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Can Haye avert 'ground zero'?

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Ben Dirs | 17:39 UK time, Friday, 2 April 2010

To many fans of boxing, John Ruiz is a shuffling, grappling embodiment of everything that is wrong with the heavyweight division. No style, no slicks, no charisma, a bit like Britain's very own 'Quiet Man', former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

"The Quiet Man is here to stay," Duncan Smith famously bellowed at one party conference. You're not, but do go on. "And he's turning up the volume." Many boxing fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that Ruiz will be rendered mute on Saturday and, like Duncan Smith, not around for much longer.

Fans of any sport can be an uncharitable bunch - after all, Ruiz is a man who has fought, and held his own against, most of the marquee names in heavyweight boxing of the last 15 years, however tattered and faded the marquee. And if he beats David Haye in Manchester, he will join an illustrious list of three-time world heavyweight champions.

"People say my style is ugly," says Ruiz, in a rare fit of pique, "but how many boxers have been called ugly and won two world championships?"

But it is the very fact that the 38-year-old from Chelsea, Massachusetts, might be added to the names of Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and, slightly lower on the illustriosity scale, Vitali Klitschko that irritates some, makes others apoplectic.

Ruiz is wearing the residual anger of a generation of fight fans who have looked on while one of the great titles in sport has been reduced to not much more than a two-paragraph newspaper sideshow. Which is where Haye comes in.

"My ambition is to go down in history as a great boxer, to do that you've got to have great performances," says Haye. "The whole thing now is about creating a legacy."

Win in style, as Haye has promised he will, and he will have averted boxing's 'ground zero', a situation whereby the three men holding portions of the world heavyweight crown are Ruiz and those nice Klitschko brothers from Kiev. You know the ones I mean? Yes you do, big chaps, they tend to fight overweight, underwhelming challengers from the United States, normally over in Germany.

A special performance will also gain the attention of the American audience, which has remained steadfastly immune to Haye's charms so far, to the extent that his WBA title defence against Ruiz won't even be shown across the pond. Haye may not admit it, but if it's greatness he craves, the Americans will need to be watching.

A special performance will also make a clash with either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko a foregone conclusion, while giving himself greater leverage around the negotiating table. He won't be able to claim he's the big draw if he only squeaks by Ruiz.

The Klitschos, particularly IBF and WBO title-holder Wladimir, have been unusually exercised by Haye of late, so imagine how irritating Haye will become if he makes short work of Ruiz. "I'd prefer to fight him in a football stadium but I'd even face him in a car park," said Wladimir recently. A Haye victory at the MEN Arena followed by the inevitable taunts and Wladimir will happily downgrade to a Dixy Fried Chicken.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves - as Duncan Smith also said, "never underestimate the determination of the Quiet Man".

The consensus seems to be - from Ruiz's trainer Miguel Diaz, from Haye's trainer Adam Booth, from Ruiz himself - that the challenger, like some banged out stockcar, has been retuned, retouched and hammered back into something like his old shape.

"You are definitely going to see something more of the old-style Ruiz where I used to box and punch, not like recently when I was leaning in too much," says Ruiz.

"He's a guy who causes upsets," says Haye, "on his day he can be a nightmare for anyone and I'm prepared for the best John Ruiz."

Haye, however, doubts Saturday night's Ruiz will be much different to the one we've grown accustomed to, and even if he does come out boxing, chances are he'll soon revert to type once Haye starts "blasting away at his head", as he is sure to do.

Haye says Ruiz "would be nuts" to stand off and box, and anyone who saw the American fight the little-known Adnan Serin on the undercard of Haye versus Nikolay Valuev last November, when Ruiz tried to do exactly that for parts of the contest, would agree he's no Sugar Ray.

Instead, Ruiz will try to make Haye fight for three minutes of every round, not allow the champion to dictate the pace, and try to draw Haye into something a bit more bar-room than he's been used to, using every little trick in his armoury to drip-drip away at Haye's defences as the fight wears on.

Haye admits he's not the most durable of heavyweights, and he's yet to stand and trade with a man as strong as Ruiz, who boasts a very respectable 30 knockouts from his 44 wins.

But that's a risk he may have to take, both in order to get Ruiz out of there early before his tricks start taking their toll, and also to deliver the "dramatic" result he and all those disaffected fans of boxing crave - no-one said being the saviour of the heavyweight division would be easy.

PS. Yes, I do know 'illustriosity' is not a real word...

