"Iʼm trying to change the minds of the fans one fight at a time."
These are the words that two time heavyweight champion, John Ruiz, kept saying in our interview yesterday. "I know I havenʼt been the type of guy to fill the arena, so to speak." Ruiz has no delusions on how he is perceived. It is in any forum or article after one of his fights. He is not an action fighter. He has a hit and hold style that will lull any fighter to sleep, along with the audience.
But Ruiz wants to change that perception. He has a new trainer, a new camp and a great attitude. "I want to do the exact opposite of what I used to do. Iʼm working on changing my style."
When we caught up with Ruiz he was at his home in Las Vegas with his wife Marybel.
Saddoboxing: Coming off your dominating win over Jameel McCline, where do you think this places you in the heavyweight landscape?
John Ruiz: "I feel very confident. There have been no new names at the top of the division for a while. I want to go after the guys I havenʼt fought. I feel very good and I am willing to fight anybody."
SB: You looked fresh in your last fight nearly pitching a shut out. What have you done differently to put on such a performance?
JR: "I feel rejuvenated. I have changed my camp. I have brought on Manny Siaca. I feel motivated for the first time in a while. I feel like a student again. Iʼm learning so much. With my old people I felt like I was teaching them. I just feel so good about the people I have around me."
SB: Who in particular, in the division do you have your sights on right now?
JR: "Really, Iʼm looking for that title shot. Iʼm ranked #3 by the WBC, #2 by the WBA and what, 11 by the WBO? Iʼm looking at Sam Peter. Jameel McCline had him down a few times and look what I did to him. Iʼd like to fight Wladimir Klitschko also. Iʼm just looking to get another title shot."
SB: So youʼre not looking at the winner of the Nicolai Valuev vs.Ruslan Chagaev winner to avenge one of the losses?
JR: "I mean, if that happens Iʼll fight them. I have never ducked anyone. Itʼs just whenever Iʼve fought these guys, itʼs been in Germany. I donʼt feel like I can get a fair decision there. I mean, donʼt get me wrong, I love the place. I just know when Iʼm there I need a knockout or a shutout."
SB: Speaking of those to men, John, how do you think Valuev vs.Chagaev II will play out?
JR: "If Valuev allows Chagaev to box once again and doesnʼt assert himself as the bigger guy then it will be the same result."
SB: So you think Chagaev wins again?
SB: Who of the two of them would you prefer to fight again?
JR: "I like fighting tall guys. I donʼt know what it is. I just feel much more comfortable in the ring against a taller. Iʼd fight either of them. I do want to go up against Klitschko or Peter, though."
SB: When fighting McCline you seemed to score with general ease. This was the same man that floored the WBC champ Sam Peter. What was the chink in his armor that you saw that allowed you to land in such a way?
JR: "Like I said. I like fighting taller guys like McCline. When you fight a tall guy you can just go out and work the body. Shorter guys give me more problems. You never know what theyʼre going to do, box or fight. I guess they make me think more."
SB: When you were a champion you defended your title in places like Germany. Can we expect more of this "anytime, anyplace" type of attitude?
JR: "Yes, I feel more confident this time around. I want to change the minds of the fans one fight at a time. I will fight anywhere and anyone."
SB: You weighed in at 233 lb, your lowest weight in five years. What did you add to your regimen to get you to the scales so lean?
JR: "Iʼve been doing a lot more roadwork in a place called Red Rock near where I live in Vegas. There are a lot of hills. Thatʼs really it. My team worked me a lot harder and I guess that is why I feel so confident at this point in my career."
SB: I have a question about the Jones fight back in ʼ03. What made you try to box in that fight, rather then assert yourself as the bigger man?
JR: "Well, if you remember the first round I was going inside. I was trying to muscle him a bit. I went in and the referee instantly broke us up. I was thrown a definite curve ball. I was having some personal problems outside the ring and I can honestly say that that was the first time in my life that I gave up on myself. I was beaten mentally in the first round. After the fight I felt terrible about that loss. I still do."
SB: Youʼve stormed back into the ratings at #3 by the WBC, #2 by the WBA and cracked #11 by the WBO, any closing thought?
JR: "It feels good being ranked in the top ten and also by Ring Magazine. I am just really working on changing myself. My new team and I are working on new things. I want to change the minds of the fans from thinking that I am a boring fighter one fight at a time."
SB: John, thank you for taking the time out of your day to speak with us. It has been a pleasure and good luck in all your future endeavors.
JR: "Thank you for speaking with me. Anytime."