By Stuart Cornwell – The ballyhoo artist currently known as David Haye, the clown prince of the heavyweights, is scheduled to grace a boxing ring with his presence on Saturday night at the MEN Arena in Manchester. Opposing him, or at least representing a token of opposition, will be John “The Quiet Man” Ruiz, who looks set to achieve quietude somewhere on the canvas before the twelve rounds are up. Ruiz is a veteran, a notorious spoiler, and reasonably rugged too (knocked out but once in 54 professional outings, aeons ago by a young David Tua, who could really punch), so in theory this could be sold as some sort of test for Haye. But in reality Ruiz fits the bill of an easy mark for Haye, who should make short work of him..
“The Hayemaker” can thank the World Boxing Association for this opportunity to flesh out his KO record and build on his steadily increasing profile, for it is the WBA who regard Mr.Ruiz as the mandatory challenger to Mr.Haye, who they regard as the world champion. Big-time professional boxing is all about the build-up and the ballyhoo, a fact that Haye seems to grasp better than most, and what he’s trying to build up at the moment is an eventual match with one of the Klitschko brothers (most likely Wladimir, who seems to have developed some good old-fashioned hatred for the guy). At the moment any Klitschko-Haye fight would be a reasonably big fight, but with a devastating KO win against Ruiz (suitably violent for pay-per-view promo clips), Haye would help to inflate it towards its full potential as a modern-day mega-promotion. They are heavyweights after all.
The WBA has long had a soft spot for John Ruiz, he’s been their “world champion” twice already. Some of the press covering this fight have duly noted he’ll be attempting to become only the third man (John “The Third Man” Ruiz ?) to win the title three times – the first two being a couple of men who went by the names Ali and Holyfield. This only pertains to being “world champion” in the eyes of the WBA though surely, because few others ever took Ruiz’ claim seriously. [For trivia fiends out there, the WBA’s recognition was actually won four times each by Ali and Holyfield, in Ali’s case because they stripped him twice. And Ruiz has actually lost the WBA title in the ring more times than he won it, but was reinstated shortly after his defeat to James Toney in 2005 when Toney failed a drugs test]. Less complicated is the understanding that Ruiz is likely to view this as his last chance.
The bottom line is that John Ruiz is old (38), past his best, and was never much good to start with. I don’t know how well David Haye can fight, or if he can fight at all (I know he says he can). I don’t know how well he can take a punch. But he hits hard and fast enough to get Ruiz out of there, and probably quite early. Ruiz is notoriously awkward and he’s experienced ; a spoiler, capable of stalling the action and breaking the rhythm of his opponent. He will probably be determined and in shape. And of course he has only ever been KO’d once. So that’s the angle for the upset – and the alibi if Haye underperforms. But I expect Haye to win this inside of six rounds.
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