American heavyweight still looms large

ruizLAS VEGAS (June 19, 2007) – Media critics who bashed him unmercifully for years won’t admit it. Fans that trashed him don’t want to hear it, either. But American media members and fans alike do agree, in terms of their constant complaints that, today all of the major world heavyweight champions – IBF Wladimir Klitschko, WBA Ruslan Chagaev, WBC Oleg Maskaev, and WBO Sultan Ibragimov – are from Soviet bloc nations. Where are the American heavyweight hopefuls, they ask? Better, yet, which American has the best chance of bringing a world title belt back to America?

Underachieving Shannon Briggs? Out-of-shape Hasim Rahman? An exposed Calvin Brock? Juiced-up James Toney?

Take the anonymously referred to fighter’s name out of the equation, as well as his awkward and unappreciated style, and go strictly by the facts:

§ The first responsibility of a boxer is to win and _____ has won 41 of 50 fights (7 losses, 1 draw and 1 no contest), including two WBA heavyweight titles and five world title fights against the likes of Evander Holyfield, Kirk Johnson, Hasim Rahman, Fred Oquendo and Andrew Golota.

§ In addition to judging a fighter by who he has beaten, many gauge success in the squared circle by who a fighter’s losses have been to and five of _____’s defeats have been at the hands, or gloves, of world champions Roy Jones, Jr., Evander Holyfield, Ruslan Chagaev, Nikolay Valuev, and world title contender David Tua.

§ _____ has beaten three world champions: Holyfield, Rahman and Tony Tucker.

§ Never one to back down from a fight, ________ fought all of the top heavyweights that would step in the ring with him since he turned pro in 1992. Lennox Lewis threw his title belt away rather than fight ___________, the WBA mandatory contender at the time, and Vitali Klitschko retired after saying nyet to numerous offers from _________ for a unification bout.

Like it or not, fans, fill in the aforementioned blanks with the worthy name of John “The Quietman” Ruiz (41-7-1, 28 KOs).

All he did was win, as ugly as many of his fights may have been. The sad part was Ruiz’ last two fights, against present WBA champion Chagaev (117-117, 115-114, 112-116) and former WBA title-holder Valuev, were Ruiz’ two most exciting fights in years, since he beat Holyfield for his first world title belt in 2001, but neither was televised in the United States.

“I’m not bitter by all of the negativity,” 35-year-old Ruiz said. “I only took it as a sign to get better and that was the reason I made changes in my camp and got a new trainer (Manny Siaca, Sr.). I think the changes showed in my last two fights. I was robbed against Valuev (114-116, 114-114, 113-116) and lost a split decision to Chagaev in his hometown.

”I look forward to bringing the world heavyweight title belt back to the United States. I’m waving my white flag to the public and reporters to let them know this is a new beginning for me. I hope they join me in my rise to bring home the belt.”

Article posted on 20.06.2007

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