Ruiz vs. Valuev: What!?! No live coverage!?!

13.12.05 - By Gabriel DeCrease: For years I have endured the torture of John Ruiz fights being peddled as main events on major network broadcasts. Despite heavy criticism from boxing fans worldwide, every time Ruiz lined up a patsy to hug, slap, and prance away from, a prime time showcase was being held open to serve as a stage for “The Quiet Man’s” theater of ignominy..

And now, the one fight I would actually want to see him in, against Nicolay Valuev, will not be broadcast domestically or internationally. The first time I saw Ruiz on television in 1996 he was knocked out so viciously by David Tua that I imagined I he might never step into a boxing ring again. The punch was a career-ender, and it landed less than thirty-seconds into the first round.

However, Ruiz would have his vengeance. Five-years later I watched him amble to a deliriously boring draw with Evander Holyfield in which the already-haggard Holyfield could not do any better than to meet Ruiz halfway on the road to a hug-happy, uncoordinated, tentative tangle of a prize fight.

He went on to put me to sleep in his disqualification win over Kirk Johnson. Both men looked shabby and somewhat like they had been fed sleeping pills shortly before the fight. I know I felt like I had taken a few myself as I watched them pose and posture like sacks of human sludge for ten-rounds.

There was also John’s embarrassing loss to former middleweight king, Roy Jones, which was watchable, if not exciting. Jones was aging and further slowed by the additional weight he put on to meet Ruiz as a heavyweight. And then John’s second humiliating defeat at the hands of a former middleweight champion. An out-of-condition James Toney took it to Ruiz much in the same way Jones did, but more lethargically so, on his way to a unanimous decision win. Both fights ended up being anti-climactic, in my estimation, and seemed to be cursed by the lagging, aimlessness that haunts virtually all John Ruiz fights.

Ruiz’s unanimous decision win over the insipid Andrew Golota was sold as part of a highly-disappointing pay-per-view card. The fight was the crown jewel on the crown of garbage that was built in an evening of lame heavyweight action. Both Ruiz and Golota repeatedly reminded the viewing-public that they are two bottom-rung fighters kept in the ring by corrupt promoters who are so utterly out-of-touch with the sensibilities of boxing fans.

After Toney’s victory over Ruiz was overturned when Toney controversially tested positive for banned-substances in post-fight blood-screening, Ruiz rescinded his short-lived retirement and threw his hat back into the ring despite protests from fight fans all over the world. Now Ruiz finds himself in a fight with Russian-goliath Nicolay Valuev, and for the first-time I am really interested in watching “The Quiet Man” fight.

Ruiz has proven, time-and-again, that he can make handspeed, raw athleticism, and technical acumen look boring in his opponents, even when he loses to them. He accomplishes this by smothering and dodging his opponents and forcing long stalemates. He has done this to every type of opponent except one: a freakishly large one. Valuev stands somewhere between seven-foot and seven-foot-four, depending on the source, and weighs well over three-hundred-pounds. The Russian brings sideshow appeal to the fight on his own, and I cannot help but be endlessly curious to see how Ruiz intends to clich and slip a guy with such a drastic size-advantage. Ruiz would very nearly be hugging Nicolay’s leg.

The fight will not be legendary, perhaps not even a respectable bout. But it will be a spectacle of wonders in which Ruiz may well be flattened and thereby escorted once-and-for-all from the ring. After all the wasted hours spent watching Ruiz do his insidious thing, I am even more attracted to the fight with Valuev. The public would, no doubt, be utterly fascinated by the chance to see a hulking, ogre-esque Russian fighter stomp around a prime time broadcast looking to smash a terrified, clinching, slapping, running titleholder. The fourth film in the Rocky series did not give its audience any footage of Ivan Drago fighting before his showdown with Rocky Balboa. In this late Ruiz debacle we have the chance to see that much-craved scene, in a manner of speaking.

In all seriousness, this fight should be televised because if the networks were content to force Ruiz on the world for so long, they ought to have the common courtesy to televise what may well be a definitive end to the tragic comedy.

Article posted on 13.12.2005

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