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Ruiz Favored To Beat Holyfield
December 5, 2001
Puerto Rico once again will face history in boxing as John Ruíz tries to become the first-ever Puerto Rican heavyweight champion to successfully defend his title.
In fact, Ruiz will be the first Puerto Rican to defend a heavyweight title. The bout will be held in two weeks as Ruíz fights Holyfield for the third-consecutive time.
Their first match-up was Aug. 12, 2000, when Holyfield, then world champion, won a close decision. However, in the end, many saw Ruíz winning the bout. An immediate rematch was ordered, taking place March 3 in Las Vegas at the same site as their first fight.
This time, Ruíz was a convincing winner, sending Holyfield to the canvas in the 11th round. Ruíz ended up winning a unanimous decision, becoming the first Latin American to win a heavyweight title.
Ruiz, now the World Boxing Association heavyweight champion, for the first time, defends his title in a fight that should have been staged Aug. 4 in Beijing, but had been postponed due to an injury to Ruíz.
Now, it's all set for Dec. 15 at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, in Connecticut. The fight will be broadcast on HBO.
So, what are Ruíz's chances of holding onto his heavyweight title? Many think he should beat Holyfield and then go after the winner of the Lennox Lewis-Hasim Rahman bout. That way, the heavyweight division will have an undisputed champion since the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles will be in the hands of the Lewis-Rahman winner.
Still, there are doubts because there's yet another world-boxing entity, the World Boxing Organization, and its heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Germany is considered by many to be the best heavyweight champion of the world.
You have an opportunity to watch Klitschko Saturday, Dec. 1, on HBO as he defends against tough David Izon at the Jacob Javits Center in New York.
"I think Ruíz will win. He showed he was dominant in the first two fights and he comes to this one knowing Holyfield better," said Televicentro Channel 4 sportscaster Rafael Bracero.
"It should be a good one, a battle. But I think Ruíz will dominate Holyfield."
Francisco Valcárcel, WBO president, also believes Ruiz will win because Holyfield is "too old for boxing." "Ruiz is in the peak of his career, while Holyfield's best days in boxing have gone. He simply is boxing because of his name," said Valcárcel.
"I think Ruíz will beat him and then we'll see what's next. But you can't say he, or Rahman, or Lewis, whoever wins the three [WBA, WBC, IBF] titles, is an undisputed champion, because we have our champion Klitschko. I think he can beat Ruiz, Lewis, and Rahman. Just watch Klitschko on Saturday and you'll see he's the most powerful heavyweight right now."
La Super Kadena's José Sánchez agreed with Valcárcel and also believes Ruíz will win because Holyfield will show the world he should be out of boxing.
"I think this will be his last chance. If he has a good fight, he may get a decision. I don't think Holyfield has enough power to win by knockout," said Sánchez. "He got tired in his last fight with Ruíz. That's something the judges will be aware of."
However, not everybody believes Ruíz will beat Holyfield. John Moore, a boxing fan from Isla Verde, thinks Holyfield will win because the heavyweight division needs him.
"[Promoter] Don King would love to see Holyfield win the fight and then set up the rematch with Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. That would leave him with a big payday," said Moore, a native of Atlanta, who moved to Puerto Rico eight years ago.
"It's not because Holyfield is from Atlanta, and I admit I'm a big fan of his. But the reality is that Holyfield, Tyson, and Lewis have been the big names in the heavyweight division and King knows there's still a lot of interest in having them fight rematches. Believe me, a Holyfield rematch with Tyson and/or Lewis is more attractive for boxing fans."