John Ruiz (born January 4, 1972) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1992 to 2010. He held the WBA heavyweight twice between 2001 and 2005, and is the first Latino boxer to win a world heavyweight title.
His professional record is 44–9–1–1, with 30 knockouts. Frustrated by years of criticism from the boxing press and fans, he retired upon his second loss of the WBA title on April 30, 2005 (to James "Lights-Out" Toney). Ruiz un-retired in 10 days, after finding out that James Toney had tested positive for anabolic steroids. The official outcome, a unanimous-decision defeat, was changed to a no-contest; the WBA ordered that Ruiz retain the title. Ruiz then filed a lawsuit against Toney, claiming that he had damaged Ruiz's boxing career (due to Toney's use of illegal steroids before their bout).
On December 17, 2005, he lost his title for the first time — in controversial fashion, — to Nikolai Valuev. Ruiz lost a rematch for the vacant WBA Heavyweight title with Valuev on August 30, 2008, once again in controversial fashion.
After Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield for the undisputed (WBA, WBC, and IBF) heavyweight title in late 1999, the WBA ordered Lewis to defend the title against Ruiz, their #1-ranked contender, but Lewis refused. Though he had been undefeated since a loss against David Tua in 1996, the level of competition Ruiz had been facing was suspect and the only name he had beaten (to date) was a nearly 40-year-old Tony Tucker.
Ruiz and his management sued, claiming that WBA rules entitled him to a title shot. A judge agreed, but rather than face Ruiz in a bout that was seen as commercially unattractive, Lewis instead fought Michael Grant, considered to be a very worthy contender at the time, having knocked out a series of recognized "name" opponents on HBO. After learning of this, the judge decreed that upon entering the ring against Grant on April 29, 2000, Lewis would automatically forfeit the WBA title.
Ruiz fought former champion Holyfield to fill the vacancy on August 12, 2000, losing by unanimous decision (this result made Holyfield the first to win a world heavyweight title on four separate occasions). Many observers and boxing reporters felt that the underdog Ruiz had done enough to win.
Due to this controversial decision, the WBA ordered an immediate rematch in early 2001, and Ruiz won the WBA title. Some critics still believe the decision controversial (Ruiz was on the ground for a few minutes after Holyfield appeared to deliver a low punch to the groin). Footage following the match showed that the punch may have been legal, but it wasn't disputed.
Ruiz defended the title twice: a controversial draw in a third match against Holyfield where the press believed Holyfield to have won, and a disqualification victory against Kirk Johnson where the Canadian contender was disqualified for repeated low blows in the tenth round. Ruiz was accused in both the second Holyfield fight and the Johnson fight of faking low blows that actually seemed to be closer to his beltline than his groin (although Johnson was shown on replays to hit Ruiz below the belt several times).
On March 1, 2003, Ruiz was contracted to fight Roy Jones, Jr., who at the time was The Ring light heavyweight champion. If Jones was to beat Ruiz in the fight, he would join Bob Fitzsimmons, Michael Spinks, and Michael Moorer as the only three fighters to win titles at light heavyweight and heavyweight as well as becoming the second fighter (Fitzsimmons being the first) to win titles at both middleweight and heavyweight. Ruiz, who said referee Jay Nady "wouldn't let me fight my fight", lost a unanimous decision to Jones and moved back into the WBA's contender pool.
Ruiz, however, would receive another shot before 2003 was out. As champion Jones was required to face the WBA's number one contender, former WBO champion Vitali Klitschko. Neither the Jones nor the Klitschko camps were able to agree to a fight by an imposed deadline, so Jones became a champion-in-recess. Klitschko, however, did not want to fight the #2 contender, former WBC, IBF, and lineal champion Hasim Rahman, for the interim championship. After David Tua, the #3 contender, also turned down the fight against Rahman, Ruiz, the #5 contender and the only one interested in the fight, decided to accept. He fought Rahman on December 13, 2003, and with a unanimous decision victory became the WBA's interim champion. When Jones announced on February 24, 2004, that he would return to competing in the light heavyweight division, the WBA took the interim tag off Ruiz, and he became an official two-time WBA heavyweight champion.
On April 17, 2004, Ruiz fought the first defense of his second world title. He retained it with an eleventh-round technical knockout of Fres Oquendo at Madison Square Garden. This fight was historic in that it was the first time two Hispanics/Latinos faced each other for a version of world heavyweight title.
