03.08.04 – In a blockbuster pay-per-view event, John Ruiz and Chris Byrd will defend their heavyweight titles against top contenders Andrew Golota and Jameel McCline, respectively, super flyweight champions Mark Johnson and Luis Perez will collide in a unification world title fight and former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman will box a 10-round bout against an opponent to be determined on Saturday. Nov. 13. Among those being considered for “The Rock’’ include four-time heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield and top contenders James Toney, Fres Oquendo and Lance Whitaker. Rahman or Toney could also meet the winner of the Sept. 4 WBO heavyweight title fight between Lamon Brewster and Kali Meehan on Nov. 13.
The fight card will be promoted by Don King Productions and distributed domestically and internationally by “KingVision.” The pay-per-view telecast will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
The site has not been finalized, but several places have expressed keen interest in hosting the event. Don King, as always, is thinking global.
Are you ready for a fight card in Saudi Arabia or Dubai?
“I am seriously considering taking boxing back to the world, just like I did with The Rumble in The Jungle in Zaire with Muhammad Ali and George Foreman and The Thrilla in Manila with Ali and Joe Frazier,” the legendary promoter said. “This fight could wind up in Saudi Arabia, which would be a first, or Dubai. Both are extremely enthusiastic and very serious about staging a heavyweight title fight.
“Then, domestically, there also has been a lot of interest, especially from several hotels in Las Vegas, including Caesars Palace, which I would love to help regain its glory, and Mandalay Bay and The MGM Grand. The legendary Mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden, in New York is also very interested..’’
No matter where the sensational fight card winds up, the biggest winners will be the fans.
“This is the kind of pay-per-view fight card fans deserve to see,” King said. “Four pick ‘em fights. Two heavyweight championship fights. There is a wonderful world title fight between two of boxing’s most talented biggest little men. Then, we have a former world champion trying to get one more shot at glory.
“It’s put up or shut up for all of them. Nobody’s in easy. This is as exciting as it gets. I am excited already. I can’t wait to see this one.”
Ruiz (40-5-1, 28 KOs), of Methuen, Mass., is a two-time World Boxing Association (WBA) champion. “The Quietman’’ became the first Hispanic to capture the heavyweight world championship when he registered an upset 12-round decision over Holyfield on Aug. 12, 2000. A tough, old school fighter who has never backed down from a challenge, Ruiz made two successful defenses before losing a 12-round nod to Roy Jones Jr. on March 1, 2003. Ruiz regained the WBA title with a 12-round decision over Rahman on Dec. 13, 2003. In his lone defense in his second stint as champion, Ruiz scored an impressive 11th-round TKO over Fres Oquendo on April 17, 2004.
Golota (38-4-1, 31 KOs), of Warsaw, Poland, is making his first start since boxing Byrd to a disputed 12-round draw on April 17, 2004. The talented and controversial Golota produced a career-best performance in a fight many felt he won. The draw snapped a four-fight winning streak for the WBA’s No. 5 contender, who was making his third start since a bout with Mike Tyson on Oct. 20, 2000, ended in a third-round no-contest. Golota’s last loss came against Michael Grant on a 10th-round TKO on Nov. 20, 1999. Golota floored Grant twice in the first round and was well ahead on points going into the final round but could not hold on. Two of his defeats came on disqualifications to Riddick Bowe in title fights that Golota was clearly winning.
Byrd (37-2-1, 20 KOs), of Flint, Mich., is one of the division’s
most avoided and feared boxers. The slick southpaw, who won the International Boxing Federation (IBF) crown with a 12-round decision over Holyfield on Dec. 14, 2002, is making his third defense. Before the draw with Golota, Byrd retained his title with a crowd-pleasing, hard-fought 12-round decision over Oquendo on Sept. 20, 2003. Byrd is a former WBO heavyweight champion. He won that belt with a ninth-round TKO over Vitali Klitschko on April 1, 2000. In his first defense the following Oct. 14, he dropped a 12-round decision to Vitali’s brother, Wladimir. After turning pro on Jan. 28, 1993, Byrd went unbeaten for more than six years. A 26-fight winning streak ended when he suffered his first loss on a fifth-round TKO to Ibeabuchi on March 20, 1999.
McCline (31-3-3, 19 KOs), of Port Jefferson, N.Y., is, at No. 3, the IBF’s highest-rated heavyweight contender. A winner of three straight by knockout, including a first-round TKO over Wayne Lllewellyn, McCline has never been better. In his outing before last, he recorded a dramatic 10th-round TKO over previously undefeated Cedric Boswell on Oct. 3, 2003. McCline trailed on the three judges’ scorecards when the bout was stopped at 2:07 of the final round. In his other appearance in a world title fight, McCline lost to then-WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko on a 10th-round TKO on Dec. 7, 2002.
Johnson (44-3, 28 KOs), of Washington, D.C., has long been considered one of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters. A former two-time IBF champion, the dazzling southpaw earned the WBO 115-pound title with a lopsided 12-round decision over defending titlist Fernando Montiel on Aug. 16, 2003. In his lone defense, Johnson registered an impressive fourth-round TKO over Luis Bolano on March 6, 2004. Nicknamed “Too Sharp’’ because he is just that in the ring, Johnson captured the IBF 112-pound crown with a first-round TKO over Francisco Tejedor on May 4, 1996. After seven successful defenses, he stepped up a notch in weight and won the IBF junior bantamweight belt with a 12-round decision over Ratanachai Vorapin on April 24, 1999. After losing his second start when, Johnson won 39 straight fights. The lengthy winning streak ended when Johnson came up on the wrong end of a 10-round split decision to bantamweight Rafael Marquez on Oct. 6, 2001. The bigger, stronger Marquez also won the rematch on Feb. 23, 2002.
Perez (22-1, 14 KOs), of Managua, Nicaragua, is making the second defense of the IBF title he won on a 12-round split decision over Felix Machado on Jan. 4, 2003. In his last start and lone defense on Dec. 13, 2003, the talented Perez outpointed Machado again, this time on a unanimous decision. A determined youngster who can box or punch, Perez has won seven consecutive starts. His only loss came in his 16th outing when he lost a 12-round decision to Vernie Flores in a bout for the WBO Intercontinental 115-pound title on Sept. 7, 2000.
Rahman (39-5-1, 32 KOs), of Baltimore, MD shocked the world on April 22, 2001, when his big, powerful, picture-perfect right hand met the jaw of then heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. Thirty-two seconds into the fifth round, Lewis was counted out and Rahman became heavyweight champion of the world, winning the WBC, IBF & IBO titles. It was Lewis’ 15th world title fight and Rahman’s first, but Rock’s “one punch, just one punch,” was heard around the world, before a rematch loss to Lewis the following November 17. Following the defeat to Lewis, he went 0-2-1. He dropped an eighth-round technical decision to Holyfield, boxed a disputed draw with Tua, and lost a decision to Ruiz. Since the points loss to Ruiz in a bout for the WBA title, Rahman has won four straight fights in 2004, including the last three by knockout, all inside two rounds.