Rugged former belt holder John Ruiz is arguably the most criticised heavyweight of his generation despite twice being the possessor of a world championship belt and holding victories over Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Andrew Golota. True his victory over the giant Pole was widely considered contentious but I think a little respect for Ruiz’s willingness to engage with tough opponents and overcome the humiliation of his defeats to Roy Jones and David Tua to compile a mixed but worthy record is overdue.
Largely, his lack of box-office appeal is due to an ungainly, grappling style but so stubborn is Ruiz both within and outside the ring that the accumulation of seven defeats, including back to back reverses to Nicolay Valuev – though I maintain he came closer than any who preceded him in outsmarting the towering Russian – and Ruslan Chagaev have failed to deter the game contender.
Now with the leading contenders showing an increasing willingness to tackle each other, Ruiz is chasing the former WBO champion Serguei Liakhovich. The Belarussian has yet to put his name on the contract for Saturday’s fight and with the proximity of the date one wonders whether Liakhovich would be able to find the focus for the bout. Ruiz claims negotiations have been on going since mid-September so any notion of a lack of preparation is something of a ruse. As always Ruiz is eager to get a fellow contender in the ring to regain momentum in his fluctuating career.
Ruiz waiting on Liakhovich
SAN JUAN (October 9, 2007) – Two-time WBA heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz (41-7-1, 28 KOs) is disappointed that former WBO title-holder Serguei “White Wolf” Liakhovich (23-2, 14 KOs), rated No. 2 by the WBA, hasn’t signed a contract to fight him Saturday night in Chicago.
Ruiz’ legal advisor, attorney Anthony Cardinale, noted that the WBA No. 3 rated Ruiz and Liakhovich first learned about their Oct. 13th fight in mid-September, negotiations continued for weeks, and both fighters received the revised bout agreement on October 1.
“We’ve heard that they’re claiming there wasn’t enough time to fight me,” said Ruiz who signed his contract Oct. 3. “We both learned at the same time and I signed to fight him. If he doesn’t sign to fight me on Saturday, we will petition the WBA to drop him from the No. 2 spot and move me up to that position. I also plan on fighting Saturday in Chicago against Liakhovich, if he signs the contract or another suitable opponent if he doesn’t.”