This Saturday night’s heavyweight championship fight between current and two-time World Boxing Association champion John Ruiz and three-time world champion and future hall-of-famer James Toney has been tabbed the “Turning Point” by promoter extraordinaire Don King – citing the ramifications this fight could have on the overall climate of today’s muddled heavyweight division.
Whether this fight has that much impact, one way or another, on the heavyweight landscape remains to be seen. Ruiz, (41-5-1 with 28 KOs) from Chelsea,
Massachusetts, wants to unify the heavyweight title and to date has had no takers from the other belt holders (Vitali Klitschko, Chris Byrd or Lamon Brewster) on his offer. Toney, (68-4-2 43 KOs) the Michigan native now training and residing in Los Angeles, talks like he already is the heavyweight champion – instead of the WBA’s mandatory challenger.
Even so, Mr. King has to be commended and applauded for his precise correctness in promoting this fight card as the “Turning Point”; maybe not for John Ruiz, probably not for James Toney, but definitely for Israel Garcia.
Israel Garcia? Yes, Israel Garcia.
The unequaled Madison Square Garden will play host to this Don King Productions and Goossen Tutor Promotions co-promoted event, which will be televised live on HBO.
New York’s Israel “King Kong” Garcia (14-1 8 KOs) returns to the ring on April 30th. Garcia hasn’t fought since August 31, 2002 (TKO 5 win against Barry Lineberger) and will be facing a very tough opponent in Andriy Oliynyk (10-2 with 9 KOs) from Ubekistan. Oliynyk’s two losses have come at the hands of formidable contenders Yanqui Diaz (14-1) and Vladimir Virchis (17-0), with the Virchis bout being the pro-debut for both fighters!
Garcia’s layoff of over 2½ years – which was attributed to contractual problems with former promoter Cedric Kushner – did not leave the former prospect idle. Staying busy as a main sparring partner for John Ruiz, Garcia was instrumental in getting “The Quietman” ready in his last two title defenses against Fres Oquendo and Andrew Golota.
The once highly-touted Garcia realizes that time isn’t on his side and his thirty-two months of inactivity didn’t do anything to enhance his professional career. “I haven’t done anything much to this point. This fight is a turning point for me, and with Don King as my new promoter I’m ready,” stated the 34-year-old Garcia. “I’m running everyday and training hard, giving it my best shot. I was never able to do that before.”
Garcia’s fight probably won’t get to be seen by the HBO viewers. That bout will be tucked beneath the Larry Donald vs. Ray Austin and DaVarryl Williamson vs. Derrick Jefferson heavyweight bouts, as well as the main event.
Realizing that he is, in a sense, starting over, Garcia is practically starting at the bottom – one of the opening bouts on the “Turning Point” fight card, and up against a difficult and dangerous foe.
“It hasn’t been easy,” exclaimed the likeable Garcia who trains at New York’s Fort Apache gym, “but my daughter and son and wife Judith have been with me through all of this!”
The Israel Garcia vs. Andriy Olynyk fight looks to be a “don’t miss” fight, as does the John Ruiz vs. James Toney main event.
Tickets are still on sale at the Madison Square Garden box office and at all TicketMaster locations; or by calling TicketMaster at (212) 307-7171, (201) 507-8900, (631) 888-9000 or (914) 454-3388.
HBO’s live broadcast begins at 10PM (ET), 7PM (PT).