Bullish Haye predicts early win over Ruiz

DAVID Haye is ready to justify his claim of being boxing's most devastating puncher when he defends his WBA world heavyweight title for the first time.

The 29-year-old Londoner predicts a "dramatic" early conclusion to his showdown with the wily American veteran John Ruiz in Manchester tomorrow night.

Ruiz has been knocked out just once in 54 contests, slumping to a first-round defeat to David Tua in 1996, and is respected for his durability. For Haye, an opponent who went 36 rounds with Evander Holyfield over three fights a decade ago provides the perfect opportunity to prove he belongs in the heavyweight division.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I believe that pound for pound I'm the hardest puncher in the world and this will be a great indication of that," said the former undisputed cruiserweight champion. "John Ruiz got stopped 14 years ago when he was caught cold early in the fight by one of the biggest punchers out there. Stuff like that happens, but since then he hasn't shown any signs of having a weak punch defence. I'm looking to make a statement in this fight, going out there and doing something dramatic. I think people will be shocked.

"As the heavyweight champion everyone is coming at me stronger than ever before. They all want to rip my title from me. I'm aware of that and they say it's harder to hold on to a title than to win it."

Haye, who has ended 21 of his 23 contests early with a knockout rate of 88 per cent, predicts the fight will finish inside the distance. "I've trained for 12 hard rounds but I want it to be less," he said. "I don't believe that, on my day, anyone in the world can take the punishment I'm willing to dish out for 12 rounds."

Ruiz, known as the 'Quietman', is in great shape and has exuded a steely determination all week.

"A lot of people say they're going to knock me out and put me six feet under, I've heard it all," he said. "There's no need for verbal abuse. Boxing is about fighting and that's what we'll do on Saturday."