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about in Manchester at http://twitter.com/bendirs1

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I have a feeling that Ruiz may be there for the taking - he's too old now and Haye will be way too quick to allow him to establish a rhythm. And I have a sneaking suspiscion it'll be before the end of round 4. If David can do a "Tua" on him that will surely be spectacular and raise his stock ever further.

  • Comment number 2.

    I really do hope Haye comes through this fight, for the good of the Heavyweight division and boxing as a whole. We need an inspiring British champ, Khan will go someway towards that by beating Malignaggi, but he needs a really massive win like Marquez or Cotto to cement himself as world class. I'm a big Froch fan, but he just hasn't won the fans and TV executives over, even though a win over Kessler would cement him as the top Super Middleweight in the world.

    A huge KO for Haye might get the Americans to sit up and pay attention (though i said a win over Valuev would as well, so what do i know), but i don't see it happening. Ruiz is too wily and has too good a chin for Haye to put him away with anything other than a completely flush shot. I see Haye boxing his way to a comfortable decision by using his footwork to keep the "quiet man" on the outside where he can throw bombs at him.

    Great fighters of the past (holyfield etc) have struggled to do that, but Ruiz is getting on a bit now and Haye has the one shot power to make Ruiz think twice about just walking into him.

    Either way, let's hope for a great fight to get the the HW division breathing again!

  • Comment number 3.

    Oh, and out of interest what's your predo for this fight Ben? You think Haye will get the KO or Ruiz will pull an upset?

  • Comment number 4.

    Ruiz boxing tactics is rubbish and always has been rubbish how many times has those tactics got him anywhere in a ring but twice and he fought 11 times for the heavyweight title and all but lost on 9 occasions which is a pretty record to me. This man just never gives up he wants to be the heavyweight champions but he needs to change his style of approach everytime i see him boxe i just cringe at his slow and dead weaked punches theres no style or edge it thats why people dont like ruiz that much has a boxer.

    The Klistchos brother i cant stand how long have they been champions for? 4 or 5 years now a long time isnt it, they have just had things so easy for them in the heavyweight division no real challengers to be honest. Bring tyson,lennox lewis and evander holyfield back to bring ring they maybe old and years past there primes but i just want to see them one more time giving them a good knockout which we havent seen in this division foooor a long time.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear Illustriosity Dirs

    Good article, as ever, read your book (well, the back cover at least) - very amusing.

    Anyway, back to the boxing, a sport which is in heavy decline, partly through justified sentiments against its very nature, but mostly through the lack of inspirational competitors - where are the replacements for Ali (and an good number around at the same time), Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, John Conteh, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis (of more modern times, but still seems a long time ago)?

    Boxing seems to have descended into a pit (bull-pit?) of its own making, believing its own hyperbole but ignoring declining standards of the competitors.

    It is in severe danger of becoming (maybe already is) a sport which is no longer in the mainstream - as you point out, it's only in America where the big money and attendances still exist and that's the only place you get recognition.

    Unless things change it will shortly be time for professional boxing to hang up its gloves.

  • Comment number 6.

    Is there an election coming up soon Ben. Surprised some BBC nanny goat didn't clip your heels for having a political opinion.

    This is a nothing fight and is generating no interest. It's just a mandatory that needs to be got out of the way. I'd say writing your article was hard work nearly as hard as having to watch Ruiz trying to hug Haye to death tomorrow night.

    Haye needs a KO to give the tabloids something to write about and further the perception that he can beat a Klitschko........he can't.

    Don't be ordering any PPV movies in the hotel tonight, consider first the BBC's wages/expenses transparency policy.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'd simply like to see the overblown, overrated enormous ego that is Haye get his head taken off.

  • Comment number 9.

    And of course a knock-out means that "we" have a world-beating heavyweight like that Arsenal sprinter is a world-beater!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    It is a mandatory to 'get out of the way', but it's very important in terms of Haye's marketability to get a stoppage and a highlight reel one.

    It's ironic that the Valuev fight got him part of the prize he craved so much, while also being probably the most viewer-unfriendly performance of his career. He can't let Ruiz, as he's done to so many other heavyweights, drag him down into a mauling, grappling clutch-fest for the distance.

    Like said before though, speed kills and a sharp Haye countering well can put Ruiz on the back foot and break him down for a good stoppage. It's up to him to keep his focus and not overlook this fight for the sake of others.

    Ruiz wins, a lot of potential excitement deflates in the division.

  • Comment number 11.

    UFC marketing executives are going to be pulling for a Ruiz win, because MMA will become the number one fighting sport in the world (if it isn't already) if the heavyweight champions in boxing are Ruiz, Klitschko and Klitschko...

  • Comment number 12.

