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The "Quietman" Looks to Destroy David Haye: John Ruiz Speaks to RSR

Interview by Jeff Stoyanoff and Mike Zepeda

“People see boxing as a brutal sport, but at the same time they need to see the opposite side where it helps a lot of guys get off the streets.” – John Ruiz

Even John Ruiz himself is aware that he is likely coming to the end of a long and winding road in a difficult yet gratifying boxing career that has spanned nearly 18 years.  The former 2-Time Heavyweight Champion even referred to his upcoming title bout with WBA Champion David Haye as possibly the “last hurrah” in a career that Ruiz himself likened to a roller coaster ride.  The terminally underrated Ruiz holds win over the likes of:  Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman, Jameel McCline, Andrew Golota, as well as wins over many other notable names.  In addition, he will always hold a special place in boxing history as the first fighter of Latino heritage to ever win a Heavyweight Championship. 

Still, as he prepares for his April 3rd fight with the newly crowned WBA Champ David Haye, Ruiz appears mindful of the timing of things, while predictably remaining deeply determined to secure one last big win to finish off his fine career.  These solemn, yet somewhat intriguing realities were clearly on his mind as Ruiz took some time to talk about his upcoming fight, his future, and the state of boxing in a recent interview with Ringside Report.  

RR:  One of the striking differences in this fight lies in the experience level of both fighters against top competition.  How important might experience be in this fight?  And, how might that experience play out in the fight itself?

You never know in fights like this.  You have the younger guy and the older guy and one guy has a lot more fights and the other is hungry to gain that experience.  It all depends on who has the stamina and the heart to go out there and take the fight to the other person.  You can never tell which way the fight will go; it’s all about who is hungrier.

RR: The fight is set to take place in Britain.  You were quoted saying that you felt that Haye’s fans helped to “sway” the decision when he fought Valuev in Germany in his last fight.  How concerned are you about the potential for the crowd to sway the result in this fight?  And, could it even impact the way you actually choose to fight in the ring?

I honestly felt that his fans put an exclamation point on that win against Valuev.  Both fighters didn’t do what they needed to do to actually win the fight.  The fans created the atmosphere where it looked like Haye was doing more than Valuev even though it was kind of even with neither of them throwing punches.  But at the same time, now it’s me going over to fight Haye in his hometown.  But, I honestly feel like the British fans are there more for a great fight than anything else.  I’ve fought there six times and have never lost and I never had the experience that they were against me.  Even though I was always fighting a hometown guy, somehow or some way I managed to get the crowd behind me.  I’m looking forward to fighting there; unlike Germany where I am 0-3 so I am glad to be moving away from there.  I couldn’t catch a break fighting over there, but meanwhile I’m 6-0 in Britain so I like my odds there where the fans get behind the fighter that is actually doing the fighting.

RR:  When asked about this fight, David Haye said the following about you, “He is a pressure fighter.  He has quick hands and he will try to take me into the trenches.  I am relishing that battle.”  Would you like to get into a fast paced fight with him with more exchanges?  Or will you look to set a slower pace?

The thing is I have fought these kinds of fighters before from James Toney to Roy Jones, but also bigger guys like McCline.  I have fought guys at all kinds of weights and I’ve adjusted to all of them.  This is a fight I am looking forward to myself.  This guy’s main weapon is his quickness, but at the same time it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.  It’s a fight where it’s up to me to win or lose and what I mean by that is it’s up to me to take the fight and make sure he gets off his horse and comes in to fight.  But, I think most of the time he is going to be on his horse and I feel like I’ll have to chase him down.

RR: You have also talked about his movement as a key weapon for him, perhaps even his main weapon in the fight.  He does have a pretty impressive knockout percentage in his career thus far.  What do you make of his power?  And, how careful do you feel like you need to be with him, particularly early on?

You always have to be careful with anybody because any punch can knock out anyone so you definitely have to be careful with anyone you fight; especially with a guy like Haye who has quick hands so you never know when the punch is coming.  That is the one thing you have to be prepared for is that quickness because that quickness can create power.  What we’re doing is preparing for him and working on cutting off the ring to make sure he has to fight me.  That is my game plan all the time is to make the other guy fight my fight;  that is what I have been doing my entire career; making my opponent fight my fight.  I have been able to accomplish that most of the time. 

RR: On the other hand, one of the persistent questions about Haye surrounds his ability to take a punch especially now that he is campaigning as a heavyweight.  Do you expect that you will be able to hurt him when you land in this fight?

With things like this you just never know.  He is quick.  He avoids punches.  It will be tough for me to connect on him cleanly, but at the same time I have to throw more than one.  That is a key for me is I have to throw more than one punch at a time.  That is why we are working on combinations that way if one misses then the other two might connect.  That’s the thing, he may move and get on his horse and definitely run around a lot.  But, it’s up to me to cut the ring off, slow him down, work the body, and from there if one connects that’s perfect we can all go home early.  But, if it doesn’t then I am there for the long haul.

RR: You came in to your last fight at 227 pounds which is the lightest you had been for several years.  Is that the weight you are targeting for this fight?  And, is that about matching up with Haye in terms of the quickness you were talking about just then?

