SAM COLONNA: You have to be careful of John Ruiz. He’s a dirty fighter, you have to be careful, he hits behind the head, he hits low. When Andrew does that he gets disqualified. When John Ruiz does it, he finds a way not to get disqualified and win the fight. Against John Ruiz, we are going to be prepared for anything he does. We have been training with four or five different sparring partners. In fact, we had to hire two more [sparring partners] because two of them fell out because Andrew was hurting them. We have been training for the last three months and have been doing everything to win this fight.
NORMAN STONE: I never heard that comment once. It’s just the opposite. Golota clubs, he punches behind the head, he hits below the belt. I don’t know where Sam’s coming from but…
SAM COLONNA: Just watch a couple of those tapes and see…
NORMAN STONE: I’ve been with Johnny for 100 fights and I’ve never seen him hit anybody behind the head.
SAM COLONNA: That’s because you were too busy arguing with the referee.
NORMAN STONE: I’ll give any odds on a fight between me and Colonna. Any odds.
RUIZ: I think it is a big factor. It’s easy to go out there and knock someone out than to have a fighter quit on you. Do you know what I mean? It’s a lot tougher to impose your will and knock him out. This is a perfect fight for me. Like you’ve seen in a lot of other fights, he [Golota] just ends up quitting. What better opponent to have than someone who is going to end up quitting on me as soon as I put the pressure on [him].
GOLOTA: That is the way of fighting. Put the pressure on the guy and make him tired. That’s what I am ready for. Let him put the pressure on. I am not worried about it.
RUIZ: It’s going to be a tough fight for both of them. One is going to go out there and try to box and Meehan’s got a good jab and he moves and not too many heavyweights move. It’s going to be tough for Rahman – if you come he’s going to rough you up and take you out. It’s going to be tough to get through his reach first of all. It all depends on who comes to fight. Rahman keeps saying he’s coming to fight so let’s see if he comes to fight this time. If he can move and get within his range, he can knock him out. But if Meehan gets to work the jab and is on his toes, he’s going to win the fight easy. I predict a knockout for Rahman and a 12-round decision for Meehan.
Do you feel you’re going to knock out Golota?
RUIZ: There have been many fights in my career that I didn’t have the strength and the heart to go out there and fight. I never really had the mentality to think that I am the best out there and to reassure myself [of] that…it’s the mind of a champion. I always had the mind of a worker, to go out there and work and keep working and I know good things will come out of it. This time I am working on my strength and I am working on my weakness, which is my mentality. Now I have to go out there and know that I can beat anybody in the world and stay champion forever.
This is a great fight for me. The thing I’m looking at is, is it going to be tough? Yes, it’s going to be tough. Every fight is tough. The thing I know is that I can go out there and put pressure on him and my two positions are he either quits or I knock him out.
GOLOTA: Whatever it takes to win the fight. I am going to win the fight. I will win the fight.
What is the plan?
NORMAN STONE: I’ve been with John the whole time—win, lose or draw. I don’t make predictions. I like Andrew Golota and I think he’s a great guy. But it’s just not their time. Johnny is going to end up knocking out Golota.
What motivated you to come back after your layoff?
GOLOTA: After the Tyson fight, I took time off then was motivated to come back and win the belt.
On Roy Jones Jr.’s last 2 fights:
RUIZ: There was one point where I had all of the hate in the world for him. I did everything I could for him to give him, everything he wanted to get the fight going for the fans, and at the [previous] fight you could say I wasn’t in the right state of mind. Then he just moved on with his career. It [Jones’s recent knockout losses] couldn’t have happened to a better person. Jones turned his back on me when it came to a rematch. I gave him everything he asked for.
What is your stake in the division?
RUIZ: I’m always the one in the background when the camera goes on. I’m hiding somewhere. I have respect for both fighters [Byrd and Klitschko] and I’m out there proving it. I’m out there fighting. Byrd had two controversial fights. I’m out there to work and I’m out there to fight. People can say a lot of things, but this is boxing. Go out there and put the fight together and see who is the real deal in the heavyweight division.