    #11: This isn't an MMA vs Boxing discussion, please don't make it one. The two sports aren't in competition despite what forum members might say, they're apples and oranges. I enjoyed both the recent UFC fight nights and UFC 111, and will be watching UFC 112 and Strikeforce this month, but that's not going to stop me enjoying Haye-Ruiz, Froch-Kessler and Pavlik-Martinez this month is it?

    You're right that a Ruiz win would sound a death knell for the HW division for a few more years though, as there really doesn't appear to be any other exciting challengers coming along. I actually think Haye is capable of beating Wladimir, and wins against Ruiz and Lil' Klits would make for a HUGE unification fight with Vitali. I don't think David would win it, but it might breathe some life back into the division regardless.

  • Comment number 13.

    Dan - I think it's quite likely Haye will come out of the traps and go mental trying to get the KO in the first round or two. If he senses his punches aren't having much of an effect, then he'll pull back and we could be in for a pretty dull fight, and a dangerous one for Haye, because I'm not sure he can run all night and he's never been much of a fighter on the inside...

  • Comment number 14.

    Ruiz is looking in good shape though and if Haye doesnt get him early doors, that could spell trouble.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm amazed that there's no television coverage in the US. I know that Ruiz isn't exactly a massive draw, and that Haye is still relatively unknown to them, but at the end of the day (excuse the cliche) an American fighter is challenging for the World Heavyweight title. Surely there must be some interest?

  • Comment number 16.

    "I'm not sure he can run all night"

    He managed to run all night against Valuev, Ben. I don't think stamina will be an issue. He only has to fear his chin (or a dull victory).

  • Comment number 17.

    PolskiPunch - The differnce being Valuev didn't run after him, Ruiz will!

  • Comment number 18.

    Fair point, Ben. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh yee of little faith etc - the fight against Valuev showed Haye could run all night (when required), not to mention stick to a game plan when the temptation must have been to go hell for leather.
    I can see a cagey start and after a few rounds Haye will have a go at putting Ruiz lights out, and failing that fight on the outside for a comfortable points win.
    On the wider point of boxing being a sport in decline, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure it's not mainstream currently (ironically something the Beeb is in no small part responsible for), however the current crop of British talent is the healthiest for many years. Haye, Khan, Froch, Cleverly, Mitchell, Brook, Groves, De Gale, Gavin, Saunders, Barker, the list goes on and on. The fact the names are not better known to a wider audience is no reflection on the talent, which is a crying shame IMHO.
    I'd wager a bet that Haye v Klitchko on prime time Saturday night tv, would draw a bigger audience than for any other sporting event, save for an England match in the world cup. In fact here's hoping on behalf of all boxing fans that is the Haye grand plan, to give the sport an long overdue boost to the masses.

  • Comment number 20.

    Look at some of the fighters that have beaten Ruiz:

    Valuev x 2
    Chagaev
    Jones Jr (blown up LHW)
    David Tua (spectacularly)

    Ruiz has also lost 3 of his last 6 fights. This guy has no chance against Haye. Ruiz might come forward but Haye will be too atheltic for a shot old fighter that has been beaten up by average talents. Whether Haye comes out swinging or takes his time he will be avoiding Ruiz's only tactic i.e. hugging. Haye won't fight on the inside and he doesn't have to. Can't see anything other than a Haye KO in the middle rounds. Shot slow fighters like Ruiz provide limited opposition.


    If Haye can't stop his man the fight will be a cure for insomnia.

  • Comment number 21.

    Mr.Dirs

    You need to write a weekly boxing blog.
    There's room ,and a need for it on here.

    And Haye by KO after 143 seconds.

  • Comment number 22.

    Decentish article Ben, but you are giving John Ruiz way too much credit, name me one decent victory he has had? He is a great loser, the fact he has recently lost to Valuev twice makes this fight potentially even more boring than Haye-Valuev.

    I predict it will be Ruiz easily hanging on and Haye pretending to go for the knockout but really glad to get away with a points victory.

    After this Haye has to man up and face both Klitschko's, no more excuses, why did he pull out of pre-arranged fights with both brothers? Was that part of the Haye hype bandwagon?

    I have watched every Haye fight since his career began and rate him highly but I am beginning to get the feeling that he is more hype than heart at heavyweight and will be exposed, I hope I am proved wrong.

  • Comment number 23.

    Ben, that seems a fairly solid prediction, similar to mine at #2. Ruiz always carries a danger, and Hayes chin isn't the best, but i don't think Ruiz skills are sufficient enough to expose it. If Haye boxes and moves like we know he can he should pull an comfy decision win, as i said earlier, i think he'll struggle to stop Ruiz.

