When John Ruiz and James Toney square off against each other for the WBA heavyweight world title, the loser will have lost more than just the title and the winner may not have gained much more. If Toney is successful then he would be the second man to ever claim a heavyweight crown, having also enjoyed a distinguished career as a middleweight; the other of course being Roy Jones.
The downside of this is that both men would have achieved this against Ruiz. Immediately Jones’ victory will be tainted and Toney’s soured. Remember how the world erupted when Corrie Sanders demolished “the next big thing” Wladimir Klitshcko in two rounds for the WBO heavyweight world title? But when Lamon Brewster stopped him, suddenly Klitschko was written off and Brewster’s success taken with a pinch of salt. The same could happen to Ruiz and Toney.
If Ruiz loses to another blown-up middleweight, will that be the legacy for which he’s remembered? Toney’s performance will be compared to that of Jones, even though the two boxers have contrasting styles. For his win to hold credibility he needs to stop Ruiz and then go on to defend it against a few natural heavyweights. Before he does that, however, a natural would be Toney vs. Jones.
For some reason, that prospect sounds more exciting than Toney vs. Klitschko.
If Ruiz claims victory critics will say he beat a blown-up middleweight who never really belonged in the heavyweight division in the first place. Ruiz would then need Toney to go on and beat a few credible heavyweights, so either way both boxers’ standing in history depend on what they do next, rather than what they do on fight night. I suspect this bout could be more attractive than the Jones–Ruiz fight and, legacies aside, it is a fight I want to see. That’s the oddest thing about Ruiz matches. Every time I see one, I don’t want to see another, but then he gets matched against someone who could potentially get him to put up a fight and things look interesting. Unfortunately most of the time, after the fight, we’re again left with that same unsatisfied taste in the mouth.
In any event, the prospect of Toney-Ruiz is colorful and let’s hope that these two can deliver the goods. Toney doesn’t have the speed of Jones, which was the key to his win over Ruiz, and for that matter the only thing he does have that Jones doesn’t is a chin. Keeping that in mind, I think Ruiz will tie him up and probably win another boring points decision. Personally I think it would be better for both boxers' careers just to go toe-to-toe and see who drops first . . . or at least it would be more fun for the fans.