Gabriel Ruelas had an odd complaint Saturday night for a fighter with 32 pro fights and the ranking as No. 1 junior lightweight contender by the World Boxing Council: The guy he fought wouldn't stand still.
It was an old trick. Fighters like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard made the tactic popular.
Ruelas, 21, of Arleta, came within a round or two of losing both the fight and the top rating (and a mandatory bout against WBC junior lightweight champion Azumah Nelson) in gaining a tough, 10-round majority decision over slick-boxing Paul Ditau Molefyane of South Africa in a bout at the Reseda Country Club.
Ruelas (31-1) clearly landed the harder punches throughout the fight but was stung by more than 100 crisp, fast jabs by Molefyane, who used his faster hands and feet to frustrate Ruelas.
There were no knockdowns and neither fighter was hurt, but Ruelas was left, figuratively, with a red face.
"You just can't look good against a guy like that," he said. "I've never been so frustrated in a fight. He wouldn't stand and fight. Even when I stayed on the ropes to lure him in, he kept moving.
"I really don't think he wanted to win."
Molefyane nearly did win. Judge Pat Russell scored the fight even and Rudy Jordan and Lou Moret scored it just 96-94 for Ruelas.
Molefyane, 27, now living in San Bernardino, is 23-6. In his previous bout he was stopped in the eighth round by former featherweight champion Tony Lopez in Sacramento late last year. But Ruelas never had him in any trouble.
"At least it should have been a draw," Molefyane said. "I hit him with so many more punches."
Both fighters weighed 132 3/4.
Ruelas could fight Nelson early next year, according to his manager Dan Goossen.
In a fight that had much more action, Louis Howard of Wentzville, Mo., stopped Engels Pedroza of Las Vegas at 2 minutes 37 seconds of the seventh round to win the WBC Continental Americas super welterweight title.
The two traded crushing blows in every round. Howard (33-7-1 with 26 knockouts) was rocked in the fourth, absorbing a horrible beating but surviving to the bell.
In the seventh round, he staggered Pedroza (36-4, 35 knockouts) and then unloaded more than a dozen heavy, thudding blows to the jaw of the dazed Pedroza before referee Lou Fillipo stopped the bout. Pedroza was still standing at the end.
Both weighed 148.