John Ruiz – Heeeee’s Baaaack
By Rob Scott (August 10, 2005) 
Photo © Marty Rosengarten/
Maybe it’s just me, but John Ruiz should really think about a name change. The ‘Quiet Man’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. Maybe something with more of a feline connotation would be more appropriate as this fighter seems to have more lives than any cat that I have ever seen. After the ring announcer in Madison Square Garden announced James Toney as the new WBA heavyweight champion the world, once again, the world thought they had seen the last of John Ruiz; as his trusted trainer/manager Norman Stone subsequently announced his retirement at the post-fight press conference.  Fast forward a couple of weeks and the boxing world was shook-up after Toney tested positive for the usage of a banned substance and ultimately stripped of his newly won championship laurels.

In a baffling move, the WBA and The New York State Athletic Commission put Ruiz back in business by returning the title to him and declaring his bout with Toney a No-Contest. Now like a bad scene from the movie ‘Poltergeist’, the sound of ‘He’s Back’ is making fans and fighters alike pounce up out of their beds in cold sweats. 

For as long as I have been involved in the sport of boxing, I have always tried to be as objective as one can be. Realistically, you are not going to like everyone you meet. Even more over, you are not going to like everyone you see. Then there is John Ruiz, who to meet him is to really like him; he is a very nice guy. To watch his fights though is another story entirely; they can turn a smile into a frown as soon as the first bell rings.

Let’s face it; almost every fighter has put on a bad performance that they would love to forget. Many of those same fighters though have put on performances that have more than made up for the negative showings that even they would have to admit were eyesores. Then there is John Ruiz, who fight-after-fight gives us nothing reminiscent of the sweet science. His bouts have been more like a bad tough man competition filled with clutches, hugs and throw-downs.     

There was a saying when I was growing up that said, “God don’t like ugly”; if that is the case, after the Toney fight, even ‘The Most High’ said, ‘Aw Damn!’ when the New York State Athletic Commission and the WBA rendered their decisions.

Toney has since paid his fines and served his suspension levied by the NY State Athletic Commission, but under WBA rules, Toney will not be able to contest for a WBA belt for a term of two years.

Any other organization would have left their titles vacant, but the WBA gives theirs back to Ruiz – go figure. At first we may have reason to point fingers at the Venezuelan based organization; but as time goes on, day-after-day and fight-after-fight, I can’t help but look at the fighters. To Ruiz’s credit, he has shown that he will wrestle – excuse me, fight – anybody out there. Toney did have his chance to do away with Ruiz, but whether intentionally taken or not, the steroid issue surfaced. Andrew Golota, Fres Oquendo and Kirk Johnson have tried to get the job done also. Hasim Rahman, who will be competing this Saturday against Monte Barrett for the right to face WBC champion Vitali Klitschko, failed when given the chance to rid the boxing world of Ruiz as well.

Whether we consider him ‘The’ Heavyweight champion or not, Ruiz is the WBA titleholder; Don King also promotes him and these two factors coupled together mean we will inevitably see and hear more from the ‘Quiet Man’.  I know there are fans that are hoping for Ruiz to run out of his boxing lives; there are some heavyweights who say Ruiz shouldn’t be where he is and that they will make those lives come to an end. Toney and Roy Jones came up in weight and momentarily got the job done, but what about the rest of the division? The fans can only practice patience, while heavyweights can practice what they preach. Will the heavyweight division’s actions speak louder than their words? We’ll see, because up until now, action-wise, John Ruiz has made them the ‘Quiet Men’.
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