Toney-Ruiz: Look for the "Quiet Man" to come out on top

28.04.05 - By Shane Cullum: Let's assume for a minute that Don King is serious about this whole heavyweight unification idea. If that's the case, then I hate to say it, but I just might be rooting for John Ruiz to beat james Toney this Saturday. Not because I like him as a boxer, but because I'm looking out for the best interests of the heavyweight division. Let's assume that the winner of Toney-Ruiz will fight Chris Byrd sometime in September or October.. I can't help but think that Byrd would duck, weave, and bob his way to a unanimous decision against Toney, should Toney beat Ruiz on April 30.

Toney is certainly a stronger puncher than Byrd (pretty much any heavyweight alive is), but Byrd carries his weight as a heavyweight much better than Toney, and I doubt that Toney would be able to connect any damaging punches against Byrd. It would be a counterpunch race, and my money would be on Byrd coming out ahead. Ruiz vs. Byrd, should Ruiz beat Toney, would probably go down in the record books as one of the ugliest, most boring heavyweight fights in the history of boxing.

And while I'm sure it would be similar to Byrd-Golota, with the bigger man lumbering around the ring trying to keep up with Byrd, and Byrd ducking half of the big man's punches, it just might be possible for Ruiz to pull off the win. Especially with Ruiz's clutching techniques, he might be able to pin up Byrd against the ropes, and land more effective shots than Golota was able to land. It would be an ugly fight, like I said, and their different fighting styles would definitely not be compatible.

But whereas Ruiz has the power, and therefore a chance, to KO Byrd, the same can't be said for Byrd knocking out Ruiz. I still see it going all 12 rounds, but I think Ruiz would win the decision, albeit closely. The good thing about a Ruiz-Byrd fight would be that, assuming it's not a draw, at least one of them would be guaranteed to be stripped of their belt; something which each of them should have had happen to them many times over. And then let's just assume that the winner of the fight aginst Byrd fights the winner of Brewster-Golota or Klitschko-Rahman in the spring of 2006.

Theoretically, if the unification chain of events takes place as I'd hope it would, a Toney win this Saturday could cause Byrd to retain his championship belt up until next spring, when Byrd would fight Golota or Klitschko. A Ruiz win on Saturday could mean that Byrd loses his title as early as this September. In an ideal heavyweight world, neither Byrd nor Ruiz would hold heavyweight titles. But if one of them must be labelled "champ" until next spring, I would personally rather see Ruiz with the belt strapped around his waist.

As boring as his style is, as excessive as his holding is, he at least could be given credit for MAYBE beating Oquendo and putting up a good fight against Golota in his last two fights, and he could at least be given credit for being willing to fight any heavyweight around (he's even called out Vitali). Byrd, however, should have lost his last two fights aginst Oquendo and Golota. The Golota fight was close, but Golota should have had the decision. Byrd-Oquendo should go down in the history books as one of the most unfair decisions in the history of boxing.

I know of nobody who legitimately thinks Byrd won that fight, besides the judges who were scoring it. On top of his two most recent "losses," Byrd picks and chooses his opponents in a manner unbefitting a heavyweight champion, even ducking Wladimir Klitschko recently in an attempt to fight Monte Barrett. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and at least Ruiz comes close. If a Ruiz win against Toney on April 30 means a Byrd loss this fall, then so be it.

Article posted on 28.04.2005

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