Rahman vs. Ruiz: Should Be Title Elimination Instead of Title Bout

12.12.03 - By Frank Lotierzo: This Saturday night December 13th, I'm going to attend the Don King fight card in Atlantic city, "Back-to-Back-to-Back". The card features three main title fights. Although there are four or five other fights on the card with some kind of title on the line, the main fights being highlighted and promoted are Mayorga-Spinks, Hopkins-Joppy, and Rahman-Ruiz.

The thing about these three main bouts that strikes me is, two of them are significant in their respective divisions. While the other one will probably be the most competitive. The one that appears to be the most evenly matched, (Rahman-Ruiz) should not be for a title?

Obviously the bout featuring WBA-WBC welterweight champ Ricardo Mayorga and IBF champ Cory Spinks will determine the true king of the welterweights. Although, most probably feel Mayorga is the top of the food chain among the welters. Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins is the established king of the middleweights. His bout against William Joppy who currently holds the WBA title, which is a joke, is definitely a contest between two of the best 160 pounders in the world. However, going into this fight, there is no question that Hopkins is the man among the middles, despite Joppy being a three time champ and current belt holder.

The Mayorga-Spinks and Hopkins-Joppy fights are for undisputed titles, but I see them as being one sided going in. Mayorga is just too strong and tough for Spinks. Spinks is a good boxer, but against Mayorga he'll have a tough time boxing. He'll most likely be forced to fight, which is right up Mayorga's alley. In the Hopkins-Joppy fight, Hopkins is just too strong and complete for Joppy. Yes, Hopkins is getting up there in age, especially for a fighter below heavyweight. However, Joppy is not a youngster either at 33. Most are waiting for the night Hopkins shows up an empty package. No doubt that night is out there and can show up at anytime unannounced, but I doubt it will be versus Joppy.

The fight I don't know what to make of is the bout between former heavyweight title holders Hasim Rahman and John Ruiz. The bout between Rahman and Ruiz is being dubbed as the WBA Interim Championship. This means that the winner will become a two time heavyweight title holder, at least on paper. I think this fight represents one of boxings major problems, too many titles and title fights. The only positive thing about this fight is that it will probably be the most evenly contested fight of the major three highlighting the card.

Shouldn't this fight be more of an elimination for a title than for a title? The winner will hold one of the three major titles in boxing, despite him not being one of the top five or six heavyweight's in the world. I love fighters and respect them more than any other athletes in the world. So believe me, it pains me to take a shot at either one of them. That being said, do either Rahman or Ruiz represent the fighter you think of when hearing the phrase, "Heavyweight Champion of the World?"

Rahman and Ruiz have both accomplished something many fighters better than them have never done, won a piece of the heavyweight title. But neither of them established themselves as world champions. Rahman won the lottery against a horribly prepared Lennox Lewis to capture the title. However, against the other top heavyweights he has faced, he hasn't really shown to be any more than an above average heavyweight. In his fight against Maskaev, he was knocked out of the ring as he was KO'd. He was being taken apart by Corrie Sanders before Sanders ran out of gas and was stopped. He hasn't convincingly shown that he is a better fighter than David Tua, a faded Holyfield handled him, and Lewis demolished him in their rematch.

In the case of John Ruiz, I think it's even more absurd that he's getting another title shot. Ruiz made a career out of fighting a shot Holyfield, hasn't everybody? In the Ruiz-Holyfield fights, I thought Holyfield definitely beat Ruiz in there first and third fights. Ruiz was destroyed by Tua in 19 seconds, and to use an old Ali quote, he looked like a "washerwoman" against Kirk Johnson. In his last fight versus light heavyweight champ Roy Jones, he lost 34 minutes out of a 36 minute fight.

Again, I respect Rahman and Ruiz as fighters and men. I'm glad to see them make some money and gain some notoriety. It's just that I don't think they should be fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world. At this time I don't think either one of them are one of the top five heavyweight's in the world. Thus they shouldn't have the word champion behind their name, which will be the case on Sunday morning December 14th for one of them.

This is a fight, (Rahman-Ruiz) that I don't think many fans were longing to see. It will most likely be sloppy with a lot of holding and clinching. It will not resemble anything close to a fight between two of the world's best fighters! Oh, Rahman drew in his last fight, and Ruiz lost his. Rahman vs. Ruiz would be great if it was two contenders fighting each other to earn another title shot. My problem is that it's for a world title.

Article posted on 12.12.2003

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