Ruddock swears Tyson will see changed fighter

June 24, 1991|By Phil Berger | Phil Berger,New York Times

LAS VEGAS YZB — LAS VEGAS -- You remember the first time Mike Tyson and Donovan "Razor" Ruddock went at it here. The bout was March 18 and it ended in controversy when referee Richard Steele stopped it in the seventh round with what seemed undue haste, proclaiming Tyson the winner.

Steele's action precipitated a post-fight ruckus in the ring between both fighters' camps and brought a howl of protest from a crowd that only a round earlier had seen Ruddock connect with punches apparently potent enough to register on the Richter scale.

Those punches raised enough questions about Steele's subsequent decision that another 12-round, pay-per-view match between Tyson and Ruddock was quickly arranged.

This bout, Friday at the Mirage, is being billed, in plain English, as "The Rematch."

In the aftermath of the bout in March, each fighter expressed discontent over how the final moments unfolded.

Tyson, whose record is 40-1 with 36 knockouts, said he had been deprived of the pleasure of knocking the 27-year-old Ruddock senseless, an inevitability, he insisted.

Ruddock (25-2-1, 18 knockouts), of course, said that the fight had been stopped too soon, that he was gaining momentum, as Round 6 had shown.

The Canadian's performance against Tyson, 24, in March was a strange one.

Ruddock fought Iron Mike virtually one-handed, throwing haymaker left hooks and left uppercuts and rarely troubling to preface those punches with a jab or camouflage them with his right hand.

Ruddock says he was out of character that night.

"The style wasn't mine," he said. "I was a little macho. I got in there and I wanted to fight him. But I'll tell you this; Tyson knows no other way to fight. He has one style: to come forward and punch. I can change."

In sparring this last week at the Doolittle Community Center here, Ruddock looked like a fighter with a notion to change. He threw the jab, but in truth it was a pawing jab, lacking the sort of conviction that would deter a fighter as intense as Tyson.

And while the right hands he landed against sparring partners Young Joe Louis and Jesse Ferguson had velocity, they paled compared with his withering lefts.

Whether Ruddock will revert to being a one-armed bombardier under the sort of kamikaze pressure Tyson brings remains to be seen.

On March 18, that pressure -- and the magnitude of the fight -- had an adverse affect on Ruddock. From early on, he was breathing heavily, drawing in air in a way that suggested he was virtually hyperventilating.

"When I got out there, yeah, I was too anxious," Ruddock conceded.

Larry McGhee, Ruddock's conditioning aide, refers to "the stress of the moment" in the earlier match.

"There's a Mike Tyson mystique," McGhee said. "It's something to overcome."

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