The CyberBoxingZone News

Holyfield Claims WBA Title

JD Vena from Ringside
LAS VEGAS, NV - During the days leading up to the Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz fight, there were many skeptics who questioned the legitimacy for their fight
and what it was for.  Two things were proved after the hard fought WBA Heavyweight title fight last night.  One was that Evander Holyfield, at 37 years of age, can still fight, and the other that John "The Quiet Man" Ruiz deserved to be where he was on Saturday night at the Paris Las Vegas Casino Resort. After their controversial 12-round battle, Ruiz proved that he deserves to meet the now four-time champion, Holyfield again.  In a surprise to the Showtime audience and the 8, 558 spectators in attendance at the Paris, Holyfield won a close, unanimous decision to become only the second man in history to win the WBA heavyweight title on four occasions.  Only Muhammad Ali had accomplished the feat before by beating Sonny Liston (in '64), Ernie Terrell (in '66), George Foreman (in '74) and Leon Spinks (in '78).

    The win for Holyfield wasn't easy by any stretch for a man, who was predicted by many to have an easy time with Ruiz, the WBA number one contender.  As a matter of fact, many, including Ruiz' skeptics in the media felt that Ruiz should have walked away with the decision.  Whichever way you saw the fight, John Ruiz shocked many people (except this writer) in nearly sidetracking Holyfield's quest.  As a 4-1 underdog, Ruiz opened many eyes that refused to see his credibility as a title threat.  Many won't forget losing the many wages they bet against Ruiz, who was picked by Vegas odds makers to not go past the 8th round.  Judge Fernando Viso saw Holyfield as a 116-112 winner while judges, Duane Ford and Dave Moretti scored the fight 114-113 (as the CBZ had it) for Holyfield.

    As the first round commenced, Holyfield (37-4-1, 25 KO's), 221, was met by a fierce and determined, John Ruiz (224) and would admittedly have a difficult time finding ways of hitting him.

    "Everyone tried to convince me that John wasn't a good fighter but I wouldn't believe them," said Holyfield.  "Everyone always fights me tough and I knew he'd make the best out of his opportunity.  (Ruiz) was one of the first guys I've fought where I had a tough time figuring out how to fight him. I could never hit him with anything I wanted to throw whether it was because he was coming in too low or because he was just crowding me."

    Ruiz began fast, just as he has in each of his 11 previous fights since his haunting 19-second loss to David Tua in March of 1996.  "The Quiet Man" forced Holyfield backwards and landed some hard shots on the inside.  After the first two rounds, which Ruiz took on two of the judge's scorecards, Holyfield settled into his counterpunching mode.  Midway through the 3rd round, Holyfield timed Ruiz' right hand with one of his own.  Ruiz absorbed it on the temple and nearly crumbled to the canvas.  It was the stamina and savvy of Ruiz that kept him from bowing out early as most suspected. The right hand that Evander hit Ruiz with was the same that knocked Adilson Rodriguez out for several minutes in '89.  It was also the shot that sent Mike Tyson across the ring in their classic duel four years ago.  Proving his skeptics wrong, Ruiz survived the biggest scare he would encounter for the remainder of the night 

    Entering the fourth round, Ruiz altered his game plan and began moving in circles, this time bating Holyfield to come after him.  This strategy was successful for Ruiz as his underrated left jab bounced off the face of Holyfield.  Throughout his career, Holyfield has always had trouble fighting opponents who don't come forward.  It became increasing clear that Holyfield was becoming frustrated with Ruiz tactics and was in for a long night.  Every time Ruiz would bend his knees and jab Holyfield to the body, Holyfield would try to slip the punch and grab Ruiz' arms.  On at least four occasions, Holyfield threw Ruiz to the floor without being penalized by referee Richard Steele. As a result, both combatants had compelling opinions about one another's style.

    "He was a very awkward fighter," said Holyfield.  "He leads with his head and I wasn't able to land the punches I wanted to because he fought a defensive fight."

    "Holyfield threw everything at me, including elbows and head butts," said Ruiz.  "I'm surprised he didn't knee me."

    What may have surprised Ruiz was how much the Real Deal had left coming down the stretch.  Behind on two of the judge's tallies after 8 rounds, Holyfield fought successfully as the aggressor to win over the judges.

    Some however, were not impressed with Holyfield's late effort, including Team Ruiz, who pointed to an 11th round low blow and an elbow which broke his nose in the 12th frame.

    "Plain and simple, if Richard Steele wasn't the referee tonight, John Ruiz is the WBA champion," said an angered Norman Stone, the manager for Ruiz.

    "I thought I won the fight," said Ruiz.  "I was very shocked at the judges' decision.  But it is up to them.  Richard Steele told me he was going to watch out for those tactics but I guess he either wasn't watching or lied about it"

    These actions could have had an effect on Ruiz' performance in the final two rounds.  Had Ford or Moretti scored one of those rounds for Ruiz or deducted at least one point from Holyfield, the bout would have been declared a majority draw, guaranteeing a rematch.  Holyfield also broke Ruiz nose with an elbow something Norman Stone, Ruiz manager asked Steele to look out for prior to the bout.  Needless to say, the fight was intriguing and close enough to merit a rematch between the two men who are both promoted by Don King.

    "I'm going to keep working on my career, but this was a big setback," said Ruiz.  "This is something that I've been dreaming about.  I want to fight him again."

    During the post-fight press conference, Holyfield accepted Ruiz' immediate challenge.  With IBF and WBC heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis tentatively scheduled to face Tua in November and clearly uninterested to fight Holyfield a third time, a rematch sounds plausible. 

Though Holyfield, unlike many, considers himself a 4-time champion, he is still adamant about unifying the three alphabet belts before calling it quits.

    "(Critics) can look at (this fight) any way they want. It is not what people say.  I'm not going anywhere.  I am the WBA champion.  Lennox has two belts and I have one.  I will give John Ruiz a rematch.  I'll fight anybody.  "I'll fight Lennox or Mike Tyson if those fights can be made.  If they are in a position to fight, then I'll fight anybody.  I will fight until I win it."

After four years, everyone now knows that John Ruiz has always felt the same way.

Promoter - Don King Productions



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