February 28, 2003

Ruiz And Jones Go Nose To Nose

By: Fiona Manning

Fighters go head to head, toe to toe but on Wendesday WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz and his challenger Roy Jones Jr went nose to nose then almost fist to fist before being separated.

Ruiz may be known as “The Quiet Man” but there was nothing quiet about the physical scuffle that broke out between him and Jones at the final press conference (of dozens) for their legendary battle set to take place on Saturday in the outdoor Pavilion at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Ruiz may have been irked by the remarks Jones has made leading up to his challenge of the heavyweight title.

Jones, who is attempting to make history by being the second fighter in a century to make the leap from the heavyweight division to capture the heavyweight crown, has needled Ruiz at every opportunity.

“I’d like to see the man who can beat me,” said Jones in opening remarks for the press at the Palace Ball Room on the Promenade level where the two men were set to weigh-in on Thursday. The rest of the card will weigh in Friday in the same location.

Ruiz looked visibly upset, then took the mike. “Does a pimp catch his ho when she owes him money?” he smirked. “That’s how I’m going to fight Jones.”

Onlookers were stunned that Ruiz made such street references. Up until now the two men have been cordial and respectful, reserving their insults for fight promoter Don King.

“There’s only one way for this fight to go. He’s going to go through the ropes. I am going to run Roy Jones right out of the ring,” said Ruiz.

Jones, who prides himself on being the ultimate fighting man (he breeds and fights roosters and dogs in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida), shifted slightly in his seat.

He’s heard worse: undisputed world middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins once challenged him on national TV and said that unless Jones fought him, he would “come down to Florida and kill all your chickens.”

Jones went berserk at the time, threw off his microphone attachments and stormed out of the studio.

This time, Jones fumed and as they went head to head for the traditional staredown pic, the two men ended up nose to nose.

A collective intake of breath was not disappointed. Jones who had clearly hoped to intimidate Ruiz, found he hadn’t rattled any cages, nor indeed, ruffled the bigger man’s feathers.

Jones suddenly reached out and shoved Ruiz who had to be restrained from retaliating.

It was clear that super-promoter Don King was enjoying these strained relations. “That’s what makes this country great,” he burbled irrelevantly. “Only in America!”

He popped his cigar into his mouth so he could wave the two ever-present US flags in his fists.

Only in America and only in Las Vegas can a fight generate so much attention. Traditionally, the big good man beats the big smaller man but the boxing world knows Jones is a phenomenon.

“Don’t bet on it,” growled Ruiz when La Prensa asked him his opinion of this theory. “Jones is too full of his own PR. He claims everyone else is talking BS. Well this is a fight for the fans and it is a fight for Latino people everywhere.

“Roy Jones is one small man who’s going to be very, very sorry on Sunday morning.”

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