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The Latino ChampionshipBy Jim Amato
Well Latino boxing fans can no longer claim a piece of the world heavyweight championship. Roy Jones Jr. has put an exclamatory end the tenure of John Ruiz. The question that may be asked now is this. Where does John Ruiz go from here ?
Let us put this situation in a better light. In being a former title claimant John still has some marketability. He also has a lot to prove.
If John were to retire tomorrow, it is a very good possibility that he would go down in history as one of the worst to ever hold a piece of the crown. He needs to do something to erase the stigma of being forever known as a "Cheese Champion". But what ?
A rematch with Jones is very doubtful. Who would buy it ? Roy was so dominant in their fight that few could envision a Ruiz victory in a return. Lennox Lewis could use John for an easy payday but that would also be another hard sell to the public. How about a rematch with David Tua who expressed interest in meeting John before his loss to Jones ? Chris Byrd would probably box Johnny's ears off. How about Tyson ? This would be a good high profile for Mike against a former champ who many would consider a safe opponent on the way to a Lewis rematch.
I guess Corrie Sanders could defend his bogus W.B.O. crown against John if he could side step the rematch clause with Klitschko. John could meet the rejuvenated Kirk Johnson who recently bombed out Lou Savarese. I just hope no one makes a Ruiz-Holyfield IV match. The first three were dreadful enough.
I guess the fight that makes the most sense to me right now for John is matching him with Fres Oquendo for the unofficial Latino heavyweight title. This could have the makings of an interesting shoot out. Oquendo is very much in the title picture with his kayo victory over Maurice Harris. If Fres cannot attain a shot at one of the four title pieces, a fight with Ruiz would be a logical choice for him.
What would happen if these two met ? Oquendo struggled against Harris who is not a top ten fighter before scoring the big KO. We all saw how bad John looked against Jones. I just keep wondering why John wasn't more aggressive when he met Roy. He was somewhat successful in the first round of their bout when he took the fight to Roy. Why did he change his strategy ? Did he really think he was going to out box Jones ?
As bad as John looked in his last fight, he still must be afforded the respect due to a former champion. He held his own with future Hall Of Famer Evander Holyfield in their horrendous trilogy. He was ahead on my card in his bout with Kirk Johnson at the time Kirk was rightfully disqualified. Regardless of Kirk's point deductions, I felt John was beating him. Now Johnson is back in the limelight after his impressive win over Savarese. This justifies Ruiz as at least being formidable. If he is good enough to beat a washed up but still viable by today's standards Holyfield. If he can beat a rising star like Kirk Johnson, then he deserves another chance to redeem himself. A win over the highly regarded Oquendo could be his ticket.
What about Oquendo ? He manhandled Clifford Etienne and exposed his weak chin. His was boxing well and was ahead on points before getting tagged by David Tua. Although Harris was not highly ranked he was a better boxer then his record indicated. Fres did what he had to do to pull out the victory.
Oquendo-vs-Ruiz, who would win ? Say what you want about Ruiz. He is slow, clumsy, a weak puncher, etc... Yes John can be outboxed and Oquendo is a skilled boxer with a good jab and a decent right hand. Fres is fairly mobile for a big man but he is not as fast as Roy Jones. Who is ? Oquendo has a bad habit of resting during rounds. He lays inside where he does not do his best work. This could play right into John's favor. Ruiz is strong, determined and very gritty. He is a pretty good body puncher and he should be able to more then hold his own with Fres on the inside. I guess it would come down to which Oquendo showed up for the fight. If Fres is in top condition and avoid as much infighting as possible, I can see him emerging victorious. On the other hand if he is not in peak condition and is forced to war with John on the inside. A Ruiz triumph would not surprise me at all.
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