On November 13 of that same year, Ruiz retained the belt with a controversial unanimous decision over Polish-American Andrzej Gołota (a.k.a., "Andrew" Golota) – among other things he suffered two knockdowns and a one-point deduction by referee Randy Neumann. Ruiz vs Golata was the Main event of Don King's Night of Heavyweights card, it did 120,000 Pay-Per-View buys
On April 30, 2005, Ruiz lost the title to James "Lights Out" Toney in Madison Square Garden by unanimous decision, marking the second time that Ruiz had lost to a former middleweight champion. However, after Toney failed the post-match drug test (for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid), the New York Athletic Commission suspended him from boxing in the United States for 90 days, and fined him $10,000 (U.S.). The WBA banned the aging (then 36 years old) Toney from fighting for its heavyweight title for the next two years. This resulted in Toney's win being changed to a "no contest" — basically, a nullification. Ruiz came out of retirement before it was found out that Toney would be suspended and he would be reinstated as champion.
On December 17, 2005, Ruiz lost the WBA Championship in Berlin to 7 ft. tall, 324-lb. Russian Nikolai Valuev. The official outcome was a majority decision (scored 114-116, 113-116, and 114-114), but it was also a controversial one. Ruiz was convinced that his jab / combination-punch technique had given him a clear victory. He demanded that his promoter, Don King, set up an immediate re-match with the now-first-ever Russian world heavyweight champion. Ruiz's long-time manager, Norman Stone, declared that they would also formally petition the WBA: after all, the 10,000 German spectators booed when the decision was announced. Ruiz's camp claimed that the Germans booed because they too felt that the outcome was unjust. Wilfried Sauerland, the manager who rescued Valuev's career from obscurity two years earlier, angrily countered that the fans had booed because Stone's in-ring behavior had agitated them.
In September 2006 Ruiz announced that he would be managed by Sauerland. His former manager Norman Stone retired on December 22, 2005, stating that the decision in the loss to Valuev was the last straw, and he would continue to support Ruiz from retirement.
After the loss Don King announced his intention to still promote Ruiz. King had become aware of Ruiz after his KO win over the former IBF title holder Tony Tucker in 1998. Ruiz followed up the loss to Valuev with a fight against up-and-coming contender Ruslan Chagaev. In a close fight, Chagaev prevailed, taking a split decision with scores of 117-111 and 116-112 for Chagaev, and 115-114 for Ruiz. Chagaev became the mandatory challenger for a shot at Valuev, whom he defeated on April 14, 2007, to claim the WBA heavyweight championship.
Ruiz faced Otis Tisdale on October 13, 2007, and ended the fight with a TKO victory in the 2nd round as referee Pete Podgorski called a halt to the bout as Tisdale went down for the third time. The bout was scheduled for 10 rounds. On March 8, 2008, Ruiz won a 12-round unanimous decision over Jameel McCline in Mexico.
Valuev defeated Ruiz by unanimous decision on August 30, 2008. Scores were 114-113, 116-113, and 116-111. The result was initially declared a split decision win for Valuev. The 114-113 score by ringside judge Takeshi Shimakawa was announced in favor of Ruiz. Shimakawa alerted WBA officials after that his score was intended for Valuev. One of the scorecards had the names of the fighters in opposite order, resulting in the confusion.
The decision was once again unpopular with the live crowd as some booed the outcome, much like the first match in December 2005.
After petitioning the WBA to protest against the outcome of his controversial fight with Valuev, Ruiz was made the WBA's mandatory challenger to fight the winner of Chagaev-Valuev II in 2009. As that bout was cancelled, Ruiz stepped aside as mandatory challenger so Valuev could fight Cruiserweight Champion David Haye. On the undercard to that fight Ruiz stopped Adnan Serin in 7 rounds. Ruiz, coming in at 226 pounds (his lightest since 2001), dominated his overmatched opponent to retain his mandatory challenge to the WBA belt. Valuev later lost a majority decision to David Haye, meaning Ruiz would now fight Haye for the WBA title, after Haye had recovered from a hand injury. When the fight took place on April 3 at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, Ruiz lost to Haye by TKO when his corner threw in the towel in the ninth round after suffering four knockdowns in the previous rounds. Ruiz, whose face was covered in blood, could not stand up to Haye's greater speed and power.