    #22: My understanding was that Haye picked up an injury (in his back i think) and asked for the fight to be postponed a month or two and Klits refused. Hardly dodging, but you never really know what's going on with boxing do you. It could have been a ruse to build some more hype for all we know.

    #19: Mostly agreed, all this "boxing is dying" malarkey has been going on for years, decades even, yet we still have big fights attracting attention. People are saying Pacman and Floyd are the only superstars left, but new ones always emerge. From a British perspective Calzaghe and Hatton are finished (hopefully), but Haye and Khan will step in, whilst Cleverly has a lot of potential as well.

    The Manny-Clottey fight actually did very big numbers in America (850K PPV buys), despite one of the fighters being an almost complete unknown to non-boxing fans. People still care about the sport, they just need the fighters to care about, and they will arrive.

    One big problem in the US in particular is that people are comparing it to MMA (the UFC in particular), which has been pulling big numbers on a regular basis. Somehow they have managed to appeal to a young market which boxing has failed to tap in to in recent years, however it isn't a disaster at all. The two sports aren't mutually exclusive, and if MMA is getting more people interested in combat sports then all the better, as they are more likely to go and check out boxing off the back of it.

    PS. Apologies but I'm going to drop a small gripe here even though it's rather off topic. Why on earth is the BBC still not covering MMA?! I e-mailed and was told something along the lines of there not being enough interest, despite the fact that sports like Archery, Fencing and Triathlon have their own sections! It's a black mark against what is otherwise the best sports website on the net.

    Grouch over :-)

  • Comment number 24.

    After this Haye has to man up and face both Klitschko's, no more excuses, why did he pull out of pre-arranged fights with both brothers? Was that part of the Haye hype bandwagon?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    JobyJak

    When Haye moved up to heavyweight he had nothing to lose. He basically talked his way into a fight with Wladamir and he was due a nice payday even if his chances of a win were slim. He does deserve credit though for challenging and goading the Klitschko's into fighting him and but for a sports channel going bust and a hard to verify injury the fight with Wlad would have gone ahead.

    The diffference now is Haye has a heavyweight belt and now does have something to lose. I haven't heard as much out of Haye recently and he hasn't been wearing beheaded Klitschko T-shirts. When he gets the mandatory Ruiz out of the way we'll see how much Haye fancies putting his belt on the line against the Klitschko's. The K brothers are getting on and Vitali looked his age in his last fight. Haye might fancy waiting another year to take them on.

    To be fair I'm holding my judgement on Haye's desire to fight the Klitschko's. He needs to make a statement against Ruiz and call out Wlad when he wins tomorrow night.

  • Comment number 25.

    Wow - people actually give a toss about what happens in boxing. What kinda sport has four international governing bodies?

    "Boxing is like no other sport. It has no national commissioner to set standards for health and safety. In boxing there are no leagues or schedules. Every match is a separate deal. There is no rational structure. The chaos itself becomes an impediment to reform. The casual fan does not understand how the sport is run."
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20011112/newfield

    That was written nine years ago - has anything changed since then?

    The sport is dead. Even WWE - which makes no pretence to being a sport - is more professional than boxing. Cover something else, MMA, judo, whatever. The only thing respectable about boxing now is the Olympics and sooner or later the IOC will replace it with karate or something.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Haye is in the prime of his fighting life and will have too much power and energy for Ruiz, I really don't see this going beyond 7 rounds, if it goes the distance I pity Ruiz, he would have taken a lacing. Concerning a "legacy", I feel confident that David can take out Wladimir, not too sure about Vitali though, but he ain't getting younger, just smarter than his younger brother and more ring craft, just ask Lennox. There ain't much around to create a legacy, that is the problem, Lennox fought Holyfield, Tonka(Tyson), Bowe, Yes even Bruno and Mason locally at home, Morrison, Cry baby McCall, Gollotta, Briggs, Hasim, Razor and others that I may have left off, but those were notable scalps and he retired underfeated h'weight champion of the world, the only other person to do that I can recall and it was through death was Rocky, that is a legacy, of course there are others than Lennox, like Ali, Fraser, Foreman, Norton, Holmes of yesteryear moderns, even Cooney is on that list and I have not forgotten Tonka and Holyfield either. But you can only clean sweep what you have in front of you, but not a legacy in boxing purist terms, but I wish him all the best, we need trash talking guys like him, I don't listen to people who say he is full of himself, sure he is, he is a champion, keep on talking, it is all about advert, but he better back it up with winning or at least good performances, he does not need to knock everyone out, next on the agenda is "the quiet man", well he will be sleeping quietly sometime tomorrow before round 7.

