Team Ruiz press release:
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (July 3, 2008) – The World Boxing Association ruled today at its Directory Meeting that WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev will be considered “champion in recess” due to an injury and that he has until June 26, 2009 to fight for the title.
Negotiations have started between representatives of the WBA’s top two rated heavyweights, ex-WBA champion Nikolai Valuev and former two-time WBA title-holder John “The Quietman” Ruiz (43-7-1, 29 KOs), respectively, to fight for the WBA “regular” heavyweight championship belt. The Valuev-Ruiz will be obliged to fight Chagaev by June 26, 2009.
“We’re happy to get an opportunity to fight for the WBA title again,” Ruiz said from Argentina.
The Puerto Rican-American Ruiz, living in Las Vegas, is the first and only Latino heavyweight champion of the world. He has fought in 10 world championship fights, defeating three world heavyweight champions -- Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Tony Tucker – in addition to beating top contenders such as Andrew Golota, Fres Oquendo, Kirk Johnson and Jameel McCline during his 15-year pro career.
I cannot help but at least smile at the idea of Fres Oquendo, Kirk Johnson and Jameel McCline as "top contenders," though I guess at the time Ruiz fought them they were.
So who's pumped for this mega rematch? Valuev beat Ruiz via majority decision in 2005 to capture the WBA's title in a fight that no one could possibly call any less than "compelling" or "jaw-dropping."*
One viewer remarked, "It was an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride from start to finish."**
* Qualifying viewers must have never escaped an empty basement in their entire lives.
** And I make another joke.