posted on Dec, 14 2003 @ 11:13 PM
Associated Press - December 14, 2003
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Watching John Ruiz fight wasn't easy. For Hasim Rahman, beating him was even harder.
In a fight that drew boos almost every round, Ruiz put himself in position for another heavyweight title Saturday night by winning an ugly but
unanimous decision over Rahman.
Ruiz got in the harder and cleaner punches, but also held Rahman after almost every flurry in his first fight since losing the WBA title in a poor
performance against Roy Jones Jr. in March.
The fight went all 12 rounds, and the crowd booed loudly when it ended with Ruiz winning by 118-110 on one scorecard, 116-112 on a second and 115-114
on a third. The Associated Press had Ruiz ahead 117-112.
``I know it wasn't a pretty fight. I want to apologize for that,'' Ruiz said. ``I was more cautious than I was going in and fighting him.''
The fight between the two former heavyweight champions was billed as being for the WBA interim heavyweight title, with the winner becoming champion if
Jones refuses to fight him.
That appears likely, though Ruiz did little to show that he can be considered among the heavyweight elite.
``That was as ugly as it could be,'' Rahman said.
It surely wasn't pretty, but it was effective. From the opening bell Ruiz went in and threw a punch or two, then tied up Rahman before he could
``I couldn't do nothing with that,'' Rahman said. ``The jab was my power punch and look at his face, it's all busted up. A blind man could see he
didn't win eight rounds.''
The fight was part of a marathon card at the Boardwalk Hall that included title fights with welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga against Cory Spinks
and middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins against William Joppy.
``I can't always look good,'' Ruiz said. ``Some fights are grueling fights. I need an easier fight to look pretty.''
The tone for the fight was set almost from the opening punch. Ruiz threw it, then grabbed on to Rahman, a pattern that would repeat itself despite the
best efforts of referee Randy Neumann to keep the fighters separated.
By the second round, the crowd was already booing but, just as suddenly, Ruiz landed a right hand that wobbled Rahman. Ruiz immediately went after
Rahman, but wasn't able to land any more effective punches before the end of the round.
``He don't want to fight, he wants to hold,'' trainer Roger Mayweather told Rahman after the second round.
Neither fighter went down and neither appeared seriously hurt other than the right hand that left Rahman shaky in the second round.
``After the second round, I knew I had him,'' Ruiz said. ``I wobbled him, but I knew I needed to be careful because every time I wobbled him he came
back at me with wild right hands.''
Mayweather was so frustrated he went out to complain to referee Randy Neumann after the sixth round that Ruiz should be penalized for holding. Rahman
was also frustrated, but he was also getting beat to the punch by Ruiz, who landed the harder and more effective shots.
Rahman (35-5-1) hasn't won since stopping Lennox Lewis in April 2001 to win the heavyweight title in a shocking upset. He lost to Lewis in the
rematch, then lost to Evander Holyfield and had a draw with David Tua in his last fight.