Much of the boxing media is abuzz with the prospect of recent Mike Tyson conqueror, Irishman Kevin McBride, facing freshly reinstated WBA belt-holder John Ruiz.
While it is difficult to imagine McBride and Ruiz in the same ring for any “world” title, both men appear to be on a collision course.
If the WBA title ever meant something, it is quickly spiraling in a downward thrust of irrelevance.
McBride, 33-4-1 (28 KOs), now fighting out of Boston, appears to be an affable and earnest performer. He has also been knocked out by DaVarryl Williamson, Michael Murray, Axel Schulz and Louis Monaco. Does any of that inspire confidence that he is going to chop down the best heavyweights?
Did anyone really watch McBride's debacle with Tyson? Clearly Tyson was nothing close to his prime and just as clearly McBride did not exhibit anything that would suggest he should be fighting for a world title.
The so-called “Clones Colossus” did not suddenly explode with once-hidden talent. He outlasted a shell of a former champion.
Although he is riding an 8-fight win streak, not one of his opponents is in the top ten, and only Tyson in that group has ever been a top fighter. In fact McBride has never beaten a currently or previously rated fighter other than Tyson.
But, one may ask: if McBride were in the WBA ratings, wouldn’t a win over even a diminished Tyson give him a boost? The easy answer is an emphatic no.
McBride is not rated in the WBA heavyweight top 15 (according to the ratings published on the WBA website which are listed as having been “created” on June 5th 2005).
It wouldn’t be unusual for a fighter to not be rated, defeat a top fighter, and then find his way into the ratings. In this case, however, Mike Tyson (that supposed top fighter) is himself not rated in the top 15.
(As a matter of full disclosure, I must admit that in my latest top 25 ratings – published before the McBride fight – I rated Tyson number 14. But of course my ratings do not count for the WBA.)
It will prove interesting to see the justification in elevating McBride to a position enabling him to fight for the championship. It seems the sanctioning body is just begging for the U.S. government to get its tentacles into the sport. What a disaster that would of course be – but that’s a story for another day.
The WBA heavyweight ratings have experienced some problems of late that have many of us scratching our heads. See The Sweet Science's own Charles Jay article (“An Insult to My Intelligence”) on the oddities associated with the WBA heavyweight ratings of late.
Our problem today is that it’s not just a case of an inferior challenger getting an undeserved title shot – that happens all the time – but in John Ruiz we have a sitting champion who holds a less-than-stellar claim to the title.
Ruiz, 41-5-1 (28 KOs), now out of Chelsea, Mass., a loser and winner in his last fight, clearly should not be a champion today.
James Toney thoroughly dominated their fight only to be stripped of the title for a positive post-fight test for steroid use (Apr. 30, 2005). Their fight was declared a no-contest and the belt was returned to Ruiz.
This was not the first time he was awarded the title without facing a champion after losing a title fight.
He was clearly beaten by Roy Jones, only to be allowed to fight for an interim title when Jones gave up the title to return to the light heavyweight division. He slogged past Hasim Rahman and was later named champion when Jones decided not to return to the division.
More recently he was clearly beaten by Andrew Golota in their WBA title tiff Nov. 13, 2004. In that bout he was on the deck twice and had a point deducted but still pulled out the decision. We all know what happened to Golota in his next fight – a first round knockout at the hands of Lamon Brewster.
That’s not to say that Ruiz has earned the scorn that much of the boxing public dishes on him.
He has some solid victories over guys he wasn’t supposed to beat: Fres Oquendo (Apr. 17, 2004); Hasim Rahman (Dec. 13, 2003); and Evander Holyfield, though he was in decline (Mar. 3, 2001).
But in each of those bouts, as well as in most of his fights, it was painful to watch due to the holding, wrestling, and only occasional punching — all elements of Ruiz’s game plan.
In all honesty, he will be clearly favored to beat McBride and that means we'll have to suffer through not only the McBride fight but another Ruiz defense down the road.
If this fight comes to fruition, the WBA may give the people pushing for a federal commission the best ammunition they’ve had in quite some time.
McBride has ample opportunity to prove himself against top heavyweights and will undoubtedly cash-in on his Tyson victory. Let him do it in bouts for something less than the world championship.
Ruiz, seemingly always looking for public acceptance, once again has the opportunity to put himself in against top competition to prove that he is worthy. Let him attempt to unify the belts against Chris Byrd, Lamon Brewster and Vitali Klitschko – all of whom would be favored to beat him.
Somebody please stop this fight before it’s too late.