  • Comment number 27.

    ruiz got sparked in 19 seconds by david tua back in the 90s tuas currentky on the comeback trail and looking pretty good,david haye has been mentioned in a local nz paper as keen to fight tua if he beats ruiz , dont see his name being mentioned anywhere else though.tuas 37 now but as fit and strong as hes ever been,anyone reckon this could happen,iknow tua didnt perform when he got his shot against lewis,but lewis wasnt taking to many chances coz of his power,hes only lost 3 on points to ibeabuchi,chris byrd and lewis , while beatingrahman, knocking out ruiz,moorer in 30 seconds,and oleg maskiev,all future or past champs,be interested in any opinions from a european or usa perspective,on davids chances of another shot.

  • Comment number 28.

    As always the Klitshkos are given zero respect, when in actual fact their win-loss-knock out record is practically unsurpassed in the history of heavyweight boxing.
    In my opinion, they deserve much more credit in the UK and US. (In other parts of Europe, they get this credit.)

    Somewhere hear it has been written that Ruiz is a heavyweight champion. no hes not - the klitchkos are currently the only heavyweight chanpions of the world.

    If the heavyweight division is boring it is not because of the Klitshkos, but because of their opponents, who, with very few exceptions, have had a power, strength and skill level far below that of the Klitshkos, and who have not been able to put up any of a fight at all. When a great opponent does get in the ring (ie - lewis), the Kilitchkos are forced to up theire game and there is a great fight (and one that Vitali was winning until the fight was stopped due to cuts).

    The Klitchkos make the fighters who come out of the USA look weak and lumbering. They just destroy them...and then they get blamed for the 'state of boxing'

    I really hope that Haye will not run away from the fight with one of them like he did last year, and give one of the brothers the chance to demonstrate their talent. It would be a great fight im sure.

  • Comment number 29.

    Ref the 7.57 of Lancer. Good comments. I used to be a big boxing fan (bought the magazine The Ring, checked the ratings weight by weight,pound-for-pound, who was fighting who next). Stayed up til 2am to watch the McGuigan fight (met him actually and he told me about his fever, ears blocked, intense heat); Brilliant men, fascinating times. And gone. Whats gone wrong? I guess 2 things, maybe 3, to be knocked down if you like. First is the hyperbole. Overblown, over-egged, clumsy. Zero to hero in a few fights, and straight back down again. Second is the pay-per-view system which is not inclusive, over priced (have you seen the bloody prices) and lengthy lengthy droning boring unintelligent pre-match blah), hence you are DEFINITELY losing the young amateur enthusiasts, the less well off). Third is the awful structure planning and competing, conflicting councils, weight ranges and ridiculous self important promoters who seem incapable of taking entrepreneur risk).
    How to sort it out? Put as many fights as possible on free Sky or terrestial, programme it sensibly, and schedule regularly, and simplify or unify the bodies responsible. Like in F1 or Rugby, or Football, or Golf, or Tennis or... you get it. Telly (and the BBC ) has a major part to play and a significant element of responsibility in not sorting this talentless show of nonsense out). Give me a weekly programme, a free Euro or World fight free, a rational approach to the codes and weights (WBA and WBC, Fly Light Middle Heavy would be a start). Oh, and I guess Haye will be unimpressive and win. But who cares, and are any other countries even watching?

  • Comment number 30.

    Jonathan, just because the stats may talk a good game for the Klitschkos does not mean they are great fighters. They are the principal beneficiaries of a very poor era.

  • Comment number 31.

    I get the feeling Haye is onto a lose-lose situation with this fight. If he wins (and I have no doubt he will), I get the feeling it will have to be an ugly win. People will point to Haye and say, that was unimpressive, and nobody will even give a thought to the fact that it was his opponents style that made it so. The proof in my feelings is in the way people talk about the Valuev fight. They talk as if Haye ran all night, and barely mention the fact he nearly knocked a giant out stone cold. I think Haye (and the people who want to see him fail) is fighting under increasing unfair standards. It'll get to the point where he can do nothing right.

    Having said that, I hope Haye blasts him out within 3. It's the only way some fans are going to be happy.

    Come on King David, make it look good.

  • Comment number 32.

    David Haye doesn't get enough credit from his own country's fans. Even some bloke called John wants his taken off - where's the loyalty there.

    He's beaten who he has needed to beat but people only rate him on his Heavyweight performances - what about the fact that he cleaned up the Cruiserweight division?!

