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Boxing: Ruiz, Rahman Both Have Lot to Prove in Heavyweight Elimination Fight

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posted on Dec, 12 2003 @ 01:58 PM
Associated Press - December 12, 2003

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Bernard Hopkins wants to show the world his skills when he defends his middleweight titles against William Joppy.

He better hope the world is still awake by the time his fight finally takes place Saturday night.

Hopkins and Joppy meet near the end of a marathon card that features a rising star in welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga, two former heavyweight champions, the son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks and enough minor title fights to confuse even the most avid boxing fan.

Hopkins will be making the 17th defense of his middleweight title for a lot less money and a lot less attention than he feels he is due. But he hopes a win over the former champion Joppy and a release from his contract with Don King will put him in line for possible big money fights with Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley.

``They don't want to see me shine again,'' Hopkins said. ``You would see greatness with Sugar Shane and Hopkins fighting, or De La Hoya and Hopkins.''

Time is running out for the 39-year-old Hopkins, whose contrary relationship with various promoters has kept him from a number of big fights.

Since upsetting Felix Trinidad to unify the middleweight title, he has had only two fights, against mediocre opponents. King says he's like ``someone who won the lottery, then lost the ticket.''

``The principle of standing up for what I believe is right has delayed my greatness,'' Hopkins said. ``What has also cost me fights is my talent.''

Hopkins certainly has the talent, as he showed when he gave the previously unbeaten Trinidad a beating that some believe prompted him to retire. He's 42-2-1 with 41 knockouts, and his lack of wear and tear in the ring makes him a young 39.

In Joppy he faces a fighter who was good enough to get in the middleweight elimination fights that ended with Hopkins beating Trinidad. Joppy was stopped in the fifth round by Trinidad before he met Hopkins.

``I was defeated by Felix Trinidad. He defeated Trinidad. That steps him up an extra notch,'' Joppy said. ``He's the man, the undefeated, undisputed middleweight champion of the world. I take my hat off to him.''

Joppy will actually bring a belt into the ring because the WBA, in its great wisdom, declared Hopkins a ``super champion'' and had Joppy fight for its 160-pound belt.

In another fight on the card, former heavyweight champions John Ruiz and Hasim Rahman meet in a fight that is crucial to the careers of both fighters.

The fight is billed as an interim championship for the WBA title that Roy Jones Jr. took from Ruiz.

What that means, in the convoluted world of boxing titles, is that the winner becomes the WBA champion should Jones decide not to follow WBA rules on fighting the winner and fight someone like Mike Tyson instead.

The loser might as well pack up his gloves, or be prepared to go way down the ladder before getting in this position again.

``It's a great opportunity,'' Ruiz said. ``Now it's up to me to go out there and do something with it.''

Rahman, like Ruiz, has something to prove if he is to remain a top contender. Rahman won the heavyweight title with a one-punch knockout of Lennox Lewis, only to lose it to him the same way in his next fight.

Rahman went on to lose to Evander Holyfield last December, then fought a disputed draw with David Tua that most thought he won.

The heavyweight fight is part of a card full of champions and champion wannabes, much of which will be shown on pay-per-view from the Boardwalk Hall.

``Eight (title fights) on the scene, five on the screen,'' promoter Don King said.

Among the other fights are:

- WBA and WBC welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga in a unification fight against IBF champion Cory Spinks.

- Former 140-pound champion Zab Judah against Colombia's Jaime Rangel in a 12-round fight for the lightly regarded WBO title held by Judah.

- IBF light flyweight champion Victor Burgos of Mexico against WBA champion Rosendo Alvarez of Nicaragua in a scheduled 12-round fight.

- WBA 154-pound champion Alejandro Garcia of Mexico, who has 27 knockouts in 27 fights, in a title defense against Travis Simms of Norwalk, Conn., who is 22-0 with 17 knockouts.

- IBF super flyweight champion Luis Perez of Nicaragua against Felix Machado of Venezuela.

- WBC cruiserweight champion Wayne Braithwaite of Guyana against Luis Pineda of Panama.


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