John Ruiz: Is He Back In the Mix?
By Ted Sares:
Article posted on 12.03.2008
My main thing is to go out there and win. That is what boxing is. You go out there and you fight and you win. It is not about looking pretty.
John “The Quite Man” Ruiz, 43-7-1-1, was 25-2 when he met undefeated David Tua in 1996 for the WBC International heavyweight title in Atlantic City. Tua was 22-0 at the time. Ruiz came out cold and was cold cocked by a particularly brutal and fully leveraged series of left hooks in just 19 seconds. It was the kind of brain-scanning inducer that could end a career, but to Ruiz’s credit, he regrouped. Three months later, he launched an unbeaten string of eleven fights including a stoppage of Tony Tucker and a SD of Jimmy Thunder for the vacant NABF heavyweight title. He also iced tough Ray Anis in one.
Then, on August 12, 2000, he fought the first of three consecutive big fights with Evander Holyfield going 1-1-1 but seemingly having the best of it over the more popular Holyfield during the course of the matches. However, the fights were not fan friendly and for many, Ruiz had a horrible style to watch with his continual clinching, sneaky short rights and roughhousing tactics. Ruiz’s unspectacular style makes it difficult for an opponent to look good, but against “The Real Deal,“ he was strong and solid and jumped back into the mix.
He successfully defended his WBA heavyweight title belt against rugged Kirk Johnson whom he defeated by DQ (Johnson virtually handed the fight to Ruiz by going low 5 or more times). He then lost the belt decisively and soundly to Roy Jones Junior in their historic fight on March 1, 2003.
By now, Ruiz had become the heavyweight fighter most fans did not want to watch. He had been winning close and ugly fights, but against Jones his time finally seem to run out.
To his credit, he came back to beat Hasim Rahman for the interim WBA heavyweight title, and defended it successfully against Fres Oquendo (TKO win) and Andrew Golota (a close UD). He then met a rotund but still highly skilled James Toney who rolled his shoulders, slipped punches and countered with brutal accuracy in scoring a 12 round unanimous decision over The "Quiet Man." Following this bout, Toney tested positive for a banned substance and the decision was changed to a "No Contest" by the New York State Athletic Commission.
Ruiz then tested the risky German Boxing scene and surrendered his title to the undefeated “Russian Giant,” Nikolay Valuev, in a hotly disputed MD loss that many observes felt was a bad decision. The bout was held at Max Schmeling Halle, in Berlin where many Russian and other Eastern European fighters are often considered the home fighter. In September 2006, Ruiz announced he would be managed by Wilfried Sauerland, the very same man who manages Valuev. His former manager, the volatile Norman Stone, retired in December 2005 stating that the unjust decision in the loss to Valuev was the last straw. His departure from Ruiz became bitter.
Undaunted, John then fought undefeated Ruslan Chagaev in November 2006 in Dusseldorf, Germany and this time lost a close SD in a WBA Heavyweight Title Eliminator.
Shaking free of domestic and managerial problems hanging over his head, “The Quite Man,” now a Las Vegas resident and far from the tough streets of blue collar Chelsea, MA, made a decision to fight on and try to get back into the heavyweight mix. On October 13, 2007, he scored a smashing second round TKO over journeyman Otis Tisdale in Chicago and looked surprisingly aggressive in the process.
Then, in a crossroads battle and a WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator, he took on big Jameel McCline on the under card of the Maskaev-Peter heavyweight bout in Cancun on March 8, 2008 and won a convincing decision over “Big Time.” Judges Guillermo Ayon had it 117-111, Manual Cervantes 118-110 and Julie Lederman 119-109. Ruiz was more active and accurate in nearly every round, though every round included the expected and unwanted shoving matches and clutching and grabbing.
Golota's loyal fan base and unpredictable behavior makes him extremely marketable as one of the most exciting attractions in the heavyweight division. If nothing else, that seems to put him in the mix.
John Ruiz is neither pretty nor pleasing to watch, but he IS determined and gutsy. More importantly, he also is a survivor. Some even feel he still could be competitive against many top fighters, including reigning champions. And just like that, he may be back in the mix with others like Golata, Toney, Danny Williams, the Eastern Europeans, Peter, Rahman, Tua, etc.
What do you think?
Ted Sares is the author of Boxing is my Sanctuary. Check out his site at www.tedsares.com
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