Jones Tops Ruiz

Carl Brooks

Roy Jones Jr. entered history this past Saturday as the third light heavyweight to beat a heavyweight champion for the championship. Echoing the classic bouts of Spinks Holmes in 1985, where the lighter, meaner Spinks spanked Holmes around the ring for the world championship and the antediluvian Fitzsimmons-Corbett, in 1897, where the much smaller Bob Fitzsimmons beat out “Gentleman” Jim Corbett for the title, Jones flabbergasted a frustrated John “The Quietman” Ruiz for the World boxing Association belt.

Jones and Ruiz fought a twelve-round sleeper on Saturday, occasionally getting boos for the lack of action. Ruiz, seemingly unable to find his rhythm and hampered by holding calls, lost by unanimous decision to Jones, who some call the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of his generation. Chelsea strong boy John Ruiz was unable to use his twenty-five pound and four-inch reach advantage against the slippery, footloose Jones, Jr. Ruiz came out strong in the first round, putting the pressure on and chasing Jones down with strong rights. He lost that round 10-9 according to the judges, and Jones, Jr. found his stride, eluding Ruiz and tagging him with impunity when Ruiz moved in on his left foot. At the fifth round Ruiz’ nose was bloody and the champion was visibly frustrated. Coach Norman ‘Stoney’ Stone was heard yelling at his charge, “Punch him! You gotta punch him!”

After the fight, Ruiz evinced his frustration with the ref and with Jones, saying that holding calls frustrated his game and that “the referee wouldn’t let me fight my fight.” during the bout the question seemed moot, as Roy Jones, Jr. moved easily around the middle of the ring and bopped Ruiz with lefts. Ruiz showed off his discipline when he did manage to connect, but his punches weren’t enough to damage a feisty Jones. Ruiz’ rounds took a toll, however, when his nose began to bleed at round five and by the end of the bout, it was apparently broken. Neither fighter had to expend too much energy, as Ruiz became more frustrated and more cautious, and Jones, secure in his light legs and superior game, grew lazy. Jones won eight rounds. The final decision was unanimous, 118-110, 117-111, 116-112.

Ruiz-Jones had its share of pre-fight problems, though certainly nothing like the circus that accompanied last week’s Tyson-Etienne faker. Jones, Jr., bitter after many years of not getting the attention he felt he deserved, refused to fight without a 10 million dollar guarantee. Ruiz gave him the money, cutting himself out of the front money and relying on strong par-per-view sales to earn any money. Ruiz, a local celebrity, has been agitating for a bout against Lennox Lewis, who is comparable in size and speed, to unify the fractured heavyweight belts.

Roy Jones, Jr., now the WBA titleholder at a ripped 199 pounds, certainly proved his point on Saturday. If he can bring his skills up against a much bigger Lewis, who might have the pepper that the Quietman lacked, he might become the smallest world heavyweight champion on record.