Ruiz vs. Toney On April 30

By Francis Walker
Updated: March 28, 2005

NEW YORK, NY—John Ruiz is scheduled to defend the WBA heavyweight title against James Toney on April 30, at Madison Square Garden. The winner will participate in a possible world heavyweight championship unification tournament.

Originally the Garden reserved the April 30th to host WBC heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko’s fight against former champion, Hasim Rahman. But Klitschko suffered a leg injury in training camp and the fight was postponed until June.

King, who signed Ruiz-Toney less than five weeks ago, convinced HBO and the Garden to host the fight-telecast. Ruiz is strong and gritty fighter, but his last several performances were less than “crowd pleasing.”

Ruiz’ defense against Fres Oquendo in April 2004 was the first time in boxing history that two Latino’s fought for a heavyweight championship. The fight was a disaster, as both Ruiz and Oquendo clinched and barely threw any punches until late in the fight. Ruiz was able to KO Oquendo in the tenth-round of a very dull fight.

In Nov. 2004, Ruiz’ defense against Andrew Golota was hard-fought, foul festival. Ruiz was docked two points for fouling and suffered two knockdowns. However, Golota still won a 12-round decision.

Ruiz is not the most talented of today’s champions, but he one of the most successful. Ruiz, a two-time heavyweight champion, defeated Evander Holyfield in March 2002 to become the first Latino in boxing history to win a heavyweight championship. Ruiz also defeated top contenders Kirk Johnson and Hasim Rahman.

However, Ruiz’ career is largely defined as being the man that Roy Jones, Jr. defeated to become the first former middleweight champion in more than 100 years since Bob Fitsimmons to win a heavyweight title. Ruiz out-weighed Jones by 35 pounds (235-199), but could barely reach Jones while losing a 12-round decision.

Toney, a former middleweight champion, cruiserweight champion, and Jones, Jr. adversary, could become the second middleweight champion to win the heavyweight title. Can lightening strike twice?

A victory for either fighter will put them in the running toward entering a Don King-proposed unification tournament with the other champions: Klitschko (WBC champion), IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd, and WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster.

“Ferocious” Fernando Returns: Former IBF 154-pound champion, Fernando Vargas (25-2, 22 KOs) returned to the squared-circle after a 15-month layoff due to injuries, to win a 10-round unanimous decision against Ray Joval (33-4, 15 KOs). Vargas, once ranked among boxing’s best and brightest stars, proved he still packs a punching power while boxing effectively. Vargas’s His two losses were crushing KO defeats to Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya. Both bouts were unification title bouts in the junior middleweight division. His career took a serious hit when he tested positive for steroid use in following his loss to De La Hoya in Sept. 2002.

Vargas, now 2-0 since advancing to 160, could perhaps be considered as a middleweight title challenger for Bernard Hopkins or fight for a piece of the junior middleweight title in 2006.