Jones 'willing and ready' to fight Ruiz

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Roy Jones Jr. is ready to move up to the heavyweight ranks and fight WBA champion John Ruiz on March 1.

Jones said Tuesday he is ''willing and ready'' to fight Ruiz in an attempt to become only the second light heavyweight champion to win a heavyweight title.

''I'm not doing this because of lawyers drawing up papers and saying you're trapped because you signed it,'' Jones said. ''I'm doing it because this is what Roy Jones Jr. and only Roy Jones Jr. wants to do.''

Jones broke his silence on the proposed fight in the wake of threats by attorneys for Ruiz to sue him if he didn't follow through with an agreement last week spelling out details of the bout.

In a statement released by his adviser, Brad Jacobs, Jones said he always intended to go ahead with the fight.

''As far as any lawyer talking about how I can't get off the contract I wouldn't have signed it if I was trying to get out,'' Jones said. ''If I didn't want to do it, I wouldn't do it.''

Under terms of the contract, Jones will receive a guarantee of $10 million and could make much more if the fight is a pay-per-view success. Ruiz gave up his demand for a guarantee to get the fight, but will receive 40 percent of the net profits.

Jones is generally regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter of the last decade, but he has been criticized for an unwillingness to take risks. In recent years, he has fought a string of contenders ranked No. 1 by various organizations but no real threat to beat him.

He would be taking a big risk against Ruiz, giving away 30 to 40 pounds against the WBA champion even if he bulks up to a planned 195 pounds or so.

Ruiz, on the other hand, has gotten little respect as a true heavyweight champion, unable to match the fame of Lennox Lewis while making a tidy living being the WBA champ. Lewis holds the WBC title, and is generally recognized as the best heavyweight around.

Ruiz won the title by beating Evander Holyfield in their second fight, defended it with a draw against Holyfield and in July beat Kirk Johnson when Johnson was disqualified for low blows.

Michael Spinks was the only light heavyweight champion to go up and win a heavyweight title. He beat Larry Holmes in 1985.

Tony Cardinale, the attorney for Ruiz, said the boxer would have been forced to sue Jones if he didn't fight. Ruiz gave up deals to defend his title against Jameel McCline and Hasim Rahman while waiting for Jones to sign.

''Basically we put John Ruiz' career on hold the last two months,'' Cardinale said. ''We've already blown two fights. We're not blowing any more. Either he fights Johnny or he pays for the lost opportunities.''

Cardinale said Jones had 10 days from last Thursday, when Ruiz signed the agreement, to finalize the deal.

Jones adviser Brad Jacobs expects details of the contract -- which mainly consist only of items such as tickets, plane fare and hotel rooms -- to be finalized within the next two weeks.

The fight will be held at the UNLV campus arena, which seats about 19,000 for boxing.

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