30.04.05 – By Mike Indri:, Retired Boxers Foundation: All the talk is how James “Lights Out” Toney is going to bring change – much needed and much desired change, to boxing’s heavyweight division. Stymied by the lack of an Ali, Frazier, Holmes-type champion, a supposed lack of newer, younger, more energetic and talented prospects, and enough sanctioning bodies for everyone to claim a stake at being called a champion:
WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF, (AEIOU and sometimes Y and W); the heavyweight division is now devoid of the charisma and respect that boxing’s most honored and revered division has always earned. James Toney (68-4-2, 43 KO’s) is a great fighter – if you don’t believe it, just ask him. A three-time world champion, Toney is blessed with more natural boxing ability than practically any fighter who has ever entered the squared circle.
The former middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight world champion is looking to make history tonight in the most historic boxing venue of all, Madison Square Garden.
“I’ll be the third fighter to win championships going from middleweight to heavyweight,” stated the outspoken Michigan native, who added “but I’m making history by being the first to do it by knockout, and I will knockout John Ruiz!”
(Only Bob Fitzsimmons and Roy Jones, Jr. have accomplished this feat).
One of boxing’s brightest stars during the early 1990’s, Toney is a true old-school fighter and would have shined during any era. On everyone’s “Pound for Pound” best list and a future Hall-of-Famer , the brash and arrogant Toney has twice been honored by the Boxing Writer’s Association of America (BWAA) as their “Fighter of the Year”.
Everything that James Toney is – John Ruiz is not.
John Ruiz will never make anyone’s “pound for pound” list, hasn’t even been mentioned for any type of boxing award, and has yet to garner the attention or respect from the boxing public. Suffice to say, coming into tonight’s bout, Ruiz is a 2-1 underdog.
Ruiz doesn’t curse and scream at press conferences, he doesn’t degrade fellow boxers and he has no need for flash, for bling, or for talking smack.
You can call John Ruiz whatever you want – good or bad, but you must also call him “World Champion”. Two-time World Champion, actually.
All John Ruiz (41-5-1, 28 KO’s) does is win.
Beating Evander Holyfield (when he was still the “Real-Deal”), Kirk Johnson, Hasim Rahman, Fres Oquendo and Andrew Golota has brought riches and titles – but no respect. “I’m used to that,” sighed the likable Ruiz.
The Chelsea, Mass. native now living in Las Vegas, added “All these guys I beat where supposed to be the next heavyweight champion. I beat them, then they downplay these guys.”
During the final press conference this past Wednesday, both fighters were seated next to posters of the Ali-Frazier I fight, Willis Reed during the ’69 Knicks championship and the ’94 Stanley Cup Rangers…all Madison Square Garden achievements attributed to the heart and soul of true champions.
John Ruiz is a true champion. At a well-conditioned 241 lbs., Ruiz has come ready to defend his World Boxing Association championship belt.
For all his cursing, his “this one’s mother – that one’s sister” talk, and all his promises, James Toney did not come ready to fight for a championship.
For all his talk you would think that James Toney is the champion, instead of the challenger. At his scaled weight of 233 lbs, his heaviest weight ever, Toney is making the same mistake as the boxing public – not respecting John Ruiz!
Growing up I was told that empty cans make the most noise, I’m sure that John Ruiz was told the same thing.
John Ruiz will retain his WBA heavyweight championship tonight. It probably won’t be pretty or exciting – and it probably won’t last the entire scheduled twelve rounds, but Ruiz will leave Madison Square Garden with his title, and hopefully a little respect.
Tickets are still available for this nine-bout Don King Productions, in association with Goosen/Tutor Promotions, fight card and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office and at all TicketMaster locations or by calling TicketMaster at (212) 307-7171, (201) 507-8900 or (914) 454-3388.
HBO will broadcast the Ruiz vs. Toney fight live beginning at 10PM (EST.).