On Saturday night in Manchester, England, former two-time heavyweight champion and Chelsea native John Ruiz will get a chance to immortalize his name, joining the likes of Evander Holyfield, Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis.
Ruiz will be taking on WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, and with a win, he will become only the sixth person in history to be a three-time heavyweight champion.
On Wednesday, Ruiz (44-8, 30 KO) discussed the upcoming fight as well as his thoughts on being mentioned in the same sentence as the other heavyweight legends.
“It is going to work this time,” Ruiz said. “No matter what they say, they can’t take it away from me.”
Becoming a three-time champion would be great, but Ruiz already has plenty to be proud of.
“I’ve accomplished a lot during my career,” Ruiz said. “I am the first Hispanic world heavyweight champion.”
Currently, the heavyweight division is dominated by European fighters. Wladimir Klitschko holds the IBF and WBO straps, while his older brother owns the WBC belt. Lately, the American heavyweights just can’t compete, but Ruiz would like to change that. “I was born in the United States, and my family is Puerto Rican,” Ruiz said. “I’m a Puerto Rican-American, and I’m bringing the belt back home.”
Before Ruiz can get his hands on the WBA trinket, he has to go through the heavy-handed, brash, trash-talking Brit Haye (23-1, 21 KO). As if the task wasn’t hard enough, he’ll have to do it on Haye’s home court.
But none of that seems to concern this fighter. “I’ve fought [in England] six times,” Ruiz said — and in those six times, he has compiled a 6-0 record. “These fans put favoritism behind them and root for a good fight.”
Though he is used to being a visitor, Ruiz has no issues fighting anyone, anywhere, anytime. “I’ve fought everybody in the world, never avoiding anybody, and I’m very proud of that,” he said. “I’ve traveled the world and boxing has been a savior for me.”
Most people identify Ruiz as a fighter who hits and holds, but since changing trainers, he promises that he is a much more well-rounded fighter, perhaps even rediscovering the fighter he was when he started in this game. “You’re seeing more of the Ruiz from the past — boxing and punching, not holding,” he said. “I have a new team — trainers Miguel Diaz and Richie Sandoval, and a new promoter, Golden Boy.”
The 38-year-old veteran seems to be in a good place going into Saturday’s title fight. “I’m at peace, blessed with my family, and I’ve never been in tune with boxing like this during my career,” he said.
But Ruiz didn’t stick around this late in the game just to go home empty handed.
“We’re still here,” he said, “and hopefully this time around, we’ll get a win.”
And if he doesn’t emerge victorious on Saturday? He knows that he has nothing to be ashamed of.
“How many guys can say they’ve fought and won two world heavyweight championships?”