December 12, 1999
A long time trainer from the Somerville Boxing Club named Frank sat down
with me yesterday and told me a tale of John "The Quiet Man" Ruiz. It was
approximately four years ago when Ruiz strolled into the gym to hear some
buoyant news from his manager Norman Stone. Stone (called Stoney among his
peers) was elated to tell his promising heavyweight that he had arranged for
him to fight in England. Ruiz' reply, "Good." Ruiz continued to walk to his
dressing room, got dressed and worked out for two hours. Passing Stoney on
his way out, Ruiz said "See ya later."
For the Quiet Man it didn't concern him who he was fighting, what his
opponent's record was, how big he was or what he may have been ranked. All
that mattered to the now WBC number one contender was that he would have
someone to knock out in a month or two to prepare him for his ultimate goal,
winning the heavyweight championship of the world.
This past Friday, Ruiz would discover that his scheduled opponent Jade
Scott who was meet Ruiz in a 12 round contest for his WBA North American
title would not show up. As a result, Ruiz who had hoped to showcase his
talents on Showtime would not be given the opportunity to be seen on the
triple header last night in Tunica, Mississippi.
Instead, Ruiz would be served up with a braver opponent in Washington's
Thomas "Top Dawg" Williams who he would destroy with a volley of head and
body shots at :50 of the second round. The win improved Ruiz record to 36-3,
27 KO's. Top Dawg moves down to 24-7, 15 KO's. Despite not having the
opportunity to fight on live television, Ruiz' hopes in securing a March
showdown with the WBC #2 contender Michael Grant remained optimistic.
The change in schedule provided an entertaining replacement between young
knockout artist, WBO Jr. Welterweight Champion Randall Bailey and long time
contender Hector Lopez. Challenging for the third and probably last time for
a world title, Lopez fought competitively with Bailey until being betrayed by
his ring rust, unsteady legs and stopped after absorbing an accumulation of
sharp punches at 2:00 of the 9th round.
Lopez who had not fought since May of '98 showed signs of durability and
craftiness throughout the fight but was not enough to overcome the right
lands that were landing and felled him twice. Moments before the second
knockdown, Lopez' weakened legs caused him to fall from being off balanced.
The second knockdown convinced referee Fred Steinwider III that the gallant
Lopez had had enough.
In the main event, newly crowned Byron "The Hamma from Bamma" Mitchell
retained his WBA Super-Middleweight title by questionable 12 round draw with
French #1 contender Bruno Girard. Girard in his first attempt at winning a
world title survived the power punches which dethroned "Fabulous" Fankie
Liles in June to outhustle an overconfident Byron Mitchell, the only reigning
American of the supermiddle world titlists. One of those punches, a vicious
right uppercut fractured the nose of the light-punching Frenchman (5 KO's in
his 36-3-1 record) in the third round but only made him grit his teeth for
the remainder of the 12 round punch-a-thon.
Girard consistently worked Mitchell on the inside, moving underneath
Mitchell's telegraphed power punches and outlanding the champion three
punches to one. The Sunday punch Mitchell relied on landing never did as the
bout went the full route.
Mitchell (20-0-1, 16 KO's) who appeared surprised at the verdict
acknowledged after the fight that it had been as close as the three appointed
judges indicated in their scoring. Colombian judge Uriel Aguilera scored the
fight 115-113 for Girard. Fred Steinwinder of Mississippi had it 116-114 for
Mitchell and the other American judge, New Yorker Samuel Viruet, saw a
114-114 draw. The CBZ had it Girard's way at 115-113.
Promoter - Don King Productions
Television - Showtime
At TV side - J.D. Vena