Boxing: John Ruiz and loving the wrong man

When consigned to history John Ruiz’ career will be much maligned, it is already. His success and resolve will be overshadowed by the snipers who point to his suffocating, ugly style, a crushing defeat to the then Zeus like David Tua in 17 seconds and a ponderous pursuit of Light-heavyweight Roy Jones Jnr. in 2003. Despite these facts, and they are all facts, his rough-edges and lack of beauty, I just can’t help liking him. It’s a strange thing, attraction.

Ruiz’s status as a leading contender or champion has extended over 10 years since his victory over fringe contender Jimmy Thunder in 1997. Two previous attempts to step up had left him with a split decision loss to rough and ready Danell Nicholson and the aforementioned clash with David Tua’s left hand. In the ensuing decade Ruiz has ignored the critics to record victories over Tony Tucker, Evander Holyfield, Kirk Johnson, Hasim Rahman, Andrew Golota, Fres Oquendo and Jameel McCline interspersed with a highly contentious points defeat to Nikolay Valuev for the WBA heavyweight strap he had previously held twice.

Such was the vitriol he received for his passive role in the Roy Jones fight he fleetingly retired, a defeat to James Toney – later overturned due to Toney’s dalliance with banned substances – also pushed him toward the exit. But each time he has rebounded and perhaps it is in that perseverance that I can push aside the lack of sophistication or blood lust usually associated with my favourite fighters.

I admire his willingness to engage with Valuev in the giant champion’s adopted hometown and his determination to overcome the calamitous effect David Tua had on him as a young prospect. Now, with Ruslan Chagaev suffering more virus problems than Microsoft Windows he’s stepped up again, expressing a desire to tangle with Valuev once more in a bid to win the WBA belt for a third time.

Is it really fair to malign Ruiz so completely? His body of work, despite the grinding methods he employed to build it, is worthy of credit if not applause. There are plenty of American heavyweights, more aesthetically pleasing but lacking in the fortitude Ruiz has repeatedly demonstrated. Where, for example, are Dominic Guinn, Malik Scott, DaVarryl Williamson or Larry Donald? Just a selection of Ruiz’ contemporaries?

Loving the wrong man is a sentiment I usually leave to Dolly Parton or Aretha Franklin, but in John Ruiz’ case I’m prepared to make an exception. He’s ugly, he’s hard to watch but I love him.

Go on John, squeeze the life out of him!

PRESS RELEASE

Ruiz on call and ready to rock
LAS VEGAS (May 7,) – Former two-time WBA heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz has announced that he’s prepared to replace WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev to fight another former WBA title-holder, Nikolay Valuev, for the WBA belt.
Chagaev pulled out of his scheduled mandatory defense against Valuev in May, reportedly due to a cold that forced him to break training, but Ruslan hasn’t made his initial mandatory defense since capturing the WBA belt on April 14, 2007 via a 12-round majority decision versus Valuev. His only title defense was a voluntary fight this past January in a 12-round decision against Matt Skelton. WBA champions are required to make a mandatory defense within a year of winning the belt and/or last mandatory defense. Chagaev is officially over the deadline and seeking further delays.
“We have to respect mandatory defenses and if Chagaev isn’t willing or able to fulfill his obligation as champion,” WBA No. 2 rated Ruiz said, “he should step aside so the WBA can move forward instead of standing still. There’s so much speculation about Chagaev. First there was Hepatitis B and now another viral infection – it must have moved from his intestines to his throat – and nobody really knows when or if he’ll be able to fight again. We will be filing a letter of petition with the WBA to strip Chagaev and order a fight between me and Valuev for the WBA title.”Ruiz is also rated No. 3 by the WBC, No. 6 by the IBF, No. 10 by The Ring magazine, and No. 12 by the WBO.

“The heavyweight division drives boxing,” Ruiz added. “Fans are waiting for things to explode, but it seems like the heavyweight champions are holding the title belts hostage. They’re all tied up and don’t want to fight the best heavyweights. No wonder fans criticize heavyweights. I’m ready to clean-up the division and willing to fight any of the world champs or top contenders. How long do I have to wait for my title shot?”
Ruiz is the first and only Latino heavyweight champion of the world. He has fought in 10 world championship fights and defeated three world heavyweight champions — Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Tony Tucker – as well as top contenders such as Andrew Golota, Fres Oquendo, Kirk Johnson and Jameel McCline during his 15-year pro career.

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