New York (April 14, 2005) – The big boys of boxing, WBA heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz (41-51 28 KOs) and three-time world champion James “Lights Out” Toney (68-4-2 43 KOs), will put it all on the line on Saturday, April 30, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The bout is promoted by Don King Productions and Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with MSG.
The Ruiz-Toney media tour has been going from media capital to media capital, building up the gate for the title fight. Both men share the same profession, but they are as different as can be. The champ Ruiz is fairly colorless (his manager/trainer is another story) and pretty much lives up to his ring moniker. The challenger Toney is as colorful as an explosion. Lights Out leaves blackouts in his wake.
During a conference call with members of the press today, Ruiz and Toney were true to form. To get things started, the two combatants were asked to make a statement.
Ruiz: It is going to be a great fight. He is coming to fight, but I still feel that I am the best in the world and I am just coming out to prove it.
Toney: I am excited and ready to go. I have been training for a long time and actually preparing for this fight for the last two and a half months. It is good to fight the best heavyweight out there, which is John Ruiz. The reason why I am saying that is because he is the only one with the guts to step up to fight – and it will be a great fight. It is actually a war. I love wars. Fighting is my game. I was born to fight. So I am ready to get it on. Whatever happens, I know I will be the champion that night and I am not discrediting John Ruiz in any way, but I cannot wait to get on with it. I am ready to make history.
The Q & A was opened to the boxing press.
Question: James, if you win this fight, you will become the third former middleweight champion to win a portion of the heavyweight title. Can you talk about what it would mean to you to join such an elite company?
Toney: I think it would be a great achievement. I am not fighting an over-the-hill champion to do it. He is willing to fight me and he is the best heavyweight out there right now and I am going to do it in style.
Question: John, if James wins the fight, you will become the only heavyweight champion to ever lose twice to a former middleweight champion, because of what happened with the Roy Jones fight. Does that in any way put pressure on you?
Ruiz: No, it does not. I put pressure on myself to just go out there and do what I intend to do. One thing for sure is I feel that I am the best heavyweight out there and I have to go out there and prove it.
Question: Regarding the state of boxing, a lot of people say that it is in a lull or a down period, the heavyweight division in particular. Could both of you address that?
Toney: My thing is just that things are going to come up because I am in the division right now. It is in the state it is because all the good fighters do not want to fight each other. The promoters put their fighters in with a safe opponent. Everything will blow over eventually.
Ruiz: The whole situation is with the fighters themselves, whether they are willing to take easier fights rather than taking on the best fighters out there and trying to prove to themselves that they are the best. I do not know who it is, whether it is the promoters or the TV or who knows what it is. But it is all up to the fighter too. If the fighter wants to fight, he will get the fights. But that is the main thing.
Question: Is boxing on a downside? Can boxing come back and reach the levels of the 80s, boxing’s last glory days?
Toney: Larry Holmes did not have anybody in his era. Anybody he had was old and decrepit. Now, we have the young fighters today. It all starts April 30. We have a great fight at Madison Square Garden. James “Lights Out” Toney, the one and only, is coming and I am going to take over. Bottom line. Everything else will fall in place. Now for you so-called boxing experts, I bet 95% of you never put any gloves on in the ring and you all have got no business to be talking about boxing.
Question: John, starting with the Hasim Rahman fight, you seem to have shown an anger that up to then had been uncharacteristic of you. At first it seemed to be directed at Roy Jones and then it branched out to the boxing establishment and your opponents. Can you talk about that change in you and how effective it has been for you?
Ruiz: The number one thing to me is that after the Jones fight I actually managed to get some time for myself so I could think. Physically I was always there, but my mentality was never as quite as high. Right now, mentally and physically, I am in top shape and I am ready to take on anybody.
Question: But it does seem to still bother you that rather than people saying you beat him, you feel that they are making excuses for him. Is that accurate?
Ruiz: Well, it does seem like no matter what I cannot catch a break. But it does not matter. My main thing is to go out there and win. That is what boxing is. You go out there and you fight and you win. It is not about looking pretty.
Question: James, can you explain your evolution as a topnotch trash talker?
Toney: I do not start anything unless someone starts with me. I let bygones be bygones. If they want to go to the next level, we can do that too because you know I am great at everything I do. I am a street person for real.
Question: John, you used to be the “Quietman” but now it seems you are trying to be more aggressive in your pre-fight conversations. Can you explain why?
Ruiz: When I first started this journey to becoming the world champion, I thought just by fighting alone would actually make me a commodity. I always told my manager, “You go do the talking or whatever, I am just going to do the fighting.” But it seems like at this point in my career, I finally realized that you have to trash talk to actually get some attention.
Question: James, has it always been your dream to become heavyweight champion?
Toney: I have always said that from day one. I am ready to do it. I do not turn down anything – not even my calendar. The bottom line is I want to fight the best fighters out there. Now I am fighting the best fighter out there, John Ruiz, and it will be something special on April 30. John Ruiz, thank you for giving me the opportunity to take the title: bottom line.
Question: James, what problems does John present to you that Evander Holyfield did not?
Toney: Nothing. I prepare myself accordingly as the fight goes on. I make the necessary adjustments inside the ring. I am knocking him out, flat out. Nothing comes easy in life. The only thing that comes easy is death and taxes. I am going to win the title and it will not be easy, but I am going to do it. I can tell you that.
Question: John, what is your strategy?
Ruiz: My main thing is to go out there and fight and that I have always done. There is no strategy involved. You just train hard, you look forward to the fight, come fight time, you go in and step in that ring and you go out there and fight. That is the one thing that works for me, I adapt very well in each round. I do not see anything going wrong.
Question: James, John’s style is “jab and grab.” Do you have a plan to stay out of his clutches?