My main thing is to keep moving forward. I have to look forward to Golota now and making sure that I am in top shape.
How will you beat Ruiz?
GOLOTA: John Ruiz is a difficult fighter. He’s stronger. If I wish, I would want to fight somebody else but I have no choice. He’s a durable fighter. If I could fight somebody else I would, but I can’t. But if I beat him, I will be the real champion.
I thought I won the fight against Byrd, but I’m not the judge. Against Ruiz I have to stay focused and within the game plan. And Don King is behind me with a baseball club [urging him to win].
COLONNA: This means everything to him. When he came back to restart his boxing career after the two-year layoff, he told me he wanted to become the next world heavyweight champion. This is why he’s back in the ring, to prove that he is capable of becoming the next heavyweight champion—whether he’s fighting Ruiz or whatever it takes. Against Byrd we had a shot and now we are blessed that we have another shot. Ruiz is a great fighter and he’s proven that many times. He went in there and fought Rahman, and Rahman knocked out Lennox Lewis. Lennox Lewis was the best heavyweight champion out there. We are not taking this fight lightly. This will prove that what happened in the past will stay in the past. They will remember him [Golota] as the heavyweight champion.
GOLOTA: The time has come right now. It’s my time.
Why not fight Chris Byrd?
RUIZ: It’s a tough call. I feel that I’m fighting fighters and it seems more logical to get that fight going, between Chris Byrd and myself. He knows that our paths have to cross sometime. This is our opportunity to go out there and put on a great show. I don’t see why we haven’t got that fight yet. It’s one that I would look forward to, but I’m not satisfied with that – I want the fight to happen.
On the Draw in the Byrd fight:
GOLOTA: At the end of the fight, I was listening to the scorecards and when I heard the last one [last judges’ scorecard] and he didn’t think I won the last round. But what can I do? There is no way to get around it. You can’t change it. I tried to force him to fight me again. But he didn’t want to.
Can you describe your enthusiasm to fight for a world title again?
GOLOTA: I get the shot again but it is against a different fighter. It is a different ballgame.
SAM COLONNA: He set his mind when he first came back . He wanted to become the next heavyweight world champion and it still hasn’t left him. He is in the gym every day and if we miss a day because of a holiday we have to make it up on Sunday. On Sunday, the lord says we have to rest but he is in the gym. That comes from him. I say it is Sunday and we have to take a break and he says that we have to be there. So he wants to become the next heavyweight champion. That is the difference. He wasn’t put there because he wants to sell tickets. He wants to become the next heavyweight champion.
He had his mind set that he was going to fight Byrd because they kept throwing his name at us. He signed for the fight and we were getting prepared for Byrd. Then Byrd didn’t want to sign the contract. He was training to fight Chris Byrd. Then they told us he was fighting Ruiz and he wasn’t crazy about that. Now we are preparing for him, and now we are ready for him.
Describe your relationhip with Andrew Golota:
SAM COLONNA: We have an understanding with each other. He came to me straight from Poland. We have an understating with each other. I know exactly what he wants from me. I know what is expected of him. I know what clicks and what doesn’t click. It’s been working so far, and that is the chemistry we have with each other.
STONE: I’ve been with him everywhere that he’s fought and everywhere that he has gone. John didn’t get greedy. John stayed with me. There were times that people wanted to take John and he said if I’m going to be champion, I’m going to be with you guys. That’s the difference between John Ruiz [and other fighters]. He never left for the big money. I get paid to make sure the referee does his job. I get paid to make sure the judges do the right thing. I’m not there to be a puppet. I don’t let anything go by me. At the Jones fight they tried to bring bigger gloves. John Ruiz is like my son. He was loyal to me. He could have went to the Duva’s or Carl King. Bob Arum had called. All these guys have called John Ruiz. John Ruiz stayed with me. I’m proud that we stayed together and we’ve probably stayed together more than any team in boxing. But he never made the jump to make more money – he stayed with me. No one is going to shit on John Ruiz, I don’t care who you are.