    Boxing, which is more of a sport than MMA or the Oscar winning WWE or WWF will ever be, needs a champion like Haye - who looks the part, fights well and does the talking just like Mr Ali....albeit on a lot lesser scale thus far.

    I'm sick to death of fighters like Ruiz, Valuev and the Klitskcho's who are also lingering around but never fight anyone of any worth and just bore fight fans. Vladimir is the better of the bunch but even he got smacked by Lewis - regardless of what the card said - and just needs to get smacked once more to put us out of our misery.

    P.S If we have a world champion and America doesn't then why should be bothered about what they think. We hear about all these american boxers coming through and think they're amazing only to find out that they're only living on their nationality and have no boxing skills to back it up.

    England is the new country of boxing and long shall it stay.......even Calzaghe was English.

  • Comment number 33.

    No, Ben Dirs, you've got it all wrong it's Ruiz must beat Haye for the heavyweight division's sake.

    I hope he does but he shouldn't be fighting for a decision -- he will never get it in Manchester, we all know that, he has to KO Haye, hit him hard and hit him plenty -- for all to see.

    However, that Haye's fighting Ruiz at all shows he and his camp think he can win. They are a bunch of yellow chickens and would have come with some way to duck the challenge like they did when haye was to fight Klitchko. Well, the ruder the awakening, imho.

  • Comment number 34.

    #32: What a strange post, some good points and some bizarre ones.

    1: You are absolutely right about Haye not getting the credit he deserves, people seem oblivious to the fact he is already undisputed champion of one weight class, and beat a heavyweight champion who had only been beaten once in 52 outings.

    2: WWF/WWE or whatever it is obviously isn't a sport, but MMA is perfectly legitimate, even if it doesn't have the rich history of boxing. If Kickboxing, Judo, Wrestling etc are sports, why isn't an amalgamation of them?

    3: When you say "Vladimir" you mean Vitali, as he's the one that fought Lennox. Wladimir is the younger, slightly less capable brother.

    4: America is by a mile the biggest market in boxing, and any champion wants to impress them so they can make money, and legitimise themselves. To be a world famous boxer who goes down in history, you need to impress the US market. Look at Sven Ottke, he retired an undefeated champion, but his lack of aspiration to impress the Americans and further himself means very few will consider him a true great.

    5: How does Joe Calzaghe, born to a Sardinian father and Welsh mother and raised in Wales, qualify as English?

  • Comment number 35.

    Dan

    Calzaghe was born in London but I think if you were to ask him he would say he is Welsh Italian or probably just Welsh. That comment was an attempt at a wind up.

  • Comment number 36.

    #35: Haha, i guess by that logic i'm a German then! Even though my parents are English, i don't speak the language, and i haven't been there since i was 3 months old.

  • Comment number 37.

    The thing that got me back into boxing was the Hatton/Mayweather buildup & Ben Dirs blogging on it (those were magical times). I'll never forget how the thing built & built & built over weeks then it ended on this: Dirs "Mayweather's uncle is one scary human being & he fancies himself a poet" (or words to that effect) & he said "Floyd's going to salt & cook him & throw it into fire" (or words to that effect - i've missed something out there). Anyway, i fell off the chair laughing so hard. In terms of effect, i think it was better that Ali's "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" (although admittedly more crude). Moments like that cannot be recaptured, they just have to be remembered. One of the reasons i think Ricky should just look back fondly & with joy that he was part of such a spectacle & just hang them up. In fact they could make a movie out of that time with Ricky playing himself (if he can lose the weight one more time) & maybe Dizzee Rascal as Floyd Mayweather. Those were good times. But anyway i digress, back to this fight - Haye/Ruiz. I haven't seen Ruiz fight but judging from his record, age & style of fighting, he'd be very fortunate to see the final bell. In fact i think it's highly unlikely he'll see the final bell but we'll see. Mandatories is mandatories (if this is a mandatory).

  • Comment number 38.

    #35: Haha, i guess by that logic i'm a German then! Even though my parents are English, i don't speak the language, and i haven't been there since i was 3 months old.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That's the kind of logic you're up against Dan. Normally when a Calzaghe (Calslappy as some call him) arguement starts the Welsh come to his defense only to be told that Joe is English. It's par for the course on boxing forums.

  • Comment number 39.

    Didn't quite mean to produce that sort of can of worms - interesting discussion on the extent to which MMA's popularity helps or hurts boxing. My guess, it's a bit of both, but it would be more unequivocally positive if boxing were more professionally run (see 25, though I think that argument is overstated), as new MMA fans will likely check out boxing, but a lot of the older MMA fans are those who have given up on boxing because of frustrations with the state of that particular sport.

