealing the Mexico City fighter his first defeat.

“Hinojosa and Robinson is as good of a lightweight match as you could make,” said promoter Don Chargin.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the first bout set for 6 p.m. Premium seats are $75 apiece, with remaining tickets selling for $35.

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