Following his loss to David Haye, Ruiz announced his retirement after an 18-year boxing career. In 2013, he opened Quietman Sports Gym in Medford, Massachusetts, offering both boxing and MMA (mixed martial arts) training to all ages. Here he provides an alternative for at-risk children and teenagers in the Greater Boston area. He has also indicated that he wants to return to boxing in some capacity as either a manager or trainer at some point. In 2014, boxing.com ranked Ruiz as number 83 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Heavyweights of All Time".
|Professional record summary|
|55 fights||44 wins||9 losses|
|55||Loss||44–9–1 (1)||David Haye||TKO||9 (12), 2:01||Mar 4, 2010||MEN Arena, Manchester, England||For WBA heavyweight title|
|54||Win||44–8–1 (1)||Adnan Serin||TKO||7 (10)||Nov 7, 2009||Nuremberg Arena, Nuremberg, Germany|
|53||Loss||43–8–1 (1)||Nikolai Valuev||UD||12||Aug 30, 2008||Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany||For vacant WBA heavyweight title|
|52||Win||43–7–1 (1)||Jameel McCline||UD||12||Mar 8, 2008||Plaza de Toros, Cancún, Mexico|
|51||Win||42–7–1 (1)||Otis Tisdale||TKO||2 (10), 0:45||Oct 13, 2007||Sears Centre Arena, Hoffman Estates, Illinois, U.S.|
|50||Loss||41–7–1 (1)||Ruslan Chagaev||SD||12||Nov 18, 2006||Burg-Wächter Castello, Düsseldorf, Germany|
|49||Loss||41–6–1 (1)||Nikolai Valuev||MD||12||Dec 17, 2005||Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany||Lost WBA heavyweight title|
|48||NC||41–5–1 (1)||James Toney||UD||12||Apr 30, 2005||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA heavyweight title;
For IBA heavyweight title;
Originally a UD win for Toney, later ruled an NC after he failed a drug test
|47||Win||41–5–1||Andrew Golota||UD||12||Nov 13, 2004||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA heavyweight title|
|46||Win||40–5–1||Fres Oquendo||TKO||11 (12), 2:33||Apr 17, 2004||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA heavyweight title|
|45||Win||39–5–1||Hasim Rahman||UD||12||Dec 13, 2003||Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Won WBA interim heavyweight title|
|44||Loss||38–5–1||Roy Jones Jr.||UD||12||Mar 1, 2003||Thomas & Mack Center Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||Lost WBA heavyweight title|
|43||Win||38–4–1||Kirk Johnson||DQ||10 (12), 2:17||Jul 27, 2002||Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||Retained WBA heavyweight title;
Johnson disqualified for repeated low blows
|42||Draw||37–4–1||Evander Holyfield||SD||12||Dec 15, 2001||Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.||Retained WBA heavyweight title|
|41||Win||37–4||Evander Holyfield||UD||12||Mar 3, 2001||Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||Won WBA heavyweight title|
|40||Loss||36–4||Evander Holyfield||UD||12||Aug 12, 2000||Paris Las Vegas, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||For vacant WBA heavyweight title|
|39||Win||36–3||Thomas Williams||TKO||2 (12), 0:50||Dec 11, 1999||Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, U.S.||Retained NABA heavyweight title|
|38||Win||35–3||Fernely Feliz||TKO||7 (12), 3:00||Jun 12, 1999||Aleppo Shrine Auditorium, Wilmington, Massachusetts, U.S.||Won vacant WBA–NABA heavyweight title|
|37||Win||34–3||Mario Cawley||TKO||4 (12), 1:09||Mar 13, 1999||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained WBA–NABA heavyweight title|
|36||Win||33–3||Jerry Ballard||TKO||4 (12), 2:17||Sep 19, 1998||Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title;
Won vacant WBA–NABA heavyweight title
|35||Win||32–3||Tony Tucker||TKO||11 (12), 0:58||Jan 31, 1998||Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|34||Win||31–3||Ray Anis||TKO||1 (12), 0:22||Jun 17, 1997||Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.||Retained NABF heavyweight title|
|33||Win||30–3||Jimmy Thunder||SD||12||Jan 14, 1997||Hale Arena, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.||Won vacant NABF heavyweight title|
|32||Win||29–3||Yuriy Yelistratov||TKO||3||Nov 26, 1996||York Hall, London, England|