    Anyway, back to this fight. Haye to get a knockdown early, then Ruiz to desperately cling on and possibly hug his way to a massive points defeat.

  • Comment number 40.

    1. Ref.33 - I hope to God that you are not from the UK with those comments. Wanting Haye to get beaten is one thing but thinking Ruiz will save Heavyweight boxing if he wins is simly mental.

    2. Ref 34. - Sorry I meant Vitali not Vladimir, thanks for pointing that out. I understand you comments but I think we bow down too much to the American market and base opinion on what they think rather than our own, which is just as valid. I don't think Sven Ottke was a particularly good example though because in all fairness, he wasn't that great and had absolutely no intention of fighting anyone that was half decent.

    In addition, I understand your comments regarding MMA but it won't last anywhere near as long as traditional boxing. It's all a buzz at the moment but it will gain the same worldwide appeal. I agree that it is a sport though irrespective of my previous comments.

    Ref. Calzaghe, yes it was a wind-up but he was born in Hackney, England. My daughter's American but she's English as far as we're concerned, and American when it suits her to be.

    Come on David Haye, great personality, nice guy and English - all the best in sorting out Ruiz tonight.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 40. thegreatmeloni -- Heavywieght boxing will be much better off without Haye than with him -- who's he anyway? Nobody, neither a boxer nor a fighter, certainly a coward, a disgusting person and (really unforgivable) english!! -- that's why Ruiz has to win, the eyes of the world are upon him (my shekels too).

  • Comment number 42.

    Ben, were your parents drunk when they named you?

  • Comment number 43.

    Illustriosity not a real word, huh? Well you think that if you like - I'm off to chungle in my old fettoons...

  • Comment number 44.

    Pedro - Yes, they were off their minds on Harpic

  • Comment number 45.

    This article stinks of the typical americanised bias that surrounds both Klitschko brothers. It almost seems as if people have a chip on their shoulder because they are both from the old nemesis the USSR...

    The days of needing to 'conquer America' are gone quite frankly. The Klitschkos fight in front of 60000 in football stadiums in Germany whatever the opponent, tell me the last time a boxing match got that attendance in the USA?

    As Booth said, there's more money to be made in Europe now, I doubt a Haye vs Klitschko will happen in the US. I mean how people expect the Klitschko's to be huge stars in America with PhDs and English as their 4th language I'm not, everyone can see the post fight interview with Vitali after the Lewis fight.. speaking in broken english and interpreting some questions incorrectly. They were never going to fit the American heavyweight stereotype, and everyone knows what I'm talking about. If the brothers were black, uneducated from Detroit or some other 'hood' I cant fail to imagine the hype.

  • Comment number 46.

    @41 (Norman Conquest) - Haye IS a fighter and he is a boxer - I'm not sure what's told you otherwise and as for being disgusting you're probably referring to his T-shirt of Vladimir, and he's certainly no coward going in with a 7ft+ russian guy. I'm not sure how you even come out with a statement of boxing being better without him. Think you might be on your own there.

    Suggest you kick back your warm cup of cocoa and take an early night. Not worth staying up and watching your money go down the drain.


    @42 Bakez you are bang on regarding the American thing. So true.

  • Comment number 47.

    There is a slight element of thinly veiled racism when people diminish Vitali's skill, or the fact that many sports writers claim that someone needs to 'save boxing'. The truth is many people in Britain or America do not like champions where english is not their first language. There are of course exceptions, especially in the lighter weight classes with Mexican fighters, but the fact that the heavyweight division has so many Eastern European fighters somehow makes it less 'legitimate'. Granted Valuev was a farce but there is clearly a vendetta against Eastern European fighters, I mean Ben Dirs doesnt even research that the Klitschko brothers are not even from Kiev, clearlyshowing his lack of interest. And im not Eastern European by the way.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 45. hit the nail on the head there in the last paragraph

  • Comment number 49.

    Truth to tell, an English heavyweight champ will always have the smallest fan base.

    Look at the Klitchkos, they are Ukrainian Russian speakers, so popular not only in Ukraine but in Russia and all over the former Soviet Union, they are based and fight in Germany and speak German so very popular there two.

    Great American champs were obviously popular in America (300 million + people) and all over the world, the same goes for Mexican, Filipino and even African and Arab fighters -- they all have transnational appeal.

    But an English champ will only have fans in England which a lot smaller than Britain even.

