Saturday 24 February 2018

Boxing: Haye proves box office with Ruiz demolition

Steve Bunce

David Haye is a glorious remedy to the decline in entertainment, thrills and personality that has slowly been eroding the heavyweight division for too long.

There are some people who still talk about the loss of the sweet science and the neglected art of self-defence, but hopefully they were all tucked up in bed with their Muhammad Ali DVDs and cocoa before Haye danced to his latest night of fun in Manchester on Saturday.

Haye's first defence of his WBA belt against American John Ruiz was not a flawless display of sensible boxing fought like a game of human chess. It was, instead, a brutal and brutalising slugfest.

There was not much in the way of insults in the build-up: Ruiz has punched for pay as the Quiet Man for 18 years. However, the niceties came to an abrupt and chilling end in the opening 15 seconds when Ruiz was sent crashing to the canvas with a shattered nose and eyes so wide they looked frozen open.

Ruiz somehow regained his footing, but not his senses and he was sent tumbling again inside a minute; this time he complained that he had been hit on the back of the head, which he had. The crowd of 19,200 were on their feet and often their seats, convinced that the fight was over. It was not, and Ruiz held and grabbed his way to the safety of the 60-second break.

Ruiz has not been stopped since he was blasted in 19 seconds nearly 15 years ago; nine of his 11 world title fights have gone 12 rounds, so it was no great surprise that he came out for the second, the third and the fourth rounds and chased Haye. It was one of the bravest performances by an American heavyweight since Mike Tyson stood as sacrifice against Lennox Lewis on a night when Iron Mike proved his heart by risking his life.

However, in both rounds five and six, Ruiz -- with his face distorting under each thudding punch -- went down again from a mixture of legally landed textbook punches and desperate swipes.


Haye was breathing heavily and clearly suffering from his lack of sparring during a long training camp that was ruined by a cut eye. He was bouncing off the ropes into Ruiz's educated combinations and not sliding off in defensive patterns.

The capacity crowd enjoyed every second of the savagery and in rounds seven and eight they watched the desire slowly leave Ruiz's own fighting heart.

The end came in round nine with Ruiz's shattered cornerman Miguel Diaz finally mounting the ropes in a mercy mission at about the same time that the referee waved his arms and embraced the battered American.

Irish Independent

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