By Lyle Fitzsimmons
At first glance, you’re thinking, it’s clearly the work of an over-caffeinated publicist.
And the more you stumble across Klitschko-baiting phrases like “Chicken Kiev” and over-the-top hyperbole like “bone-chilling knockout,” “path of destruction” and “comatose heavyweight scene,” the more you wonder if this Ontario-based Jason Abelson character might have come to the media relations game after a failed stint in stand-up comedy.
Then you actually speak to Donovan Ruddock.
And you quickly realize, if anything, that the chatter in the press release was sort of conservative.
“I’m a machine,” the Jamaican-born Canadian says, with precisely the right mix of confidence, bravado and Caribbean-lilted menace. “I’m a 2012 killing machine.”
But lest you assume it’s just the loudmouth progeny of a long-dulled “Razor,” think again.
This bully is 48 years old… and he’s got some born-again chin-checking plans.
“Nobody out there is going to run to get at me,” he said, more than 3,800 days since his last gloved appearance and apparently 100 pounds down from his top-end sabbatical weight. “Once they get a look at me in the gym, they’re not going to want to get in the ring with me.
“I’m gonna be out there decapitating people.”
If your default setting is to believe the claims of ex-heavyweight contenders whose signature wins were three presidents ago – and whose best-known conquerors are enshrined in Canastota – well, the pictures might actually help augment the blather.
Ruddock, who weighed a bulky 228 and 238 in two brawls with Mike Tyson and 231½ for a two-round loss to Lennox Lewis a year later, claims to be closer to 220 these days after ballooning past 300 in the 10 years since he defeated Egerton Marcus – at 241½ – for the Canadian championship belt in October 2001.
He surely looks fit and trim in images supplied by the aforementioned Abelson, whom he said was trying to arrange a next-generation coming-out party – in the form of an actual fight against an actual opponent – sometime before the end of this month in Chicago.
And assuming the return doesn’t yield the sort of ugliness one might expect from a nearly AARP-eligible man who’s not been competitively punched since Justin Bieber was in grade school, the wordy 6-foot-3 power-hitter has some lofty follow-up plans.
“The next step would be to step up the competition and go after the Canadian champion (Neven Pajkic), because he’s got a belt that I never lost and it’s about time I get it back,” Ruddock said. “I figure I could take care of him in two rounds, and, within a year or so, it’s time to chase my title shot.”
Mssrs. Vitali and/or Wladimir… ummm, he means you.
“Let’s be realistic, I don’t have time to be playing games,” he said. “I’ll fight them back to back. I’m targeting them right now. I’ll fight Vitali. I’ll fight Wladimir. I’ll fight their mom, their father and their sister, too. I’m coming after the whole family.”
But he insists it wasn’t the plan all along.
Voluntarily on the sidelines for several years with a chronic post-Marcus shoulder injury, Ruddock said he headed back to the gym simply with an eye on conditioning after his weight got out of hand. However, upon quickly shedding pounds and enjoying regained athleticism, the boxing bug re-bit.
For statistics’ sake, he weighed 183 pounds for his pro debut in 1982, surpassed 200 for the first time two years later and tipped-in at a career-high 254 for wins over Jose Ribalta (KO 1) and Harold Sconiers (SD 10) in 1999 and 2001, respectively.
He assumes he’ll be 220 for the return… in Chicago or beyond.
“I was just trying to feel better and I realized what I was doing was getting in great shape,” he said. “I never put limits on myself and I wasn’t just trying to lose 20 or 30 pounds. Once it started coming off and I was feeling great, I figured I could go ahead and lose it all.”
And as for the age thing… he’s got an answer for that, too.
“Guys like Bernard Hopkins have done respectable things at an advanced age, but it’s just a number for humans and I’m a spiritual being,” he said. “Most guys abuse their body and they can never get it back, but I never drank and never smoked. I’m different than that.
“If I go in the ring and I realize it’s an illusion and I lose a fight, I’ll retire right away. I’m not going to risk my health. That’s why I quit the first time with my shoulder. I’m not coming back just to come back.
“I can do this. I can rebuild him. I can make him faster. I can make him better.”
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBO super featherweight title – Flemington, Australia
Will Tomlinson (champion) vs. Daniel Ruiz (No. 50 contender)
Tomlinson (18-0-1, 12 KO): First title defense; Sixth fight scheduled for 12 rounds (5-0, 2 KO)
Ruiz (27-4-1, 19 KO): First title fight; Lost only previous fight outside Mexico
Fitzbitz says: “Young Australian may still be in division’s second tier, but visiting Mexican shouldn’t be more than a stern winning test in initial title defense.” Tomlinson by decision
IBF junior bantamweight title – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. (champion) vs. Juan Alberto Rosas (No. 1 contender)
Sanchez (13-1-1, 7 KO): First title defense; Third fight scheduled for 12 rounds (1-1)
Rosas (36-6, 27 KO): Third title fight; Held IBF title in 2010 (zero defenses)
Fitzbitz says: “Late-20s veteran has fought better competition and should be able to take young champion into more difficult deeper waters.” Rosas by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. For example, fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.
Last week's picks: 2-1
Overall picks record: 309-103 (75.0 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.