Is there a concern that Golota will react poorly and lose his temper?
SAM COLONNA: There is always a concern. In his comeback fight [against Brian Nix on Aug. 14, 2003, in Dover, Del., which Golota won TKO 7], Andrew hit the guy with the best body shot I have ever seen. The guy went down and was pointing that it was low. The referee right away started to take a point away from Andrew Golota. On the big screen they showed the replay and everybody was booing because it was a perfect shot. If the referee sees a dirty shot, call it. They are always looking for a dirty shot from him. If Ruiz gets dirty and Andrew comes back with something else, it’s going to be Golota getting the warning and nothing else. So I am concerned and I am drilling that in his head, let Ruiz use his dirty techniques and you just fight your fight.
RUIZ: I have always been a worker, but my confidence was not always there, and that’s what I lacked. The Jones fight was a big moment in my career and then getting a second chance and making the best out of it. Now I know that I am the best, and I can beat everybody in the world. Nobody can beat me. That is the thing that I had always lacked. Every fight I go into now there is no doubt about that I will prove it.
NORMAN STONE: I’ve seen a lot of things. Andrew is a big strong guy and there is no doubt about that. You have to be in your game when you fight Golota. I don’t care who you are. All jokes aside, Andrew is one tough guy. He’s one of the best heavyweights out there. There’s a lot of things Andrew does wrong, and there are a lot of things a lot of fighters do wrong.
SAM COLONNA: I’ve watched Ruiz throughout the years. I watched the Nicholson fight. Ruiz rises to the occasion. He’s one of the best heavyweights out there and doesn’t get any credit. It is going to be a difficult fight and we are preparing for the mistakes that he makes.
Does anyone think the fight is going to go the distance?
NORMAN STONE: No.
SAM COLONNA: I think it is going to go between 5 to 8 rounds.
GOLOTA: I am prepared to go the distance.
RUIZ: I’m ready for 12-rounds.
What is the difference in training between Byrd and Ruiz?
SAM COLONNA: Fighting Byrd and Ruiz…they are different fighters. Ruiz is not a southpaw. Byrd is a southpaw. Ruiz is a plodder and he comes at you with the jab, pushing his way in. Byrd moves and has different angles. He spins you and is all over the ring. He’s lighter in the feet and he’s not a big of a puncher as John Ruiz. The styles are completely different.
SAM COLONNA: We are working with different styles of boxers. We just got two more sparring partners because we lost two when Andrew hurt them.
NORMAN STONE: Nady said that he would have taken points away from John after Holyfield hit him low and then John came back to hit him low. A referee that would be involved in the Jones fight should have never said that. I have no problem with the referee and I can’t speak for Sam. Nady was the only guy I had hesitations about. You’ll hear it from me if he’s not a good referee because that’s my job – to make sure he does his job. You’re not going to change anything in the ring. I just make sure they do their job.
SAM COLONNA: If the referee is doing his job, I have nothing to say. As long as he sees it before he makes the call. That’s all I want him to do is be fair with the decision he makes.
NORMAN STONE: John has never been DQ’d in a fight, ever.
I said I wanted to get Byrd because I heard that the fight was falling off between Golota and Byrd. So I tried my best to get Byrd. Byrd didn’t want to fight John. Then I said we should fight the best guy out there and that’s Andrew Golota. I think guys like Golota who put everything into it makes for a great fight. It’s going to be the best fight of the night.
Where do you see your fighters weighing in?
COLONNA: 238 to 240
STONE: 238 to240
RUIZ: It’s going to be a fight—the low blows and hitting behind the head. You know it’s going to be a great fight. I’m looking forward to it. His style against my style is going to be an explosion.