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On December 13th in Atlantic City two former heavyweight champions will fighting for their career survival. Hasim "Rock" Rahman will take on former W.B.A. title claimant John Ruiz. This is considered as a W.B.A. eliminator. Roy Jones Jr. will be mandated to defend his title against the winner. Roy has already outclassed Ruiz over twelve rounds to win the title. Would a rematch be any different ?
It is very likely that Jones-Ruiz II will never happen. The biggest reason is "Rock" Rahman. Now Jones-Rahman...well that could be very interesting. First Jones has to take care of Antonio Tarver. Then he may entertain a cruiserweight match up with old foe James Toney. Then Rahman or Ruiz. Can John beat Rahman ?
This is a career defining bout for Ruiz. Right now many in the boxing community considered him a "cheese champion". Even as a titleholder I don't believe John ever cracked the top five. In a lot of cases he was rated below the top ten. This was a man who held a piece of the championship. He was the Rodney Dangerfield of boxing receiving "no respect". His trilogy with aging Evander Holyfield was probably among the most boring 36 rounds of non-action you'll ever witness.
To me John's best performance was his title retaining DQ victory over Kirk Johnson. Regardless of the low blows that led to Kirk's DQ, I had Ruiz beating Johnson. Then came the Roy Jones debacle.
If John loses to Rahman he will probably go down in history as one of the heavyweight divisions worst title claimants. Sad but very true. He will go down as a footnote during the reign of Lennox Lewis. Many now feel that John is the second best heavyweight in Puerto Rico behind Fres Oquendo. John needs to win this fight to salvage respect for his well guided career. He was in the right place at the right time in beating Evander for the crown. He was kept away from Lewis in a bout that would have been a unification but stirred little fan interest. He kept the crown for a while. He'll always be in the record books as a champion and he made some money. What more can a manager do for his fighter ?
I just can not see Ruiz winning this fight. This is a good match up for Rahman. Ruiz is still a marquee name and an ex-titleholder. A victory over John will look good on his already impressive resume.
Hasim is too big and too strong. He has a solid jab and is the better banger.Ruiz is game, tough and has a pretty good chin despite the Tua affair. John just got caught cold in that one. Ruiz may not have all the talent in the world but he has shown a champion's heart and he must be respected for that.
I look for Rahman to take command early behind his jab and then eventually break Ruiz down. "The Rock" by one sided decision or late round KO.
By Jim Amato
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