MASHANTUCKET, Conn., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Evander Holyfield has two opponents Saturday night when he meets WBA heavyweight titleholder John Ruiz in a bid to regain a portion of the crown for the fifth time.
First, he must beat back Father Time, who has taken a lot of the luster off a great champion.
The 39-year-old Holyfield (37-5-1, 25 KOs) will be meeting Ruiz for the third time in 16 months. In their first meeting, Holyfield captured a close and hotly disputed decision and won the vacant WBA strap in Las Vegas in August 2000.
The WBA mandated a rematch, and seven months later Ruiz would be vindicated as he was crowned the first Hispanic heavyweight champion. He became the second fighter to knock down the aging Holyfield in the 11th round en route to a unanimous decision.
Ruiz and Holyfield were supposed to meet in China in August, but the fight was postponed until November because uiz suffered a neck injury in training. The November date in China was later scrapped and the fight was moved to American soil for fear of future terrorist attacks stemming from the Sept. 11 assaults.
The overachieving Ruiz (37-4, 27 KOs) hails from nearby Chelsea and has held his own against Holyfield in their two meetings. He plans to put an end to Holyfield's storied career, with an eye on consolidating the heavyweight crown.
"It's great for me to be able to defend my title at home," Ruiz said. "I plan on knocking Holyfield into retirement before moving on to unify the heavyweight titles."
A former undisputed cruiserweight champion, the battle-tested Holyfield is 10-4-1 with five knockouts in heavyweight title bouts. In his prime, Holyfield would have had little trouble with Ruiz.
"I plan to retire from boxing as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world," Holyfield said. "The first step to regaining all of the major titles is to win back my WBA heavyweight championship."