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Power-punching slugger Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista (30-2, 23 KOs) may be back on track to the world stage. And a rematch with tormentor Heriberto “Cuate” Ruiz (46-10-2, 28 KOs) may just be one of the steps towards a world championship for the still young Filipino pugilist.

Bautista was rebounding from his first career loss to Daniel Ponce de Leon when he clashed with Ruiz back in November 2008. With three wins prior, everything was looking good for Bautista and Ruiz was just another contender that he needed to dispose of.

But what transpired in that match was something many, writer included, expected the very least. Bautista got bullied, boxed, and outpointed by someone who can take his punches and hit hard as well. Ruiz went toe-to-toe and took Bautista’s best punches, and even scored a knockdown in the third round.

Almost three years later, both men will entangle once again. This time, for the IBF international featherweight title. But while many look at a possible Bautista-De Leon rematch a more pressing fight for the Filipino, Bautista’s slugfest with Ruiz is the fight that will make him – or break him.

A lot has been said of Bautista’s improvements in terms of skill, defense, and technique. And if he is able to show that against a man whom he cannot break down, much less knock out, then Bautista may still have what it takes to become a world champion.

However, if what occurred three years ago would repeat itself, then it’s probably high time that the young Filipino prizefighter should realized that he might have reached a plateau and start browsing his options for more up-raining and development.

Bautista is an exciting fighter, no doubt about it. And boxing fans have thoroughly enjoyed each and every boxing match this Bohol native has ever been part of. But with the impending rematch with his conqueror, can Bautista return the favor?

That is pretty much remains to be seen.

Photo credits: Golden Boy Promotions

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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.