Former two-time WBA heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz has announced that he’s prepared to replace WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev to fight another former WBA title-holder, Nikolay Valuev, for the WBA belt.
Chagaev pulled out of his scheduled mandatory defense against Valuev in May, reportedly due to a cold that forced him to break training, but Ruslan hasn’t made his initial mandatory defense since capturing the WBA belt on April 14, 2007 via a 12-round majority decision versus Valuev.
His only title defense was a voluntary fight this past January in a 12-round decision against Matt Skelton. WBA champions are required to make a mandatory defense within a year of winning the belt and/or last mandatory defense. Chagaev is officially over the deadline and seeking further delays.
“We have to respect mandatory defenses and if Chagaev isn’t willing or able to fulfill his obligation as champion,” WBA No. 2 rated Ruiz said, “he should step aside so the WBA can move forward instead of standing still. There’s so much speculation about Chagaev.
"First there was Hepatitis B and now another viral infection – it must have moved from his intestines to his throat – and nobody really knows when or if he’ll be able to fight again. We will be filing a letter of petition with the WBA to strip Chagaev and order a fight between me and Valuev for the WBA title.”
Ruiz is also rated No. 3 by the WBC, No. 6 by the IBF, No. 10 by The Ring magazine, and No. 12 by the WBO.
“The heavyweight division drives boxing,” Ruiz added. “Fans are waiting for things to explode, but it seems like the heavyweight champions are holding the title belts hostage. They’re all tied up and don’t want to fight the best heavyweights. No wonder fans criticize heavyweights. I’m ready to clean-up the division and willing to fight any of the world champs or top contenders. How long do I have to wait for my title shot?”
Ruiz is the first and only Latino heavyweight champion of the world. He has fought in 10 world championship fights and defeated three world heavyweight champions -- Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Tony Tucker – as well as top contenders such as Andrew Golota, Fres Oquendo, Kirk Johnson and Jameel McCline during his 15-year pro career.