John Ruiz won’t be remembered in the legacy of heavyweight champions • Latino Sports


John Ruiz won’t be remembered in the legacy of heavyweight champions


New York – Goodbye John “Quietman” Ruiz. The two–time WBA heavyweight champion announced his retirement from the ring a year ago and recently provided an update about his status.  No, he is not returning to the ring as is so often the case with aging heavyweights and at 39-years of age, Ruiz could get the itch to make a comeback.

But, with Ruiz briefly back in the news, it is time to reflect. The first heavyweight champion of Latino descent, sorry to say, will not be missed. Nor will he ever have an everlasting legacy as one of the greats in the heavyweight division.

That is not to say that Ruiz should be demeaned for his accomplishments. A two-time champion in any division deserves credit where it is due. However, in a time when the heavyweight division was filled with mediocrity, when the heavyweight champion had minimal meaning to the sport, Ruiz did nothing to spark a renewed interest in what once was the proudest accomplishment, that was being crowned and defending the heavyweight championship.

Let’s face the facts. With the departures of Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis there has not been much to talk about with the heavyweights, and for the most part the Klitschko brothers have dominated.  The heavyweight division and champions has been nothing but an alphabet soup of names. Name the champions that currently hold title reigns within the major sanctioning bodies of the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO?

A true test for a boxing purist, and for the fan at times, is naming who holds what belt. And over the course of the years when Ruiz was in the mix, his name was not identified as one of the premiere heavyweights. Because boxing has become a sport of alphabet soup organizations and the heavyweight champion was always the one that epitomized the sport, the letters WBA only diminished the significance of a division where Ruiz spent most of his time.

He had 12 title fights and finished with a 44-9-1, 30 KO record. Good credentials and they will be recognized when his name comes up for enshrinement into the Boxing Hall of Fame. And this writer will give Ruiz consideration for enshrinement because the WBA title is recognized as a major part of the championship. And Ruiz never backed down from an opponent and can’t be blamed for the politics of not having the undisputed claim of champion to his name. He left the sport at a time when Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko still held two of the four heavyweight titles.

 And the Klitschko’s will never make an attempt to unify the division, as they constantly avoid the question of facing each other to try and get some unity to a once and proud title of the sport. Regardless of opinion, and Ruiz had his critics, he still had an impact on the sport. Because Ruiz will always be known as a heavyweight champion, and in boxing circles that is enough to be recognized to be in company with great names of the past.

As Ruiz enjoys retirement with family in Las Vegas he has plans of opening a boxing gym up north in Massachusetts. He has ambitions of training kids and surely there will be one or more questions as to his legacy. There will continue to be questions as to where Ruiz stands with modern heavyweights. And there will always be questions about John Ruiz and what he gave us in the ring.

Was it a legacy?  He was known as the “Quietman” and for a reason. When Ruiz did his business it was the way he wanted to. However, one will never forget how Ruiz could put a crowd to sleep with his hugging over an opponent. That night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, November 13, 2004 against Andrew Golota, is not a heavyweight title fight that will go in the annals as a classic.

Ruiz went down twice during the fight. From the beginning it was Ruiz and Golota hugging like two polar bears trying to find an escape route. They put the sold-old Garden crowd to sleep and they heard boos, a disgrace for boxing and at the venue known as the Mecca of boxing.

Ruiz would retain the WBA title with a 12-round unanimous decision, and we were thankful that championship bouts were no longer 15-round affairs. It was that bad and yet Ruiz thought he fought his type of fight. And his last fight, April of last year at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, where he lost the WBA title to David Haye by TKO in round 9, was not any better.

Haye emerged as some hope for the heavyweight division, and Ruiz went out quietly once again.  Later Ruiz would say it was his last, but once again it was done with little or no fanfare as his legacy would state. He left an impact as the quiet, boring, and nice guy who had a share of the heavyweight title when the championship had no value.

The heavyweight championship remains with no value. John Ruiz did not help make it valuable again. The three fights with Evander Holyfield were not memorable as it pertains to the great trilogies of boxing, and his 12-round unanimous decision loss to Roy Jones Jr. in 2003 was nothing to brag about.

John Ruiz wanted to make a difference and add value again to the heavyweight division. It will be a tough call to decide if he gets Hall of Fame recognition. But never put him in that category of legacy among heavyweight champions.

The good thing is John Ruiz no longer aspires to be in the ring again as he begins the valuable journey of helping young people with their goals

e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]




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.