John Ruiz-Nikolay Valuev II - Who Wins?

by James Slater - With the unbeaten but oft-injured Ruslan Chagaev temporarily out of the picture (he has been demoted to something the WBA calls "champion in recess"), his scheduled rematch opponent Nikolay Valuev will now face John Ruiz for the vacant belt. This too, will be a rematch, and as soon as Chagaev's Achilles tendon recovers the former champion will be able to challenge whoever it is who holds the WBA strap..

Apparently, according to word on, Chagaev will have until next June to recover and box for the title he never lost in the ring. But who will he likely face - Ruiz or Valuev?

Back in December of 2005, Ruiz was the WBA champion, and on the 17th of the month he made a defence against the unbeaten "Russian Giant." In a very close fight that "The Quiet Man" fully believed he'd won, Valuev was instead awarded a majority verdict in Germany and became the champion. Ruiz has cried robbery ever since. Now, some time before August 31st this year, the 36-year-old Ruiz - a fighter who has simply refused to go away in a fashion his nickname would suggest - will get the opportunity to extract his revenge. For his part, Valuev is happy to be fighting somebody.

After seeing his rematch with the only man to have beaten him fall apart twice, the giant was concerned he'd never get the chance to reclaim his world title. His loss of the WBA belt, like Ruiz' before him, came in a close fight. Chagaev took the belt off the 7.0" colossus by majority decision also. Since then (April of 2007) Valuev has had two fights - a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Jean Francois Bergeron, and one over former WBO heavyweight champ Seguei Lyakhovich - these fights taking place in September of last year and February of this year, respectively. As to Ruiz' recent form, since his two successive losses - to Valuev and then, also on points in Germany to Chagaev - the 36-year-old has won two straight.

After destroying Otis Tisdale in two rounds this past October, in a fight where Ruiz looked to have drastically improved his style to that of an aggressive puncher, Ruiz then went back to his old style in winning a dull decision over Jameel McCline in March of this year. So both men have bounced back reasonably well from their recent defeat - or defeats in the case of Ruiz.

No site has been announced for the rematch, nor has a date been confirmed come to that. But the two WILL clash this year, sometime in the summer. Who wins? At age 34, though he is only two years the younger man, Valuev has a better record on paper than Ruiz. With just one loss and 48 wins, the giant has never taken a damaging beating. Ruiz, now 43-7-1(29) is also a guy who has never really taken a severe beating as a pro (his brutal 1996 1st round KO at the hands of David Tua aside). Sure, he took plenty of shots in his losing fight with Roy Jones Junior, but relatively speaking Ruiz remains a pretty fresh and undamaged fighter. Both men retain genuine ambition.

Don't expect any major fireworks from Valuev-Ruiz II, indeed the fight could well be a dull affair. But look instead for another very close twelve-rounder. I go for Valuev to win in a similarly nip and tuck fashion to how he won the first fight.

Article posted on 04.07.2008

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