Ruiz, Ceja meet for interim belt in PBC on ESPN co-main event

Julio Ceja faces Mexican countryman Hugo Ruiz on Saturday's PBC on ESPN co-main event for a vacant interim title at 122 pounds. Suzanne Teresa/PBC

Leo Santa Cruz holds a junior featherweight world title, but for the second fight in a row, he will be fighting in the featherweight division when he takes on Abner Mares in their much-anticipated Los Angeles bragging rights showdown on the Premier Boxing Champions card Saturday (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET) at the Staples Center.

After the fight, Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 KOs) will be faced with a decision -- to remain at featherweight or return to junior featherweight and continue defending his title.

Either way, the WBC is ready. It has sanctioned the co-feature between Mexican countrymen Hugo Ruiz (35-2, 31 KOs), 28, and Julio Ceja (29-1, 26 KOs), 22, to meet for the vacant interim belt.

If Santa Cruz returns to 122 pounds, he will have to face the Ruiz-Ceja winner. If Santa Cruz remains at featherweight, the Ruiz-Ceja winner will take over the full title.

But most believe that Santa Cruz, win or lose, will remain at featherweight, adding more significance to Ruiz-Ceja, which would be in essence for the vacant title.

Both fighters understand the significance of the bout.

"This is a big opportunity for me and I am coming to knock Ruiz out. That is the plan," Ceja said. "I want to be world champion. It is right in front of me. My time is here and I know I have the skills to get there. This is going to be a great fight for the fans. We are going to exchange and show our heart and the best man is going to win."

"Winning this fight means everything. I am prepared for a great performance," Ruiz said at Wednesday's media workout. "I'm very happy and very motivated for this fight. I'm ready for Saturday night.

"Ceja is a great fighter but we prepared 100 percent to win this. It's going to be the best of Mexican boxing."

Ruiz previously held an interim bantamweight belt before going to Japan and losing a split decision to full titlist Koki Kameda in 2012. Ruiz has won four fights in a row since.

Ceja has also had one previous world title shot but lost a majority decision to Jamie McDonnell in a vacant bantamweight world title fight in McDonnell's home country of England in May 2013. Ceja has reeled off five wins in a row since.

In another undercard bout, popular Mexican brawler Alfredo Angulo (23-5, 19 KOs), 33, will face Hector Munoz (23-15-1, 15 KOs), 37, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who has lost to a who's who of top fighters. Their middleweight bout will be streamed live on ESPN3.com beginning at 9 p.m. ET.