Toney: I am the ultimate fighter. I am the manager’s and the trainer’s dream of a fighter because I can adapt to any situation. My skills are so superior to everybody in the boxing world it would be ridiculous to even talk about it. All I can say is be there or to tune in April 30 and watch the crowning of the new champ.
Question: John, do you still feel that you have to prove yourself each and every fight?
Ruiz: I feel I must go out there and fight the best and beat the best because that is my main goal. I feel I am the best because there is nobody out there who wants to fight me. All these other champions take those easy fights, look good on TV and then call themselves the champion. My main thing right now is to go out there and just keep fighting and training hard and looking forward to each fight.
Question: James, do you feel that you are going to outbox Ruiz, go to war with him. or do a little bit of both?
Toney: I do not run. I am a fighter. I was born to fight. I am old school. You know what old school fighters do? They fight. I will be right there and fight. I have never run from anyone in my life. I do not run from anybody but God. That is the only man I fear.
Question: John, you have fought some real wars. Are you ready for yet another?
Ruiz: Well, it seems like Toney has the impression like I have never been to war. It will not be anything new to me. He can bring whatever he wants, because come fight time he had better start throwing punches instead of talking in the ring because he is going to get knocked out.
Question: John, do you feel you are fighting as well as you ever have and are as confident as you have ever been?
Ruiz: Definitely. I feel like in each fight since the Jones fight, I improved myself each time. I am trying to pick up more, throw punches and stuff like that. But sometimes in the heavyweight division, it is nothing new to basically try to bull the other person. Sometimes you must grab them, show them that you are stronger. Make them start thinking that this guy is pretty strong right now. There is a mental warfare in boxing generally and especially in the heavyweight division where you have to force your will on someone else.
Question: John, concerning the Klitschko brothers, which road do both Vitali and Wladimir play in your plan with regard to a heavyweight championship tournament?
Ruiz: The road right now is leading to the unification. That is the number one thing that I want. It is something that I have been craving and longing for. For me, I feel like they are sitting pretty there at HBO, playing guys where who knows where they get them from. But at the same time, these are guys that nobody really knows out there and they are beating them, and looking OK with them. It is something that they get paid good money to fight these so-called fighters, instead of putting their money up for the unification and fighting the top guys. I am fighting top fighters and I am having tough fights and still I am coming out winning, but they do not want to give me the credit for it. But at the same time, these other guys are fighting guys and are having trouble with them. They are basically losing the fight and somehow getting the win and so on, and the public looks at them as one of the best. There is no way they are one of the best.
Question: John, why do you think the perception of you by some of the media is so low?
Ruiz: It is something I can never answer. Sometimes you have to work for the respect, but I have been working very hard and fighting topnotch fighters. I am fighting guys that they predicted to be the next heavyweight champion, I beat them, and then they just change their whole outlook on what they were thinking of this other guy. I just get the backlash of people who would rather put me down than give me credit.
Question: Why did Toney make beating Holyfield look so easy?
Ruiz: You have to realize that Holyfield took too many fights there. When we fought, it was a tough fight. I felt like I won it, but they gave him the decision. He was on top of the world and the heavyweight champion. He should have retired then. The fights after that, he was getting worse and worse. When he fought Chris Byrd, Byrd made him look like he was not even there. Holyfield aged after the trilogy he had with me and never recovered from that.
Question: John, now that David Tua is back, would you like to fight him again and get revenge?
Ruiz: He was the number one person on my list after he beat me. I had been chasing him for so long to get a rematch and it never came, so he became less and less on my list. Right now, he is not even on my list. If he wants to have a heavyweight title fight, he is going to have to earn it. I worked my way through this heavyweight division and it is something I am proud of. After being knocked down and to work all the way up to where I am now takes a lot of courage, and I am just looking forward to this next fight right now.
Question: Do you honestly think Toney is a legit heavyweight and has a future in that division?
Ruiz: Everyone is talking that he is one of the best heavyweights. Who has he fought as a heavyweight to be considered one of the best out there? It is something that puzzles me. When I became number one in the WBC and WBA, everybody was criticizing me, saying that I was not really a number one fighter in the heavyweight division. He should fight somebody in the top-10 to earn that spot. Here is James Toney. He becomes number one. But who has he fought? There is nobody criticizing him, but they are more than willing to criticize me.
Question: Are there any other fights on your radar other than this one right now? Or is this really just because it is a mandatory?
Ruiz: I think right now I respect my belt. I respect my mandatories and that is why I am taking this fight. The real deal for me is the unification. I want to go out there and unify these titles and bring some excitement back to the heavyweight division, which is what it needs right now. They do not need more fights. They need this unification. Otherwise, you might as well cancel the heavyweight division because nobody is really going to watch it.
Question: John, do you have any closing comments?
Ruiz: I hope he realizes that when he comes into that ring, he is fighting me, not Stoney (manager-trainer Norman Stone). Stoney is the man behind me who basically is going to be pushing me on in each round, but at the same time, Toney better know that he is going to have his hands full dealing with me. Never mind thinking about Stony.
Question: John, do you think this fight will go the distance?
Ruiz: My main thing is to always be ready for tall ground. I will be ready for 15-rounds. It is nothing new to me. My main thing is to go out there and fight. That is what I intend to do from the first round on. He can say he is going to knock me out or whatever. He is a durable guy and I am a durable guy. You are going to see a tough fight where one is going to end up being on the mat.
Tickets for “The Turning Point” are priced at $350, $250, $175, $100 and $50 are on sale now at the Garden box office and all Ticketmaster locations or by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171, (201) 507-8900, (631) 888-9000, or (914) 454-3388. Ticketmaster purchases are subject to convenience charges.