The Quiet Man Speaks Out Loud

By Doveed Linder: Last week, former two-time heavyweight champion John ďThe Quiet ManĒ Ruiz (43-8-1, 29 KOs) released a letter to Americaís ďtopĒ heavyweight boxers, challenging them to get in the ring with him. The names he mentioned were Chris Arreola, Eddie Chambers, Kevin Johnson, and Brian Minto. Even though Ruiz is currently the WBA mandatory title challenger and is in line to face the winner of Chagaev-Valuev II, he is willing to risk that position if any of the above fighters cares to take him up on his challenge. Ruiz has apparently read a lot of press that he is not worthy of this title shot, so he is willing to step into the ring with any of these young up-and-comers to prove that he is one of the divisionís best..

John Ruizí fights arenít known for being the most entertaining events on the planet. They are often ugly affairs that leave fans booing and shifting in their seats. Just the mention of the name ďJohn RuizĒ has a tendency to make some fans irate. But even though his style isnít pleasing to the eye and he doesnít necessarily provide the fans with what they want in a heavyweight contest, it canít be denied that he has accomplished more inside the ring than most of the top heavyweights today.

John Ruizís first fight of great significance came against Evander Holyfield in August of 2000. This was for the vacant WBA championship. At the time, Ruiz was best known for getting blown away by David Tua in 19 seconds. Most people believed that Ruiz got this title shot because of a ranking that was manufactured by Don King, so that Holyfield could become the first 4-time heavyweight champion in history. To the surprise of many, Ruiz put up a good fight and seemed to out-work Holyfield over the course of 12 rounds. Holyfield was awarded the victory, but the popular opinion was that Ruiz deserved the decision, so a rematch was in order.

In the rematch, Ruiz out-worked Holyfield once again and even dropped him in the 11th round. This time, the decision went to Ruiz and he became the first Latino in history to win a heavyweight championship. Ruiz and Holyfield met for a third time nine months later in a fight that was ruled a draw. Many actually felt that Holyfield deserved the decision this time, but Ruiz remained the champion.

Next up for Ruiz was a bout against Kirk Johnson that he won via disqualification, though he dropped Johnson at one point in the bout and appeared to have him hurt. After the fight with Johnson, Ruiz faced Roy Jones, Jr who had just made the move up from light heavyweight. At the time, Jones was considered by many to be the best fighter in the world. Ruiz was dominated throughout the fight and lost via unanimous decision.

Ruiz bounced back from the Jones fight with wins over Hasim Rahman, Fres Oquendo, and Andrew Golota. He then faced James Toney and suffered a fate that was not dissimilar to the dismantling that came at the hands of Roy Jones, Jr., though the fight was ruled a no contest because Toney failed a drug test. Following the bout with Toney, Ruiz lost a decision to Nikolay Valuev in a fight that many believed he won. He then faced Ruslan Chagaev and lost a split decision and followed that up with a 2nd round TKO over Otis Tisdale and a unanimous decision over Jameel McCline. Ruizí most recent fight was in August of last year, which was a rematch with Nikolay Valuev where he lost a split decision. Just like the first fight with Valuev, some will make the argument that Ruiz deserved the victory.

Ruiz is a tough and rugged fighter, but his athletic ability is very limited. He has good power and decent hand speed, but no finesse whatsoever. His reflexes and agility leave much to be desired and he doesnít seem to see punches coming very well. And even when he does see the punches coming, thereís not much he can do about it. Itís probably fair to say that he trains hard for his fights, but for someone whoís supposedly in shape, his endurance doesnít seem to allow him to fight effectively for 12 complete rounds.

With his limited arsenal, Ruiz has developed an ugly style that has helped him defeat most of the opponents he has faced as a professional. He wrestles and hugs and stalls the clock and has a way of bringing his opponents down to his level. He takes them out of their game and somehow manages to out-work them over the course of the fight, unless he catches them with a sneaky right hand in the later rounds. Ruiz doesnít have a physical make-up that allows him to stick and move and slip and slide and do the things that most skilled fighters do. And itís likely that if he didnít fight the way he did, he would be totally ineffective.

When a fighter is knocked out in 19 seconds, it usually means the end of their career. But for Ruiz, the devastating loss to David Tua proved to be the beginning. Since that time, he won the WBA championship on two occasions and built up a resume that is even more impressive than that of the man who handed him his most crushing defeat. Heís done much better in this game than most people ever expected and even some of his harshest critics have developed a grudging respect for him.

Calling out these young heavyweights and showing a willingness to put his title shot on the line was a bold and ambitious move by Ruiz. He has always been defiant by nature and to this day no one has been able to shut his mouth. Between all of the up-and-comers in the heavyweight division, there are a lot of unanswered questions and Ruiz might just be the man to set the record straight. Itís unreasonable to think that Ruiz could be competitive with a Klitschko or any other heavyweight on an elite level, but he may very well make for a decent gatekeeper. It might be fair to say that if a heavyweight is able to defeat Ruiz, they are worthy of a title shot and if they lose to him itís clear that they are not. Although his fights arenít especially enjoyable to watch, thereís a place in the heavyweight division for fighters like John Ruiz who are willing to take on the best and let the public know just how good these new fighters are.

Article posted on 12.05.2009

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