Norman Stone, manager for the current and two-time World Boxing Association Heavyweight Champion John Ruiz, put it all in proper perspective; “This will be a battle, but not a war – the war is in IRAQ,” stated one of boxing's straightest shooters, who added “God bless our troops over there. They are the real heroes, guys like Pat Tillman – who gave up millions of dollars to fight and die for his country. That's a hero!”
In reality John “The Quietman” Ruiz has been battling for quite some time now. His battle, which is Stone's battle as well (like any good manager), is not with Andrew Golota, or any other heavyweight fighter; it's with the media, the so-called boxing “experts” and with the boxing public. Ruiz, and Stone, are battling for RESPECT.
Ruiz (40-5-1) will be defending his WBA title against Golota (38-4-1) as the headliner of Don King's “Rendezvous with Destiny:Battle for Supremacy” fightcard on Saturday in New York's most historic venue, Madison Square Garden.
“Johnny loses to Roy Jones, and everyone says he's a bum,” exclaimed Stone. “No one talks about John's problems with that fight (mainly a bitter divorce was in process), no one says anything about Jones being knocked out twice.”
br />To Ruiz's credit, the Massachusetts native has come back from his two most devastating losses to twice capture boxing's most prized crown – the heavyweight title.
In 1996 Ruiz suffered a first round knockout at the hands of David Tua, yet persevered to defeat Evander Holyfield in 2001. After Ruiz fought his worst against Jones and suffered a humiliating twelve round unanimous decision loss – losing his belt, Ruiz didn't quit. Jones, refusing to honor Ruiz's request for a rematch, chose to relinquish the heavyweight title to move back down to light heavyweight.
This set the stage for Ruiz vs. former champion Hasim Rahman for the Interim WBA championship – which Ruiz won in a twelve round non-thriller.
John Ruiz not only didn't quit when most would – he won championships!
Saturday night in boxing's most historic and most revered arena, John Ruiz will be defending his world title belt in the main event of a fightcard which also features current IBF World Champion, Chris Byrd and former champions, Evander Holyfied, Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall – not too bad for a “mediocre” fighter.
Tickets are still available for Promoter Don King's “Rendezvous with Destiny:Battle for Supremacy” fightcard at the Madison Square Garden box office or by calling TicketMaster at (212) 307-7171 or (201) 507-8989.
HBO Pay-Per-View will begin it's national telecast at 9PM (EST).
Mike Indri is the New Jersey State representative for the Retired Boxers Foundation.