- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

Roy Jones Jr. did it, and he did it with ease, so you've got to give him his due for beating the bigger man, heavyweight John Ruiz, and winning the World Boxing Association championship Saturday night in Las Vegas.
But despite promoter Don King's claims, Jones is no Superman. He might not even be the Green Lantern.
Jones the undisputed light heavyweight champion made history by becoming the first fighter to go from the middleweight championship to the heavyweight title over the course of his career since Bob Fitzsimmons did it in Carson City, Nev., in 1897. And Jones did it much easier than did Fitz, who was losing his fight against heavyweight champion James Corbett until he stopped the title holder in the 14th round with a body shot that took the air right out of Corbett.
Jones was never in trouble against Ruiz in winning an overwhelming unanimous decision. He didn't have a mark on him when the fight was over, while Ruiz was so bloody and bruised his nose was spread all over his face he had to go to the hospital after the fight.
Jones, who came into the fight weighing 199 pounds, hit Ruiz, who weighed about 223 by fight time, whenever he wanted to and hit him hard enough for the bigger man to back off and fight like "Johnny Louise," the nickname he had among fighters in the division who really knew the score about the so-called WBA heavyweight champion of the world.
"This means that I am the baddest," Jones said. "Only Ali can shock the world like I did."
Not hardly. John Ruiz was a fraud. A paper champion. A title holder only through the politicking of King, his promoter. And as wonderful as Jones was Saturday night, you can't lose the perspective that he beat a fighter who had no resemblance to a true heavyweight champion.
That wasn't Larry Holmes across the ring from Jones. That wasn't Joe Frazier throwing punches. That wasn't Joe Louis coming out of the corner.
Michael Spinks was the only light heavyweight champion (before Jones) to win the heavyweight title when he beat Holmes. When he tried it, light heavyweight champion Bob Foster got knocked out by Frazier in two rounds. Light heavyweight champion Billy Conn was beating Louis when he got tagged and knocked out by Louis in the 13th round.
Spinks easily could have dispatched of Ruiz, as Jones did. Foster would have killed him. Heck, Foster is 64, and he probably still could beat Ruiz. Conn is dead, so he might have some trouble.
Before he fought for the WBA championship, the best fighter John Ruiz ever faced was David Tua, and he knocked Ruiz out in 19 seconds. He came back to win his next 11 fights but against nobody of any note. He stopped former champion Tony Tucker in 11 rounds, but Tucker was way past it by then. And his last fight before he moved to the No.1 ranking in the WBA was against Thomas Williams, who he stopped in two rounds. Williams, from the District, was accused of throwing a fight against Richie Melito in a federal criminal case still pending in the courts. That fight took place in August 2000 strangely enough, on the undercard of Ruiz's first fight against Evander Holyfield for the vacant WBA title.
The most important thing that Ruiz did in his comeback was to sign with King, who used his misleading record against stiff opponents and King's powerful influence to move him to the No.1 ranking by the WBA. King was positioning himself to hang on to a piece of the heavyweight title, which he knew he would lose if Lennox Lewis defeated Holyfield in their rematch in November 1999. Lewis won that fight, which made him undisputed heavyweight champion the holder of the three major belts, the WBA, the World Boxing Council and the International Boxing Federation.
That left King, who doesn't promote Lewis, with no heavyweight title, but he made sure that didn't last long. Lewis opted to fight Michael Grant for a bigger payday in April 2000 rather than fight a mandatory challenge against Ruiz for about one-third of the money, and so the WBA stripped Lewis of their title and set up a fight for the vacant belt between the top two ranked challengers Ruiz and Holyfield, both promoted by King.
What followed then was a remarkable trilogy of fights between Ruiz and Holyfield remarkable in the sense that when fighters face each other a third time, it is because their previous battles were so memorable and compelling. But you would be hard pressed to find three worse heavyweight title fights than the ones between Ruiz and Holyfield, and what made it worse, they all lasted 12 rounds. Ruiz presented an awkward style that was difficult for Holyfield, plus Ruiz used all the tactics in the dirty fighters handbook head butts, elbows, the works. Holyfield is hardly an angel, either, so these fights resembled wrestling matches more than heavyweight title fights. Holyfield won the first one; Ruiz won the second, which made him the WBA champion; and they drew in the third fight. There was no fourth for fear it finally would result in the abolition of boxing. Then Ruiz was losing to Kirk Johnson in his last title defense before Johnson got stupid, developed Andrew Golota disease and was disqualified for repeated low blows.
This is the heavyweight champion Roy Jones beat Saturday night.
Before he left to get his nose put back in the right place, Ruiz refused to give Jones credit for his accomplishment. "How can I give [Jones] any credit when the referee wouldn't let me fight my fight?" he said. "Every time I went in, the referee was accusing me of holding."
Please. The only thing that stopped Ruiz from going in was Jones' left hand. To find a referee who would let Ruiz fight his fight, you would have to call Vince McMahon.
Ruiz was right about one thing, and that is not giving Jones more credit than he deserves. He took a shot and beat someone who everyone believed finally presented a challenge for him.
But just like John Ruiz was no heavyweight champion, Roy Jones Jr. is no Superman. He didn't leap any tall buildings in a single bound Saturday night. He just exposed the pathetic state of heavyweight boxing.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide