Saturday night boxing at the Garden. The phrase used to precede excellence. But with the name John Ruiz attached to the card, expectations must be skeptical at best. On this Saturday night however, the results would excede expectation.
WBA champion Ruiz went out to further his claim last night at the Garden that he was the best heavyweight in the world. James Toney on the other hand wanted to prove the doubters and skeptics wrong, and show the world that he was a legitimate force in the heavyweight division.
Toney came to the ring with a less-than-impressive physique on Saturday with some fat padding around his ribs and a bit of a paunch to his belly. Ruiz on the other hand looked to be in his usual fighting shape as the reigning champion made his walk to the ring.
The first round saw limited action from the two fighters as they each tried to get a feel for one another. Ruiz clinched a few times and Toney tried to bang to the body. Things got interesting in the second however when referee Steve Smoger (who did a decent job considering the man he was officiating) warned Ruiz for holding and hitting Toney behind the head.
Round three saw the action start to pick up as Toney's gameplan emerged. He began swatting Ruiz jabs out of the air and countering his punches with precise, stinging right hands. Toney was landing so many counter rights up top that Ruiz' nose began to bleed.
In rounds 4, 5, and 6 the two combatants continued with their gameplans. Toney countered with right hands, pacing himself and knowing when to put on the breaks on and coast. Ruiz on the other hand was throwing alot more punches than he is accustomed to and this took a toll as he began to tire after the fifth round. Another piece absent from this fight was the jab-and-grab technique Ruiz is so used to. He instead opted to fight straight up and jab, which proved to be his downfall.
To start round seven Toney, who looked winded in his corner, proved to be playing possum when he charged off his stool right after Ruiz. Toney landed a few shots upstairs and Ruiz stumbled to the canvas. Upon further review however, it could be plainly seen that Ruiz' foot had been stepped on by Toney and thus causing him to trip. Smoger still ruled it a knockdown and Toney was given a 10-8 round.
After round eight Toney seemed well on his way to victory. He continued to be patient, using his counter right hand and not getting too aggressive at any point during the fight. He even landed the hardest shot of the fight in the 11th round with an overhand right that sent water from Ruiz' head flying to seemingly every end of the Garden. Ruiz gave it a valiant effort in the twelfth but was just too spent from all the counter punches he had taken, as well as all the punches he had thrown.
The scores came out 116-111 twice, and 115-112 all in favor of the winner and new WBA heavyweight champion of the world, James Toney. When asked about where Ruiz would be after this fight Toney quipped, "Don King will probably throw him in the trash, which is probably where he found him."
They say boxing is all about imposing your will on your opponent. Well, James Toney did nothing short of that tonight as he outboxed and outpunched John Ruiz to take his crown from him. As for the Quietman, he seems to be silenced for now, but only time will tell where his career goes after this crushing loss.
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