|31||Win||28–3||Nathaniel Fitch||TKO||3 (6)||Oct 25, 1996||The Roxy, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|30||Win||27–3||Greg Pickrom||TKO||1 (10)||Jul 18, 1996||The Roxy, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|29||Win||26–3||Doug Davis||TKO||6 (10)||Jun 6, 1996||The Roxy, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|28||Loss||25–3||David Tua||KO||1 (12), 0:19||Mar 15, 1996||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Lost WBC International heavyweight title|
|27||Win||25–2||Steve Pannell||TKO||4 (10), 1:28||Oct 7, 1995||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|26||Win||24–2||Willie Jackson||KO||1 (10)||Aug 24, 1995||Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|25||Win||23–2||Derrick Roddy||KO||2 (12), 2:56||Jun 16, 1995||Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, London, England||Won vacant WBC International heavyweight title|
|24||Win||22–2||Michael Murray||TKO||4 (10)||May 17, 1995||Ipswich, England|
|23||Win||21–2||Jack Basting||TKO||1 (8)||Mar 30, 1995||York Hall, London, England|
|22||Win||20–2||Boris Powell||UD||10||Feb 4, 1995||Silver Nugget, North Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|21||Win||19–2||Rick Sullivan||KO||2||Oct 1, 1994||The Roxy, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|20||Loss||18–2||Danell Nicholson||SD||12||Aug 4, 1994||Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.||For vacant IBO heavyweight title|
|19||Win||18–1||Muhammad Askai||TKO||2||Jun 25, 1994||Revere, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|18||Win||17–1||Julius Francis||KO||4 (8), 2:38||May 25, 1994||Colston Hall, Bristol, England|
|17||Win||16–1||Carl Williams||PTS||6||Nov 27, 1993||Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
|16||Win||15–1||Cordwell Hylton||PTS||6||Nov 3, 1993||Whitchurch Leisure Centre, Bristol, England|
|16||Loss||14–1||Sergei Kobozev||SD||10||Aug 12, 1993||Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.|
|14||Win||14–0||Exum Speight||UD||8||Jun 25, 1993||Athletic Club, Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|13||Win||13–0||George Chambers||KO||1||Apr 30, 1993||Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|12||Win||12–0||Mark Sonnier||TKO||1||Apr 16, 1993||Cyclorama Building, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|11||Win||11–0||Juan Quintana||PTS||6||Apr 3, 1993||Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|10||Win||10–0||Lorenzo Poole||KO||1||Mar 20, 1993||Revere, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|9||Win||9–0||Derrick Jones||TKO||1||Mar 5, 1993||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Phil Prince||KO||1||Feb 20, 1993||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|7||Win||7–0||Miguel Rosa||TKO||2||Jan 30, 1993||Commonwealth Armory, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|6||Win||6–0||John Basil Jackson||PTS||6||Jan 16, 1993||Belmont, New Hampshire, U.S.|
|5||Win||5–0||Jesus Rohena||TKO||1, 1:46||Dec 10, 1992||Teachers Union Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|4||Win||4–0||John Basil Jackson||PTS||6||Nov 13, 1992||Revere, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||Barry Kirton||TKO||2||Nov 3, 1992||Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Mike Vasser||KO||1||Sep 12, 1992||Wonderland Greyhound Park, Revere, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||Kevin Parker||UD||4||Aug 20, 1992||Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Professional debut|
Ruiz, whose family is from Puerto Rico, has lived and trained in Las Vegas for the past several years, but he said he plans to return to the Boston area he was closely associated with during his career.
|Regional boxing titles|
Title last held byJames Oyebola
|WBC International heavyweight champion
June 16, 1995 – March 15, 1996
Title last held byTony Tucker
|NABF heavyweight champion
January 14, 1997 – January 1999
Title next held byMichael Grant
Title last held byFrancois Botha
|WBA–NABA heavyweight champion
September 19, 1998 – May 1999
Title next held byDerrick Jefferson
Title last held byDerrick Jefferson
|WBA–NABA heavyweight champion
June 12, 1999 – August 12, 2000
Lost bid for world title
Title next held byNate Jones
|World boxing titles|
|WBA heavyweight champion
March 3, 2001 – March 1, 2003
Roy Jones Jr.
|New title||WBA heavyweight champion
December 13, 2003 – February 20, 2004
Title next held byLuis Ortiz
Roy Jones Jr.
|WBA heavyweight champion
February 20, 2004 – December 17, 2005