What do comedian Rodney Dangerfield and WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz have in common? Neither one gets respect. It seems that the two-time WBA heavyweight champ can’t get anything right in the fans' eyes. He beats Holyfield; Holyfield is washed up. He gets beat by Roy Jones Jr.; he was never a real champ. He kayos Fres Oquendo; it wasn’t spectacular enough. His punch-and-hold style doesn’t seem to captivate the audience, but it does seem to get the job done. With a career record of 40-5-1 (28), Ruiz has beaten such quality fighters as Holyfield, Rahman, Oquendo, and Kirk Johnson. Ruiz would like to get respect, but he doesn’t necessarily have to have it. He is the first Latino heavyweight champion of the world, and that is one accomplishment nobody can take away from him. The 'Quiet Man' stopped by the Doghouse to talk about his fans, his fights and his career.
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Benny Henderson Jr.: How does it feel to be the WBA heavyweight champion once again?
JR: Great. But my goal is to become the undisputed world champion.
BH: Your fight with Fres Oquendo, do you feel he couldn’t continue or was the fight stopped prematurely?
JR: One or two more punches and he would have been out cold. Safety of the fighter is the referee’s job. He was out on his feet. I was robbed of a sensational knockout, but I never want any of my opponents to be seriously hurt, and Fres could have been if the fight hadn’t been stopped when it was.
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BH: In the summer of 2000 you stepped in the ring with Evander Holyfield for the vacant WBA heavyweight title. How did it feel to fight a legend?
JR: It was a tremendous honor fighting a great champion and future Hall of Famer. Once the fight starts none of that really matters. I just fight the other guy in the ring. When I fought Evander all three times he was the toughest guy in the world for me to fight.
BH: Seven months after your controversial loss to Holyfield you stepped in the ring with him once again. This time you were victorious and became the first Latino heavyweight champion of the world. Can you explain your emotions as it was being announced?
JR: I was thinking that all of the hard work had finally paid off. I thought I beat Holyfield the first time. When they announced that I had won, it was overwhelming, and I remember thinking about my children. I’ve always been proud of my Puerto Rican heritage and I’m so proud to be the first nobody can ever take that away and only Latino heavyweight champ of the world.
BH: What inspired you to box?
JR: I love physical sports, like football, and hitting somebody legally.
BH: In your opinion who are the three greatest fighters of all time and why? In any weight division?
JR: I’m not a big boxing fan, but I think Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson are the three best in some order. Just look at what they did and who they fought.
BH: If it was up to you, who would you chose as your next opponent? Explain why?
JR: Mike Tyson. I beat one legend, Holyfield, and we’ve tried to fight Tyson a few times. I hope it happens. I have the belt he wants, let’s go.
BH: Would you like to step in the ring with Roy Jones, Jr. and try to avenge your loss? If yes, what would you do differently?
JR: More than anything I’d like to fight Jones, but he gave up the heavyweight title rather than give me a rematch. He won’t fight me again. I was going through a tough divorce when he fought and mentally I just wasn’t into the fight. You can’t go into any fight like that, especially against Jones. Things would be much different if we ever fight again.
BH: Do you feel you get the respect from the boxing community that you deserve?
JR: No, that’s why I’m called the Rodney Dangerfield of boxing. All I can do is my best and if people aren’t going to like me, I can’t do anything about it. I don’t really worry about that anymore. It’s been like this my whole career. Maybe if I beat Tyson and then unify the heavyweight title I’ll finally get the respect I deserve?
BH: What would you like to say to the Ruiz fans?
JR: Thanks for being in my corner. I thought about retiring after the Jones fight, but all the kind words and support I received from my fans got me back in the ring. I’m grateful to all of my fans for being there.
John Ruiz Accomplishments
First Latino Heavyweight Champion of the World
1997-1998 WBA North American Boxer of the year
1998 Puerto Rican Boxer of the Year [FC Sports]
2000-2001 Individual Athlete of the Year [Boston Sports Awards]
100 Most Influential Hispanic List 2001 [Hispanic Business Magazine]
2001 Puerto Rican Boxer of the Year [Puerto Rico Boxing Commission]
I would like to thank Bob Trieger for setting up this interview. I would also like to thank John Ruiz for taking time out for the fans. For more information on John Ruiz visit his website: www.johnquietmanruiz.com
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