Haye v Ruiz - big fight preview
An old saying in boxing, 'styles make fights' refers to the belief that the way a particular boxer fights can present both natural advantages and hindrances against different opponents.
For example, a very heavy puncher may find himself a favourite against a fighter who likes to operate on the inside, yet he'd be disadvantaged when facing a slicker boxer who moves, jabs, and looks to score points.
Sometimes, these clashes result in great match-ups, when a brawling, attacking fighter has to chase down a slippery, defensive opponent. Have a look at the first fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran to see what I mean.
However, sometimes, just as you may have found out to your cost with that tie and shirt combo, styles clash badly, and produce an all-round stinker. Carl Froch and Andre Dirrell both wanted to win in their opening bout of the Super Six tournament, but one man's chasing and another's avoidance created a total lack of action, and left most observers feeling cold.
John Ruiz has a style that, at best, can be described as 'effective.' Others have labelled him 'the dullest fighter on Earth,' 'a cure for insomnia,' and a participant in 'the most boring trilogy in boxing history.'
His nickname, 'The Quiet Man,' hardly strikes fear into opponents or excitement in fans, he's not a devastating puncher, he doesn't produce press-conference thrills or provide any sound bites for the media to latch onto. He's a hard sell, and his highlight reel, if such a thing exists, would consist of him holding onto his opponents, spoiling his way to wins, and operating with jab and grab tactics that frustrate fighters and fans in equal measure.
In stark contrast, David Haye has largely fought with a single-minded determination to destroy his opponents as soon as possible. Of the 23 wins he's chalked up, 21 have been knockouts, with two notable exceptions.
Ismail Abdoul was carried the full twelve by Haye who later admitted he'd used the fight as an exercise in which to gain some professional rounds, limiting his punch output and making sure he took a comfortable points win, which he did by winning every round on every card.
This may have been a worthwhile tactic, given Haye's propensity for ending things early - fifteen opponents have not heard the bell for the fourth round. His other victory that needed the involvement of the judges was his latest fight, a majority decision win against Nikolai Valuev, the gigantic Russian who Haye promised to knock out but instead bamboozled with his movement, speed, agility, and points scoring shot selection that had the big man swinging at thin air time and again.
I thought a majority decision was a poor verdict, as Haye landed far more shots than the lumbering giant, who may have pressed the fight but was simply well beaten by perfect tactics and expert counterpunching.
What that fight showed was Haye's ability to adapt and change his usual tactic of charging in, all guns blazing, and trying to take his opponent out early. Then again, Valuev was a truly massive man, outweighing Haye by 99 pounds.
It would have been suicidal of Haye to try and get involved in a stand-up trading session with someone who could tie him up and use every ounce of his seven foot, twenty-two stone frame to leave Haye exhausted.
The same cannot be said of Ruiz, who's an inch shorter than Haye and will probably only outweigh him by around one stone. He's remarkably similar in size to Monte Barrett, who was dropped five times en-route to a stoppage loss in Haye's first heavyweight appearance following the beatings he doled out to Enzo Maccarinelli and Jean-Marc Mormeck at cruiserweight.
I think therefore that there will be no question of Haye's intentions this time out. Ruiz is a dull fighter who will come looking to drag Haye into a scrappy war of attrition which might disappoint those in attendance, but it's won him two heavyweight titles in the past and he's not going to change now.
Haye is saying that he's not looking past this fight but somewhere in the back of his mind lurk the figures of Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, and he knows a statement has to made against Ruiz to make a fight with one of them happen for definite.
A dull, laboured points win against a man who's career has been made of such contests won't do. I believe Haye has to go out with a totally different game plan to the one he showed against Valuev, and go back to the swashbuckling days gone by, albeit with a more measured approach.
I see Haye feeling out Ruiz early, but not for long and he could possibly start throwing the trademark right-hand bombs as early as the first. Ruiz of late has been in with big, slow heavyweights, including Valuev twice but also Jameel McCline and Otis Tisdale. Haye is the polar opposite of these men and will be so much faster than anything Ruiz is used to that it could shock him right from the start.
I think Haye becomes only the second man ever to stop Ruiz, and I think he stops him early.