Evander Holyfield has picked an often overlooked former champion to test all of the top men in the division and have a good chance of winning.
‘The Real Deal’ is a boxing icon – the only fighter in history to go undisputed at cruiserweight and then heavyweight, as well as being the only four time heavyweight champ.
His record of 44 wins from 57 fights in a tough era makes him as qualified as any man to predict what might happen as things heat up in the current heavyweight scene.
He spoke to ES News recently, and when the interviewer put it to Holyfield that Andy Ruiz would test Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, the hall of famer agreed.
“You know what, that’s the same one I thought would be a good fight, cause he’s quick too. He got good defence.”
“He’s the only one I feel that can beat all of them. I sparred him. I remember telling my friend, I said, ‘look, hey, this guy looks like he can’t do nothing.’ I said ‘but God, man, he got fast hands, good defence and all that.'”
“You can’t look at a person and tell that they can’t fight. Once they start moving you can.”
It’s high praise from one former champion to another – and it’s not the first time, either.
The sparring session Holyfield refers to took place when he was 46 years old and Ruiz was just 19. It’s something that he credits as spawning the realisation that it was time to hang up the gloves, as per Pro Boxing Fans.
“When I sparred that guy Ruiz and when he was 19-years-old he was able to tag me when I was 46 and I knew then.
“I don’t pass my age range where it no longer makes sense to get [hit] like that by somebody you think you should be able to beat, because experience and all this, but he had speed and I was losing speed.”
Ruiz shot to glory with a huge upset over Anthony Joshua – stopping the then unified champion in his first big outing in the States. A mixture of an improved game plan from ‘AJ’ and a lack of preparation from Ruiz meant that the belts switched back to Britain in an immediate rematch.
Now, after wins over Chris Arreola And Luis Ortiz, Ruiz is in line to face Wilder in a final eliminator for Fury’s WBC belt. Whilst the Mexican seems keen, Wilder’s side are stalling in the hopes of making a fight with Joshua – more money and hype, but no guaranteed title shot on the other side.