Most definitely.  Right now I’m at 230 and I feel good, but I feel like I can still shed a few more pounds so that I can be even lighter on my feet.  The key thing in this fight is making sure that he doesn’t run as much as he did in the Valuev fight and some of his other fights.  That is the key point of my training.  If I can stop him and make him stop running that is perfect for me because now he is fighting my fight and he is not doing what he is supposed to be doing which is throwing a few punches and taking off.  So, that is the key focus of my training and hopefully it will work out.

RR: It sounds like the main concern deals with him using his speed to get off first and then move on you.  What specifically can you do to negate the speed advantage that he hopes to utilize in this fight?

The best thing is moving well myself.  I have been working with Miguel Diaz and Richie Saldivar and they have me moving my head more.  Maybe you saw in my last fight that I moved a little more, but now this fight I am bringing out even more and definitely making him miss.  The key thing with Haye is he hates to waste energy.  Once he starts to miss punches he will start running around to get more comfortable, and I don’t want him to be comfortable in the ring.  If I can move and make him miss and then cut off the ring then he will feel uncomfortable in there.  Sooner or later he is going to start to think; what have I gotten myself into?

RR: Throughout your career you have always been a very smart, cerebral fighter.  Often times in other sports those kinds of athletes go into coaching.  Have you considered becoming a trainer after your days as a fighter have ended?

I have been thinking about it.  You know, I have been doing this so many times for so many years.  I’m trying to get out as soon as possible; hopefully this is my last hurrah here in this championship fight.  After that I would like to go back and train young kids and get involved with the community and helping to take kids off the street and bring them in to the gym and let them go through what I went through where it got me away from the drugs.  It builds character when you are in the ring and also in the gym with the guys.  It helps to build your confidence up.  Boxing helps people.  People see boxing as a brutal sport, but at the same time they need to see the opposite side where it helps a lot of guys get off the streets.

RR: PED’s have become a huge story in boxing recently with the firestorm of controversy surrounding the potential mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.  Unfortunately, you have some firsthand experience with this issue; we are referring of course to James Toney testing positive for a banned substance after fighting you in 2005.  In your opinion, how widespread is the problem of PED’s in boxing right now?

It’s everywhere.  It seems like it is touching every sport.  It is sad to see when people depend on a drug to perform better instead of just using their natural talent.  As you said, I have been through it with James Toney.  It’s funny, it seems like every bad thing has managed to touch my career; I attract the worst things in life in a way.  Thank goodness I’m getting rid of all that crap, in a way.  And especially steroids which have been used so many times before, and it’s sad when a guy like myself goes in there for the fight of his life and a lot of times his opponent is taking steroids and it’s helping his performance.  That means a lot because boxing is a sport where you are as good as your last fight.  And, if you lose and then the other guy tests positive, people don’t care about that they only care about how you lost.  It hurts your career, it definitely hurt mine and there is no way I can go back and repair it.

RR: Steroids are often used to get bigger, but there is definitely a school of thought that says getting bigger won’t really help in boxing.  Does it help to get bigger as a boxer?

What it does is help you to train harder.  The better you train the better you fight.  That’s what it does, it helps you train as hard as you can and come fight time it definitely helps you out.  In the lighter divisions, it doesn’t necessarily pack on the weight.  Sometimes steroids are used to lean you down and they make you work harder.  You can then stay in the same weight class or you can move up, so it helps those guys moving up into other weight classes.  So, you can keep moving up and using steroids to build more muscle.  Sometimes when you see guys gaining weight you can see a little baby fat, but with steroids it’s more lean muscle which allows you to move up further in weight.  It is definitely a drug that helps the person taking it, but at the same time it’s also killing the sport.

RR: Finally, once again you have the fight for the WBA Title on April 3rd in Manchester, England against David Haye.  I want to give you one last chance to address the fans on what they can expect to see that night?

First of all, I just want to say thank you to all of my fans who have been through this roller coaster with me.  The fight on April 3rd is going to be a great fight.  It’s going to be a chess match where you just never know who is going to win.  I just want to thank everybody again, and it’s been a long road for me.  I’m hoping to get my fans out there.  This could be my last hurrah so hopefully they can cheer me on and I can become a three time world champion.  Then I can move on with my career and after that just go out and enjoy life.

