by James Slater: It could be argued that Canadian powerhouse Donovan “Razor” Ruddock was an unlucky fighter. Blessed with awesome one-punch KO power, limitless guts and bravery and a fine chin in his prime years, there was just one problem for the 6’3″ banger: he was plying his trade at the same time as all-time greats Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. This factor aside, I’m almost positive Ruddock would’ve been able to capture at least a version of the world heavyweight title in the 1990s.
Arriving on the world stage with a huge bang, “Razor” smashed two former champions to defeat in quite sensational style. First, Ruddock banged out James “Bonecrusher” Smith in 7 rounds in 1989 (getting up from an early knockdown as he did so) and then, the following year, the Canadian scored one of the most frightening KO’s in recent memory when he all but decapitated Mike “Dynamite” Dokes in just 4 rounds. The world had been introduced to “The Smash,” Ruddock’s combination of a left hook/left uppercut – a punch, that if it landed, could do enormous damage. Pretty soon, another former heavyweight champion, in Mike Tyson, would be introduced to the punch also.
On the way back after his stunning loss to James “Buster” Douglas, Tyson met “Razor” in his third comeback fight. The two put on a memorable battle in Las Vegas in March of 1991, but “Iron Mike” proved the more skilled fighter. Ruddock had his moments, particularly in the 6th round, but was then stopped, controversially, in the 7th. Still upright but taking shots while on the ropes, Ruddock watched in shock as referee Richard Steele dived in to call a halt. “What?!” Ruddock bellowed, as his efforts were brought to an end. Many of the fans in attendance, some of them piling into the ring and helping to create an ugly scene, were screaming the same thing. A rematch was ordered and came just three months later.
In losing again, but this time after going the full 12 rounds, Ruddock once again proved how seriously he had to be looked at as a fighter. Unfortunately, and unknown to anyone at the time, the busted jaw Ruddock suffered in the 12-round war with Tyson all but ended his days as a top class fighter. “Razor” was never the same again – certainly his punch resistance was never the same. It still came as one helluva shock, however, when Britain’s Lennox Lewis iced Ruddock in only two rounds a year-and-a-half later. Caught early, Ruddock was completely blown away – perhaps the surprise result being at least partially due to his being damaged goods after his two wars with “The Baddest Man On The Planet,” perhaps not.
Had it not been for those two damaging encounters with Tyson, and then the final elimination bout with Lewis, Ruddock may well have become a champion. Just think: if Tyson had been sentenced to jail a few months sooner than he was, Ruddock would have, in all probability, met reigning champion Evander Holyfield for the title. Would “The Real Deal” have dealt with Ruddock as Tyson and Lewis did? Who knows? Two things are for sure, though – a Ruddock-Holyfield fight would have been nothing but a great one, and in facing Holyfield, Ruddock would at least have fought for the world title. As things turned out for the exciting and lethal Canadian, he never got that far.
But enough of what might have been for Ruddock back in his prime – what if he’d been around today?
Would Wladimir Klitschko have been able to take the monstrous shots Tyson sucked up? No way. Recent WBA heavyweight titlist David Haye? Again, no way. Of course, Razor would’ve had to have landed his famous “smash” in the first place against Klitschko, or Haye, and both guys would surely have fought smart and look for the oft-telegraphed shot. This aside, however, there is no doubt in my mind, had he been born fifteen or so years later, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock would have owned at least a portion of the world title.