He's 46-0, with that James Bond-villain visage, that Yao-type height, and if he keeps on keeping on, he's headed for a megamoney showdown with fellow heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko.
But first, 7-0, 320 pound Russian Nikolay Valuev must get past Uzbekistan-born challenger Ruslan Chagaev. The XXL Russian meets the southpaw Chagaev on Saturday in Stuttgart, Germany, and to gain perspective on the scrap, TSS put the call in to a boxer who fought them both, John Ruiz.
“The Quiet Man” has been enjoying a leisurely life in Las Vegas. He was re-married in July 2006, and has been doing diaper duty with son Joaquin, who was born four weeks ago.
Then WBA champion Ruiz faced off with Valuev on December 17, 2005, and the Massachusetts transplant came out on the short end of a majority decision. In his next fight, Ruiz, age 35, went back to Germany to face Chagaev, on Nov. 18, 2006, and was handed a split decision loss.
So, Quiet Man, talk to us. Who'll get the job done in Stuttgart, Valuev (46-0, 34 KOs) or Chagaev (22-0-1, 17 KOs)?
“Whoever steps up,” he said. “Valuev is tall and he wasn't as fast as some people think. But if Chagaev feels overwhelmed by the height and tries to look pretty, and tries to run around and outbox Valuev, instead of bobbing and weaving, he'll have a hard time.”
Ruiz said Chagaev's lefty stance could pose a problem to the 33-year-old Valuev.
“Against Valuev, I had an easier time getting in close, he was more my height (Ruiz is 6-2, Chagaev is 6-1, and usually weighs around 230 pounds for a fight). I needed to work more to stay away from his punches.”
Bottom line it for TSS readers, Jawny, who'll win?
“If Chagaev doesn't get intimidated, he can win, but if he gets intimidated, I think Valuev will kayo him,” Ruiz said. “I don't think Chagaev has the power to kayo Valuev, even though in the heavyweight division of course, anyone can knock out anyone at any given time. I like Chagaev, but Valuev could knock him out.”
In other words, a man who fought both men is leaning towards the 28-year-old Chagaev, but the fight is basically in “Pick 'Em” territory.
So, Ruiz Rooters want to know, will Ruiz lace 'em up again, or will he continue to exult in a lifestyle free of protective cups, spitbuckets and flashbacks of being kissed by Norman Stone after victories?
“I'm enjoying the easy life,” he said. “But if something comes around that would benefit me, I'll take it.”
“I'm happier now,” he continued. “Fighting was something that instead of getting easier, got harder and more stressful. But I saved up some money, and I was wise to do that.”
Amen to that. No athlete more deserves to exit the game with a little nest egg than a fighter.
SPEEDBAG The cable network MSG will broadcast the Valuev/Chagaev scrap. The fight will be telecast live on MSG from Stuttgart on Saturday at 4:30 pm ET. Dave Bontempo will call the fight.