31.03.05 – By Jim Amato: It has to happen. The time has finally come. The long and boring title tenure of John Ruiz is about to end. On April 30th in New York’s Madison Square Garden, Ruiz will take on James Toney. The WBA heavyweight title that Ruiz has held for several unexciting years will be on the line.. Except for a short period of time after Roy Jones Jr. slapped him silly and “borrowed” the title, Ruiz has claimed to be king. Roy decided to give up the “title” to return to the light heavyweight division. Ruiz was able to again “reclaim” the championship.
During the time that Ruiz has claimed a piece of the heavyweight pie has anyone really taken him seriously? Was Ruiz ever really acclaimed to be the best heavyweight in the world? It is very, very doubtful. Honestly, does anyone really think that Ruiz could have defeated Lennox Lewis or Vitali Klitschko? Heck, even the speedy but light hitting Chris Byrd is probably held in higher regard than Ruiz.
John Ruiz has a chance to change all the conceptions and opinions of him come April 30th. James Toney is a former middleweight and super middleweight champion and a long time light heavyweight contender. He also held the cruiserweight title after defeating Vassily Jirov in a highly entertaining bout. James cracked the heavyweight ranks by giving the great Evander Holyfield a thrashing that “Iron” Mike Tyson could only dream of inflicting upon Evander. Ruiz refers to Toney as a middleweight. Hey John, I got a news flash for you, Toney is a legit threat to your title!
Why do I not see Ruiz winning this fight? Simple. He will be in with a master boxer. A true artist of his trade. I took me years to really appriciate the style and talent of James Toney. All I see is an awkwardly aggressive Ruiz coming forward trying to intimidate Toney and force the action. As hard as Ruiz will try, all he will really connect with are arms and shoulders. Meanwhile, a patient and observing Toney will see openings for his vaunted counterpunches. In the time it takes to say “ouch”, Toney will have set the tempo for the fight. Needless to say, I can’t see him relinquishing it.
There will be times when Ruiz will trap Toney on ropes and flail away. Toney will take a few shots but avoid the majority of the onslaught. However, Toney will then proceed to put on a counterpunching clinic, which will likely cause Ruiz’s output to drop to almost zero. If John Ruiz is nothing else, he is courageous. He will take his punishment like a man, and as the bout continues, he will be taking it in large doses. I see Toney battering Ruiz around the ring in the later rounds before finally a merciful referee will jump in to save Ruiz from further punishment and us fans from a further Ruiz reign.