John Ruiz

Nickname:  “The Quietman”

Professional Record:  44-8-1, 30 KO’s  

Division:   Heavyweight

Date       Opponent                  W-L-D     Location                  Result     

1992-08-20 Kevin Parker              2-0-1     Atlantic City, USA        W UD   4

1992-09-12 Mike Vasser               0-0-0     Revere, USA               W KO   1

1992-11-03 Barry Kirton              5-4-0     Mashantucket, USA         W TKO  2

1992-11-13 John Basil Jackson        0-8-0     Revere, USA               W PTS  6

1992-12-10 Jesus Rohena              1-6-0     Boston, USA               W TKO  1

1993-01-16 John Basil Jackson        0-9-0     Belmont, USA              W PTS  6

1993-01-30 Miguel Rosa               4-18-0    Chelsea, USA              W TKO  2

1993-02-20 Phil Prince               1-5-0     Boston, USA               W KO   1

1993-03-05 Derrick Jones             0-0-0     Boston, USA               W TKO  1

1993-03-20 Lorenzo Poole             0-3-0     Revere, USA               W KO   1

1993-04-03 Juan Quintana             6-25-2    Somerville, USA           W PTS  6

1993-04-16 Mark Sonnier              3-2-0     Boston, USA               W TKO  1

1993-04-30 George Chambers           0-0-0     Chelsea, USA              W KO   1

1993-06-25 Exum Speight              5-7-1     Chelsea, USA              W UD   8

1993-08-12 Sergei Kobozev            15-0-0    Bay Saint Louis, USA      L SD  10

1993-11-03 Cordwell Hylton           26-34-2   Bristol, United Kingdom   W PTS  6

1993-11-27 Carl Williams             14-14-0   Cleveland, USA            W PTS  6

1994-05-25 Julius Francis            6-0-0     Bristol, United Kingdom   W KO   4

1994-06-25 Muhammad Askai            0-7-0     Revere, USA               W TKO  2

1994-08-04 Danell Nicholson          15-1-0    Mashantucket, USA         L SD  12

        vacant International Boxing Organization Heavyweight Title

1994-10-01 Rick Sullivan             3-3-0     Boston, USA               W KO   2

1995-02-04 Boris Powell              23-0-0    Las Vegas, USA            W UD  10

1995-03-30 Jack Basting              21-10-0   Bethnal Green, United Kin W TKO  1

1995-05-17 Michael Murray            12-7-0    Ipswich, United Kingdom   W TKO  4

1995-06-16 Derrick Roddy             15-4-0    Southwark, United Kingdom W KO   2

        vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title

1995-08-24 Willie Jackson            10-3-0    Somerville, USA           W KO   1

1995-10-07 Steve Pannell             18-2-0    Atlantic City, USA        W TKO  4

1996-03-15 David Tua                 22-0-0    Atlantic City, USA        L KO   1

        WBC International Heavyweight Title

1996-06-06 Doug Davis                7-17-1    Boston, USA               W TKO  6

1996-07-18 Greg Pickrom              9-1-1     Boston, USA               W TKO  1

1996-10-25 Nathaniel Fitch           12-15-0   Boston, USA               W TKO  3

1996-11-26 Yuri Yelistratov          10-3-0    Bethnal Green, United Kin W TKO  3

1997-01-14 Jimmy Thunder             31-6-0    Kansas City, USA          W SD  12

        vacant NABF Heavyweight Title

1997-06-17 Ray Anis                  24-3-0    Bay Saint Louis, USA      W TKO  1

        NABF Heavyweight Title

1998-01-31 Tony Tucker               57-6-0    Tampa, USA                W TKO 11

        NABF Heavyweight Title

1998-09-19 Jerry Ballard             19-1-1    Atlanta, USA              W TKO  4

        NABF Heavyweight Title

        vacant NABA Heavyweight Title

1999-03-13 Mario Cawley              21-1-0    New York, USA             W TKO  4

        NABA Heavyweight Title

1999-06-12 Fernely Feliz             16-1-0    Wilmington, USA           W TKO  7

        NABA Heavyweight Title

1999-12-11 Thomas Williams           25-6-0    Tunica, USA               W TKO  2

        NABA Heavyweight Title

2000-08-12 Evander Holyfield         36-4-1    Las Vegas, USA            L UD  12

        vacant WBA World Heavyweight Title

2001-03-03 Evander Holyfield         37-4-1    Las Vegas, USA            W UD  12

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2001-12-15 Evander Holyfield         37-5-1    Mashantucket, USA         D PTS 12

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2002-07-27 Kirk Johnson              32-0-1    Las Vegas, USA            W DQ  10

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2003-03-01 Roy Jones Jr              47-1-0    Las Vegas, USA            L UD  12

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2003-12-13 Hasim Rahman              35-4-1    Atlantic City, USA        W UD  12

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2004-04-17 Fres Oquendo              24-2-0    New York, USA             W TKO 11

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2004-11-13 Andrew Golota             38-4-1    New York, USA             W UD  12

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2005-04-30 James Toney               68-4-2    New York, USA             NC ND  12

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

        International Boxing Association Heavyweight Title

2005-12-17 Nikolay Valuev            42-0-0    Prenzlauer Berg, Germany  L MD  12

        WBA World Heavyweight Title

2006-11-18 Ruslan Chagaev            21-0-1    Düsseldorf, Germany      L SD  12

2007-10-13 Otis Tisdale              25-18-1   Hoffman Estates, USA      W TKO  2

2008-03-08 Jameel McCline            38-8-3    Cancun, Mexico            W UD  12

2008-08-30 Nikolay Valuev            48-1-0    Prenzlauer Berg, Germany  L UD  12

        vacant WBA World Heavyweight Title

2009-11-07 Adnan Serin               19-10-1   Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Ge W TKO  7

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