Angry at title loss, Ruiz turns his ire to Rahman

Defeat to Jones stays with former WBA champ


December 11, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

The Quiet Man has become the Angry Man. And he wants everyone to know about it.

"It's been a while since I've felt this angry," said boxer John Ruiz. "I'm actually ready to go out and destroy somebody."

Ruiz, nicknamed "the Quiet Man" for his soft-spoken demeanor, aims to take out his frustrations on Baltimore native Hasim Rahman, whom he meets for the World Boxing Association's interim heavyweight title Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

The winner is likely to get a shot at Roy Jones, who lifted the crown from Ruiz, 31, in March with a 12-round unanimous decision. Jones is the main source of Ruiz's ire for failing to grant him a rematch, but Rahman, 31, will be the man standing in front of him Saturday night.

"I know Rahman's a good fighter and he's going to be a tough fight, but I'm up for the challenge, from the first to the 12th round. I just want to go out there and [hurt] you," said Ruiz, adding he planned to weigh between 230 and 235 pounds for the bout.

"To me, Roy Jones isn't even a man anymore. He's a great fighter, but as a person, he's totally [garbage] to me," said Ruiz. "All I did was do everything for [Jones], and all he did was stab me in the back. He should have been a man and said, `Let's do this rematch.' "

Jones opted to drop to light heavyweight, where he lifted another crown from Antonio Tarver, and was given the WBA's blessing to return - as defending champion - to the heavyweight ranks to fight the Rahman-Ruiz winner. Should Jones refuse, Saturday's winner will be declared the outright champion.

Ruiz (38-5-1, 27 knockouts) said Jones benefited from an overprotective referee and from Ruiz's preoccupation with his impending divorce, which became final in June.

"I wasn't even there, mentally, for the Jones fight, but I've got a clear head now. I've not been this angry since the first [Evander] Holyfield fight [a draw]. That frustration of giving it my all, then to have it not go my way, I got even more upset," said Ruiz, referring to his August 2000 bout with Holyfield.

Ruiz brought an 11-fight winning streak against Holyfield and had gone a long way toward erasing from boxing observers' memories his March 1996 loss to David Tua. Ruiz, according to his trainer, Norman Stone, "got caught cold" by the power-punching Samoan heavyweight, resulting in Tua's one-punch, 19-second knockout victory.

Ruiz dropped the aging Holyfield in the 11th round of their March 2001 return bout and went on to take the title with a 12-round, unanimous decision. With his biggest career win, Ruiz became boxing's first Latino heavyweight champ.

"That's the only moment I felt excited in what I've accomplished as a fighter - after that second Holyfield fight," Ruiz said.

Ruiz was mobbed by fans at Boston's Logan Airport upon his return to his hometown of Chelsea, Mass., and subsequently swept away to the White House on President Bush's invitation.

By month's end, Ruiz was visiting his mother in his native Sabana Granda, Puerto Rico, where he lived until he was 6. There, Ruiz was greeted by politicians and fellow Puerto Rican boxing stars during a parade through San Juan in his honor.

"But it [happiness] didn't last that long, because there were too many problems in my personal life," said Ruiz, whose emotions were occupied by his impending divorce and its effects on his 13-year-old son and his 10-year-old daughter.

Ruiz suffered a broken nose in the first round of his third bout with Holyfield in December 2001, and the subsequent draw allowed Ruiz to retain his crown. Ruiz also remained champion after a foul-marred bout with Kirk Johnson in July 2002 ended with Johnson's 10th-round disqualification for too many low blows.

Then came the loss to Jones.

"The only reason we're taking this fight is to get back at Jones," Stone said. "Rock's is a perfect style for Johnny. He likes to fight, Johnny likes to fight. He likes to get inside, Johnny likes to get inside. It's going to be a knockout."

NOTE: is broadcasting live workouts from Bally's Hotel & Casino of the fighters involved in Saturday's card.

Fight facts

Site: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Bouts: In order of scheduled appearance:

Zab Judah (29-1, 21 KOs) vs. Jaime Rangel (29-4, 25 KOs), junior welterweights

Alejandro Garcia (22-0, 21 KOs) vs. Travis Samms (22-0, 17 KOs), super welterweights

Hasim Rahman (35-4-1, 29 KOs) vs. John Ruiz (38-5-1, 27 KOs), heavyweights

Ricardo Mayorga (25-3-2, 22 KOs) vs. Cory Spinks (31-2, 11 KOs), welterweights

William Joppy (34-2-1, 25 KOs) vs. Bernard Hopkins (42-2-1, 31 KOs), middleweights

TV: Pay-per-view

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