John Ruiz content on retirement but not with Klitschko regime • Latino Sports

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John Ruiz content on retirement but not with Klitschko regime

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New York – John Ruiz roamed the room at Mechanics Hall Saturday evening. The former WBA heavyweight champion, and first Latino of Puerto Rican descent to have that distinction, came to watch the fights up in Worcester Massachusetts.  He posed for photos and signed autographs for the fans before Edwin Rodriquez entered the ring on a DiBella Entertainment Broadway Boxing card of boxing.

“I took enough punches over the years and would rather watch than be in there,” said Ruiz at ringside. In other words, Ruiz is content on retirement and satisfied now sitting at ringside and observing as a fan of the sport. He is content and doing business at home in Boston, concentrating efforts on establishing his new boxing gym and MMA facility in nearby Medford which recently opened.

Though there is that look when you see Ruiz. Every fighter gets an itch to return. An though Ruiz, a two-time champion, known as  “The Quietman” was not the most thrilling heavyweight champion on record, he still made boxing history in a division full of mediocrity. Many probably won’t recall his last fight against David Haye in Manchester England, losing the WBA title by TKO in the 9th round in April of 2010. It was a typical Ruiz fight with minimal punches thrown. Haye would knock down Ruiz twice in the first round, once late in the fifth, and once in the sixth.

There was controversy, as there always was when Ruiz was in the ring. Haye was deducted a point in the first round for hitting the back of Ruiz’s head. But that fight, along with eleven other previous title fights, will be enough to eventually earn him an induction to the Boxing Hall of Fame. His heavyweight title fight with Andrew Golota at Madison Square Garden in New York City back in November of 2004 was not a classic and will not be a part of his legacy.

“My legacy,” he would say, “was winning the WBA title and to try and unify the heavyweight division.” And that was part of the reason, to be believed or not, as to why Ruiz, 40-years of age, decided to hang up the gloves. He could not take the heavyweight division dominance of the Klitschko brother’s regime. The division has always been a backbone of the sport and Ruiz, similar to what Haye tried to do, could not break the Klitschko regime.

“Until they fight each other, who knows if there will be a unified champion,” commented Ruiz about Wladimir and Vitali who hold two –thirds of the heavyweight titles. “You have to go there to fight them,” he said about an American seeking a title shot against the brothers.  And Ruiz, now a proprietor of a training facility has seen the increased interest of young people aspiring to be MMA fighters. “It is taking away from the sport,” he says. “MMA has hurt the ability to help the heavyweight division.”

At one time, Lewis tried to battle Don King. The recently turned 80-year old King was a nemesis, though it was all boxing business when it came to Ruiz trying to get Evander Holyfield again after three previous fights. The first time, Ruiz won the vacant WBA title, lost it, and then gained a split decision. King wanted Ruiz in his stable to get another shot at Holyfield. The rest was history with ensuing legal issues and a bitter taste towards King that may still exist.

“One part was it was good to go to war with King,” he said. But you could not win, when it came to battling King. He wished his adversary a happy birthday and would not comment about a report last week that quoted King saying, “The Klitschko brothers are good big men who are more champions of Germany than of the world.” And King saying that Haye was a terrible disappointment losing to Wladimir.

Ruiz had no comment about supposed racial remarks, King quoted as saying about Haye, “He had the charisma and style to revive heavyweight boxing, but in a stadium full of Germans he became one of many fighters I’ve known who were afraid to hit the white man.”

“I went out there and fought and people don’t forget me,” he said with a smile as another autograph seeker came to say hello. There is no denying that. Ruiz did what he could to make an impact in a heavyweight division at the time that said goodbye to Mike Tyson, and saw the end of Lennox Lewis. He continued to get around a possible comeback saying, “Everyone can’t be as fit as Bernard Hopkins,” referring to the 46-year old light heavyweight champion who made history this year as the oldest to hold a title.

“I enjoy what I am doing now and hope one day the heavyweight division will have one champion,” he said. To do that, it does not matter if the Klitschko regime ends or continues. A former champion such as Ruiz, in a boxing gym, daily, can be the first person to tell you. “They have to want it,” he says.

And as much as Ruiz wanted it, the sport today is not producing the heavyweight the way he went after the title. In all fairness to John Ruiz, he may have not been crafty, not one to get excited about, but he earned a heavyweight title that will always be his.

“Boxing did a lot of good for me,” he says. In essence that is what it is all about.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]

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About William Gerena-Rochet

William Gerena Rochet, is the former Latino Sports baseball editor. He is a retired NYC teacher who divides his time living between New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. He started writing for Latino Sports during the inaugural World Baseball Classic when a series was played in Puerto Rico in 2006. On of his favorite moments was covering the 2006 MLB All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. During his time with Latino Sports, he covered several divisional and League championship series games and the 2009 World Series. He also covered the last game at the old Yankee stadium and the first game of the current one. In closing, William has covered multiples Latino Sports MVP Awards ceremonies and Spanish Language Press Conferences including the Jorge Posada retirement one. Now a contributor, Willie will occasionally cover the Yankees.