13.11.06 - By Kirk Allen: Former heavyweight champion John Ruiz (41-6-1, 28 KO's) will return to the ring on Saturday night, when he fights Ruslan "White Tyson" Chagaev (21-0-1, 17 KOs) in a WBA elimination bout in Dusseldorf, Germany. The winner of the bout, will be the mandatory challenger for Nikolay Valuev, the WBA heavyweight champion.
Article posted on 14.11.2006
Just last year, in December 2005, Ruiz narrowly lost his WBA heavyweight belt to Valuev, in a controversial majority decision ((scored 114-116, 113-116, and 114-114) loss in Germany. Strangely enough, Ruiz was both the busier fighter and the stronger puncher, often punishing the 7-foot Russian Valuev with combinations and powerful right hand shots.
However, the judges appeared to be more impressed with Valuev's more consistent work in the later rounds of the right, during which time Valuev landed mostly jabs. Since then, Ruiz has been inactive, possibly still upset about his decision loss to Valuev.. Ruiz has since made changes to his training team, gone is Norman Stone, his Manager. In his place is Wilfried Sauerland, the German manager for Nikolay Valuev.
Chagaev, 28, is a short, 6'1" 230 lb., pressure fighter, originally from Uzbekistan, and who throws powerful hooks, often compared to great American fighters from the past, like Tyson and Frazier. However, Chagaev has limited experience, having mainly fought opposition from Europe. Still, though, Chagaev has had an easy time beating them, other than a close call with Vladimir Virchis in March 2006, when Chaegaev was taken the distance before winning a 12-round majority decision.
In his latest bout, Chagaev stopped Michael Sprott in the 8th round, on July 2006. While Chaegaev is short on experience, his awesome power makes him a formidable opponent for the 34-year-old Ruiz, who will likely have problems with Chagaev's busy style and excellent inside fighting ability.
Look for Ruiz to fight in his usual style; that is, two jabs thrown, followed by a clinch. The style, although ugly, is very effective against most heavyweights, especially the slower ones like Chagaev. I see this bout as an easy one for Ruiz, who will nullify Chagaev's inside work by clinching and wrestling him. Clearly, Chagaev is much more smaller heavyweight than Ruiz is accustomed to fighting, which will make Ruiz's wrestling/clinching work that much more easier for him.
Prediction: Ruiz by decision.