WBA heavyweight titlist David Haye was successful in his first defense of his belt, stopping former two-time titleholder John Ruiz in the ninth round when Ruiz's corner waved the white towel on the ring apron.
Haye (24-1, 22 KO) dominated the fight from the get-go. Very early in the first round, he put a charge into Ruiz (44-9-1, 30 KO) with a right hand, flooring the 38-year-old veteran. Ruiz went down again in the opening round, but rabbit punches were ruled and a point was docked from Haye. After the bout, Haye admitted it was "a bit of a cheap shot." Ruiz would complain of rabbit punches a few more times in the fight, and while he was right, you can also say that he played a key role in making the rabbit punches happen, too.
Ruiz went down four times total in the fight, but proved his toughness and durability, too, and obviously that he's still a resilient guy. He clearly lost, and the corner stopping the fight was the right thing to do. Ruiz was doing little more than getting beaten up when Ruiz's team decided to end the contest.
Tactically, I thought Haye fought a rather brilliant fight. He moved backwards all night, but that's also because Ruiz was being more aggressive than he's ever been, constantly walking Haye down. Haye seemed comfortable fighting going backwards, and Ruiz never got any real offensive rhythm even though he was dictating where the fight went 90% of the time.
What Haye did that I thought worked especially well was lull Ruiz into thinking he was approachable, at which point Ruiz would come at him a bit haphazardly, often getting tagged with a right hand as a result. Ruiz would then start flicking his jab out on the way in for a bit, but Haye would get him to sleepwalk in again later, and catch him again. The big punches won the fight for Haye, who was simply too dynamic, too powerful, and too explosive for the aged Ruiz.
What happens next with Haye is anyone's guess. It would seem likely that the WBA will want him to fight Nikolai Valuev again. The Klitschkos (either of them) are the fight people want, though, and if Haye had to give up his WBA trinket to make much more money with Wladimir or Vitali, I'm sure he's smart enough to realize that the belt doesn't mean more than the glory of a huge fight and the money that comes with it.
Haye put a very big crowd into the M.E.N. Arena tonight in Manchester, and an enthusiastic one at that. No matter how you feel about him, commercially, he is indeed the total package, or as close as we get to that that anymore. He's charismatic, he's got a star quality, he's powerful, he's fast, he can be a very exciting fighter. And there's money on both sides of the pond. HBO has seemed to be dying for a good reason to put Haye on their network, and the Klitschkos are that good reason. Apart, I don't think HBO is going to bother anymore. Together, they will.
There's also the Arreola-Adamek winner (they fight on April 24), which could be a tremendous fight.
All in all, a pretty fantastic fight for David Haye, and for John Ruiz, the worst overall beating he's ever taken in a fight, and a possible end to his long, successful, and often criticized career.
On the undercard:
- George Groves (9-0, 7 KO) blew past Charles Adamu to win the Commonwealth super middleweight title. Groves made Adamu look hideous. He's got a lot of flaws still (he's only 22), but he's a legitimate prospect for sure.
- Ajose Olusegan (28-0, 14 KO) beat Colin Lynes in eight, when Lynes, who was losing the fight, kept coughing and maybe even dry-heaving throughout the round, then took a knee and was counted out.
- On the untelevised portion of the show, but shown from round two on with downtime to cover, Jamie Moore lost his first fight at middleweight to journeyman Sergey Khomitski, when Moore failed to answer the bell for the seventh round. It's a gutting defeat for Moore, who is a quality, rugged fighter, but appears to be suffering from years of tough fights. He gassed out against Ryan Rhodes in their epic battle last year, and blamed the weight. He mentioned the weight as a possible factor again tonight, and also hinted he may have to retire. At 5'9", he'd have a very hard time going up to super middleweight.