David Haye dismantled John Ruiz to make a successful first defence of his WBA world heavyweight title in a brutal showdown at the MEN Arena. Haye outclassed the limited but courageous Ruiz who refused to take a backwards step until he was rescued by his corner towards the end of the ninth round. The right hand was Haye's most productive shot, which he used to repeatedly stagger the former two-time world champion Ruiz, who was overwhelmed from start to finish before a 20,000 sell-out crowd. It was the dramatic performance the 29-year-old Londoner promised would ignite the ailing heavyweight division and a far cry from the lifeless majority points decision he secured against Nikolai Valuev last November to win the WBA belt.
As expected Haye was too fast and too powerful to be troubled by Ruiz, though future opponents will have noticed his obvious defensive frailties. Haye made a sensational start that saw him knock Ruiz over with a straight right just moments into the opening round. The American took a fearful battering as Haye attempted to finish the fight early, launching big bombs that hurt his opponent. In his eagerness Haye had a point deducted for hitting on the back of the head and Ruiz survived the round, even landing a right of his own on the final bell. By the end of third Ruiz's nose was bleeding heavily after taking several lightening-fast jabs, though Haye was also taking punishment. Haye, who weighed in at a career heaviest 15st 12lbs, landed with two giant shots in the fifth that staggered Ruiz but the challenger refused to cave in.
One more ferocious right hit its mark but Ruiz was only dropped when Haye cuffed him around the back of the head, though a count still ensued. The brave Ruiz was showing remarkable tenacity as he continued to take heavy punishment, while occasionally exposing Haye's vulnerability. Ruiz was saved by the bell in the sixth, his resistance fading amid a barrage of heavy blows. Haye produced a strong eighth round, staggering the indomitable Ruiz with his favoured right hand. Ruiz's corner threw in the towel towards the end of the ninth and the gutsy American was spared any further punishment. * PA Sport