Boxing


In defense of Ruiz, and a frontal assault on Toney

04.11.05 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: Anybody who reads my stuff knows that I pour dirt and stomp on poor John Ruiz every chance I get. Logically speaking, his recent decision to take “Lights Out” Toney to court would make most think that it is a great source of fuel for me to ridicule the “quiet man.” Now, although in recent times, John Ruiz has had trouble shutting up, which kind of makes his nickname a bit untrue, consider the difference in regards to where it counts between Toney and Ruiz, and that is in the ring.

John Ruiz has agreed to fight Nicolai Valuev, an undefeated giant of a fighter, who is going on his 4th fight in 2005, and probably has the best six fight win streak in the heavyweight division. It doesn’t matter that Ruiz and James Toney are having a little lover’s quarrel or that Ruiz’s style is pathetic and ugly in the ring, based on what I see, because in terms of what have you done for me lately, Ruiz is at least trying to pay his dues to boxing. I repeat, John Ruiz is fighting his worthy number one contender (at least in terms of fulfilling his obligations to become #1 contender), while James Toney is rumored to be fighting who? Chris Byrd? Vitali Klitschko? Lamon Brewster? No, Folks, James is rumored to be fighting none other then Rob Calloway!

I’ll allow everyone a moment or two to laugh their backsides off, and then ask why in the heck would anybody in their right mind, especially a top contender like James Toney, be fighting a guy like this? Yes, Toney is unquestionably a top contender, I can’t deny that. With the way things are in the division (jeez, how many times will the writers and fans have to repeat this old line, anyway?) a man like Toney, who keeps winning, is a top contender by default. However, being a top contender doesn’t mean he gets to fight whoever he damn well pleases. I mean, in one sense, yes, Toney can fight Marion Wilson, or Ross Purrity, or Eric Esch, or whoever he wants, yet how can he then expect fans to cheer him on after that? Especially when he is the one that claims he will fight anybody anytime anywhere etc. etc. Usually, when people say that, I just assume they mean they will fight the best fighters not the mediocre brand.

I won’t lie; When I saw Toney dismantle Dominic Guinn, who I personally consider to be a hype job, it was thrilling and exciting to see, and it was also even better because Toney promised us that he would fight often and against good competition. Well, he looks like he will fight often, but I would re-examine that second bit about good competition. Rob Calloway has been knocked out every single time he has stepped up against good competition, from my perspective. I've seen this guy once against Ruslan Chagaev, and that was enough to realize that he is simply not elite, or at the very least, even close to it. Chagaev, at the time, sporting only five professional fights, did some number on Calloway, who was seconds away from being stopped on his feet before being saved on a technicality of an earlier head butt. Now, if a guy like Chagaev, and Audley Harrison, who both had less then 10 pro fights each at the time, were able to get this 60+ fights “prizefighter” out of there in under 4 rounds, can people see what might happen against Toney?

The Toney fans claim this is a “stay busy” fight and it doesn’t matter because he has agreed to fight Chris Byrd in January. I would like to ask where the proof for this is? When Rahman claimed he would fight the elder Klitschko within six weeks of his “fabulous” war with Monte Barrett, most of us knew it was a pipe dream, and sure enough, it was. Rahman even had a nice excuse built in because of the cut. Does anybody doubt that the same thing will happen here? I could be wrong, of course, but from a financial standpoint, and probably to a lesser degree a physical one, nobody would put on Byrd vs. Toney a few weeks after the rumored Toney vs. Calloway, showdown, its just improbable, in my opinion.

Then there is the hidden danger of an injury, two of which James has suffered in the past couple of years. The first one he suffered in training for the Jameel McCline fight, and the other in his bout with Rydell Booker. The problem, as I see it, is if he suffers an injury against Calloway in the ring, he is at risk of losing, as well as having to recuperate afterwards. Also, it's possible that if he gets cut, he would require time to heal and would have to be out of the ring, as per the guidelines of most athletic commissions. However, If he gets injured in training, he has more control over what he does, where as in the ring, the danger is greater, seeing as its unlikely Toney would ever quit.

What most are also forgetting is that the Guinn fight was Toney’s tune up and his Mack Truck motor was revving just fine. There is simply no need for him to beat up on poor Calloway. That is, if that fight does come to fruition. The fans don’t want it, Byrd seems like he doesn’t want to wait, and it also holds up a potentially great match up. The best alternative would be to scrap that fight and focus on a showdown with Byrd. However, that is just one fan’s honest opinion. If the quality of the tune up changes to somebody who won’t be there, just to make Toney look good, it is a different topic but not Rob Calloway, please.

Getting back to defending Ruiz, though, the whole deal with the lawsuit is really absolutely hilarious. First, these guys, Toney and Ruiz, meet in the ring, and Ruiz gets spanked and walks off almost in tears, which honestly did sadden me a bit. It all changes so soon when the steroid result is announced and Ruiz returns with a vengeance spewing his self-righteous indignation. Still, though, what can you say about the guy? He may act like a a villain at times, but it didn’t take long after the Valuev-Donald fight for him to agree to take on his number one contender in Germany. Just comparing this with Toney’s decision is remarkable. The less popular of the two guys, in my opinion, Ruiz, makes the right and popular choice, while the fan favorite, Toney, does exactly the opposite based on the recent rumors that have been circulating around.

The issue of roids and Toney take a backseat to the fact that John Ruiz is not wasting the fan’s time with Kevin Mcbride, or inactivity. As far as whether or not Toney should have been stripped, I am with Ruiz on that one. Yes, I don’t think the steroids affected Toney’s performance that night, but that still doesn’t mean he didn’t do anything wrong. Did John Ruiz break the rules that night? No, for once, he fought clean in and out of the ring. Whether or not Toney blames the doctor, he still made the mistake of assuming “the drugs were out of his system” or that “nobody would know.” The rules are clear to see and Toney was in violation of them; End of story. Rather than making public statements, when all is said and done with Valuev or whoever Toney decides to take on, these two (Ruiz & Toney) should just fight again, which is the only way to settle this whole thing. Until then, Ruiz has the upper hand, because he is willing to be a “world” champion and defend his title (of course, the money he will get for the fight is an added incentive), while Toney is mocking him, in his public statements, for “fighting out of the country.” Sorry, James, that is one thing Ruiz is doing right. It almost saddens me to think that Toney would be opposed to defending his belt outside the USA if he still had it.

Article posted on 04.11.2005



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