18.11.06 - By Scott Frake: Ruslan Chagaev (22-0-1, 17 KO's) won a split decision victory over John Ruiz (41-7-1, 28 KO's), to win the WBA eliminator, thus making Chagaev the mandatory challenger for Nikolay Valuev's WBA heavyweight title. Ruiz attemped to smother Chagaev's power by choosing to fight on the inside, a strategy that was only minimally effective, largely due to Chagaev's excellent inside work.. Chagaev was both the busier fighter and the harder puncher, often landing clean with his powerful left hand, snapping Ruiz's head back time and time again. In the last three rounds, with Ruiz well behind in the fight, he attempted to take the fight to Chagaev.
Article posted on 18.11.2006
However, it was too little, too late. Unfortunately for Ruiz, his punches lacked any real power, and did precious little damage to Chagaev, who was able to walk through them without getting hurt. The final judges scores were 117-111, 116-112 for Chagaev, and 115-114, for Ruiz.
Chagaev, although outworking Ruiz for the most part, hardly looked impressive. At times, he resembled a clumsy club fighter, with little hand speed and slow plodding style of fighting, that resembled Rocky Balboa from the movie "Rocky." I don't particularly like Chagaev's chances against Valuev, who I think will club him into submission within a few rounds. He's just a little too small, slow and plodding to beat someone as big as Valuev, in my opinion. However, he was good enough to beat Ruiz, so I guess he's not all that bad.