Former two-time heavyweight titlist John Ruiz, who retired after being stopped in the ninth round challenging then-titleholder David Haye in 2010, is back in boxing -- as a promoter.
Ruiz announced that he is “New England’s newest combat sport promoter” after purchasing an outfit called the American Fighting Organization, which Ruiz said will promote mixed martial arts and boxing events.
"We are going to put on the best shows in New England," said Ruiz, who is from Chelsea, Mass. “I'm investing a lot of money to promote events and fighters, in addition to putting on great MMA and boxing shows for fans.”
Ruiz said when he bought the AFO he also took over its debt, which he said has been paid off.
“I'd been talking about promoting and this opportunity came out of nowhere,” he said. “AFO was structured as one of the oldest MMA promotional companies in New England. It was also in place and that was better for us than starting out from scratch. AFO's reputation within the industry may not have been the best but we've paid off its debts and are now prepared to make the new AFO the best combat sports promotional company in New England.
“Fighters are fighters. At my gym [Quietman Sports Gym in Medford, Mass.] we teach MMA and boxing. It has a nice ring and cage, too. Since I retired as a boxer, I've always felt like I would get into promoting boxing, and AFO will be boxing and MMA. I want to bring more class to both sports.”
Ruiz became the first Latino heavyweight titleholder in 2001 when he outpointed Evander Holyfield in a rematch. He made two successful defenses -- a draw in a third fight with Holyfield and a disqualification victory against Kirk Johnson -- before being dominated by Roy Jones in a lopsided decision loss in 2003. Ruiz regained the belt later in 2003 (after Jones vacated) and made three defenses before losing it via decision to Nikolai Valuev in 2005.