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Ruiz To Fight McCline On March 8th

Former two-time heavyweight champion John Ruiz (42-7-1, 29 KOs) hopes to continue working his way back into title contention when he takes on ring veteran Jameel McCline (38-8-3, 23 KOs) on March 8th at the Estadio Olimpico Andres Quintana Roo, in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Ruiz, 36, has changed his once excessive clinching style of fighting in recent bouts to a more crowd-pleasing slugging style, starting with his majority decision loss to Nikolay Valuev in December 2005.

Unfortunately, Ruiz wasn’t able to quite match up with the massive size of the 7′ foot 320 lb Valuev, and ended up losing a close decision. However, Ruiz looked good against then title contender Rusland Chagaev in their bout in November 2006, but against lost a close decision, this time by a split decision. I, however, had Ruiz beating both Valuev and Chagaev in those two bouts. It didn’t surprise me thought that Ruiz ended up on the short end of the score, because both bouts were in Germany, and Valuev and Chagaev were fighting in their new home countries.

However, Ruiz seems to has improved tremendously, despite his advanced age, and looked impressive in his most recent bout against Otis Tisdale, battering him around the ring and ultimately stopping him in the 2nd round. Ruiz looked good enough to beat most of the other heavyweights, such as Sultan Ibragimov (WBO), Samuel Peter & Oleg Maskaev (WBC) and Ruslan Chagaev (WBA). Although, I think Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF heavyweight champion, would still be too big for Ruiz to take down.

By selecting McCline, Ruiz, ranked #3 in the WBA, is hoping that will keep him moving forward to an eventual showdown with the current title holder Chagaev. However, by the time that Ruiz gets a title shot, likely early 2009, Valuev will probably be the champion by then, as he’s next in line to take on Chagaev, and I see him beating him this time around. This, then would set up a rematch between Valuev and Ruiz, both of whom could finally settle things from last time out when their fight failed to generate a conclusive winner.

Though Ruiz is definitely getting up there in age, he is a very young 36, and looks and fights more like a fighter 10 years younger. It’s remarkable how young he looks, as if he’s not aged at all in the past decade. Ruiz has lost none of his power, speed or his excellent jab, which made him so hard to beat in the past. He’s clearly got the tools still to be one of the best in the division. Now all he needs is another chance at the title.

As for McCline, 37, he’s had an incredible four shots a heavyweight titles, but unfortunately has lost every one of them. It seems that he’s just been lucky, perhaps because of his huge 6’6″ 270 lb frame, which makes him look good as an opponent on television. Despite having a good jab and decent power, he’s never been able to put it all together when it counted, and has lost his many opportunities. His stamina, it seems, is his biggest problem, for he seems to fade early in his bouts, usually by the 6th round, causing him to lose against good fighters.

MCline has some good wins over B-level fighters like Charles Shufford, Lance Whitaker, Rob Calloway, and Terry Smith, but has failed when stepping it up against A-class fighters such as Wladimir Klitschko, Nikolay Valuev, Samuel Peter, Chris Byrd and Calvin Brock. In his title shot against Valuev, in Janaury 2007, Valuev injured his left knee in the 3rd round, causing the fight to be stopped. It was an unfortunate injury, because McCline was just beginning to get into the fight, and had nailed Valuev with several blazing fast combination moments before the injury occurred.

McCline, ranked #9 in the World Boxing Council, looked good against Peter in a bout for the WBC interim title on October 2007, knocking Peter down three times. However, as usual, McCline faded badly in the 2nd half of the fight and ended up losing a close unanimous decision. However, a win against Ruiz, would change things immediately for McCline, and place him in the position to get an almost unheard of 5th shot at a heavyweight title.

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