    Ergo, should Haye win, the heavyweight division will sink into oblivion -- at least until he is dethroned. That's why John Ruiz must not fail today.

  • Comment number 50.

    "Ruiz is a man who has fought, and held his own against, most of the marquee names in heavyweight boxing"

    ----------------

    Aye, he's held his own - and everyone else's too!

    He's spent 85% of his professional career holding.

    But this aside, I don't really get this thing about someone needing to "save" heavyweight boxing. The division has two first-rate champions in Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko. Canadian maestro Lennox Lewis is still rated as one of the top heavyweights of the last few decades, and Vitali outboxed him when they met.

    OK, I admit, the heavies is boring - but truth be told, it has almost always been boring. Boxing geniuses like Ali, and flawed but explosive circus acts like Mike Tyson, are thin on the ground. You want to see exciting boxing, look at welter, or in the lighter divisions.

    Me, I'll be supporting Haye this evening - not because he's british, but because he's interesting. And because watching Ruiz makes me want to lever my own eyes out with a car jack.

  • Comment number 51.

    Essentially Heavyweight boxing has not been exciting since Mike Tyson's career derailed. He was potentially the greatest of them all - but extremely fragile mentally.

    Lennox Lewis was brilliant for British sports fans and was a classy boxer. However, had Tyson remained at the top of his game, Lewis's light would have shone a lot dimmer. Their fight in 2002 was a last hurrah for the Heavyweight division.

  • Comment number 52.

    WELL DONE DAVID HAYE - a clean of the drab heavyweight division is still on the cards.

    P.S Norman Conquest - tough luck mate, hope you didn't lose too much. (another english guy will box soon, it won't be long until you can slate him too);-)

  • Comment number 53.

    Hey Norman Conquest - you must be hurting bad - saw your previous posts on 606 and you were obviously creaming yourself in the (totally misguided) hope that a one dimensional Yank like Ruiz could even belong in the same ring as the new real deal that is Haye. That fight was so one-sided they should reclaim Ruiz's share of the purse. Doesn't look like there are any other worthwhile US heavyweights around at the moment, so Haye will probably retire unbeaten after he destroys the Ukrainian robots - should be a breeze as they are totally overrated and only a pin head would mention them in the same breath as a true warrior like Haye. The same sort of pin head that would have given Ruiz a chance against Haye. I, like all intelligent boxing fans, realised Haye v Ruiz was a complete mismatch from the moment the fight was announced. Thankfully, Ruiz corner eventually realised that too, and threw in the towel before Haye completely destroyed him.

  • Comment number 54.

    Quote from the sage of boxing - Norman Conquest - on 606

    "admittedly it'll be tough for Ruiz in Manchester where the judges will be firmly in his opponents corner -- hell last time his camp pulled a daylight robbery in Germany, no way he won that one.

    Makes no sense going for a decision.. Ruiz's gotta fell the dude pure and simple... hit him hard, preferably make him leave boxing all together "


    Yeah you called it so right - if it wasn't for those biased judges, Ruiz would have won easy - thise biased judges that should have stpped in to the ring and stopped Haye from beating the cr*p out of the hapless Ruiz -I mean, that is tantamount to bullying, and we can't have that.

    At least Ruiz listened to part of your advice, and decided not to hang around for a decision - or was that his cornermen's choice?

  • Comment number 55.

    @ 54 -- I saw the fight.

    Well, John Ruiz didn't live up to people's expectations. Haye's win is a new low for the Heavyweight Division.

    However I didn't see anything from Haye either. He is neither a boxer nor a puncher. Barring a few crazy monkey jumps, he spent most of the fight on the back foot running from a very lackluster Ruiz. Also, I did notice how he hit Ruiz on the back of the head at least 30 times -- should have had a lot more than one point deducted.. he's an evil one.

    Either of the Klitchkos will destroy him -- will make a nice chunk of salo out of him.

  • Comment number 56.

    It was a joke fight for a joke title. It only showed that the middle-aged guy who had lost 3 of his previous 6 fights needed the money, knew he was going to lose and lost. As for his opponent, who came into boxing at a late age through the tabloids, he is also a joke, even worse he thinks he is a good boxer, just because he is uneducated, as if being uneducated qualifies someone as a good boxer.

    There is not much interest in the heavier boxing divisions because they are dominated by Russians and Eastern Europeans, excellent boxers, educated and real gentlemen traits which British and American tabloid readers do not often see in the boxers they read about and also are not expected to speak Russian, Polish or German

    But I'm sure we will all have a good laugh when we read in the tabloids that Haye "retained" his heavyweight "title"

 

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