Ruiz gets unexpected oppurtunity against Dawson
By Robert Morales
We’ve all seen how ridiculous boxing’s governing bodies can be when it comes to rankings. Actually, “ridiculous” is a word not harsh enough to describe some of the crazy goings on in this regard.
But the World Boxing Council really took the cake when it ranked Jesus “Chuy” Ruiz No. 15 in its light heavyweight rankings. Here is what Ruiz did in the past three years and three months to earn a slot just high enough so he can challenge Chad Dawson for his WBC 175-pound belt June 9 in Hartford, Conn.: Ruiz knocked out the dreaded Rodney Moore in the first round last November on a club card in Montebello, Calif.
Prior to that, Ruiz had not fought since March 2004, when he lost a somewhat controversial decision to Paul Briggs in a WBC title elimination fight in Briggs’ native Australia. That’s right. Chavez has had one fight since March 2004. And his knockout of Moore, a guy who came in 8-16-6 with three knockouts, was good enough for him to first get ranked No. 20 by the WBC, then No. 15.
Even Dawson’s promoter, Gary Shaw, who put this fight together, could not defend this Tuesday during a telephone conversation with yours truly.
“When it comes to that, you will never get an argument from me,” Shaw said of the rankings of the four governing bodies in general.Let’s not kid ourselves. The WBC and the other three don’t care what anyone thinks about the way they do business. As long as they get their precious sanctioning fees that come with championship fights, it’s all good.
Shaw said he tried to get the aforementioned Briggs for Dawson. But a deal with Briggs’ promoter, Don King, did not materialize. Shaw said he tried other avenues, but that nothing panned out. Of course, since Shaw had trouble getting a deserving opponent for Dawson, boxing would have been best served if Dawson took on Ruiz in a non-title fight. It wouldn’t be the first time a champion did that during his reign. But you don’t think that was going to happen, do you? Oh, hell no.
Listen, it doesn’t matter what happens during this fight. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Ruiz take this fight more than a few rounds because he can crack. Ask Briggs, who tasted the canvas during the second round of his victory over Ruiz.
Bottom line is, the idea that Ruiz (19-4, 17 KOs) is being afforded an opportunity at a major championship under these circumstances is disgusting. Ruiz, of Long Beach, Calif. via Mexico, understandably is thrilled to get this chance.
“I never thought I would get, at this moment in my career, the opportunity,” said Ruiz, in somewhat broken English. “But the chance came, so I said, ‘Sure.’ ”
During a telephone conversation with Ruiz on Tuesday afternoon, an interesting revelation popped up. Ruiz, 33, has had three lengthy layoffs during a career that began in April 1994. After beating Paul Jones in December 1997 in Reseda, Calif., Ruiz did not fight again for two years, three months. Ruiz lost a decision to Rodney Toney in September 2001, then did not fight for a year and eight months. Finally, there was the two years and eight months without a fight after his loss to Briggs.
Ruiz must get hurt a lot, right? Not so, he said.
“Managerial problems, that is the thing,” Ruiz said. “During my professional career, I’ve had 24 managers.”
Twenty-four managers? Come on. To be sure, the number was repeated to Ruiz in
Spanish. Yup, he said he has indeed had 24 managers. OK, so now we are talking about a fighter with 23 fights in 13 years, who has had two dozen mangers, whose only fight since early 2004 came against a fighter the little old lady from Pasadena could whip. And he’s going to challenge the undefeated Dawson (23-0, 15 KOs) for the WBC light heavyweight championship? (Oh, and by the way, it’s on Showtime).
Ruiz was asked how he can possibly win. And what he said made a little sense.
“He is faster, but maybe he is a super middleweight,” Ruiz said of Dawson. “I’m a natural light heavyweight all my career. So I think in the fight, he will feel the difference. I think he will feel a real hard punch of a real light heavyweight.”
It’s true. Dawson has had several fights at middleweight and quite a few at super middleweight. He has had only three fights at light heavyweight. In his most recent bout, Dawson took the WBC belt from Tomasz Adamek via a wide unanimous decision.
Shaw isn’t about to say Ruiz has no chance, and he’s on board with the idea that Ruiz has a puncher’s chance
“He can fight,” Shaw said. “He’s a tough opponent. If we were in the eighth or ninth round, it wouldn’t shock me. Some of those Mexican kids really come to fight.”
Dawson, during a conference call Tuesday, swore he was not overlooking Ruiz. Dawson also said he is expecting a tough battle.
“I have seen that he is a tough guy and a good fighter,” Dawson said. “I know that he will come to fight. I am not looking for somebody who is going to come in the ring just to go a round.”
Well, Dawson has to say that. Part of the job of a fighter is to help promote. One would never say that Joe Schmo “doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring with me and it’s a travesty that this fight is taking place.” If a fighter did that, his promoter would have a big problem with it. As would whatever television station was in the mix.
As for Ruiz, he admitted he has butterflies. Of course, he does. He is going from that killer Rodney Moore to Chad Dawson.
“That nervousness, it’s natural,” Ruiz said. “And it’s a little fear, too. But after that first punch, everything is going to turn to courage.”
Oh, by the way, the other fight on this Showtime card is former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver against Elvir Muriqi for one of the very minor belts. Shaw and Dawson on Tuesday made no bones about wanting Tarver should both win a week from Saturday.
Now, Shaw is usually good about putting his fighters in with tough opponents. But knowing that Dawson-Tarver could be next makes one wonder if that isn’t the reason Dawson is fighting a part-timer like Ruiz.