Razor Ruddock: Can 51 year old emulate George Foreman and become a heavyweight force?Written by Leroy Cleveland
Looking for his third consecutive win on his comeback, 51 year old 1990s heavyweight contender Razor Ruddock (40-5-1, 30 KO) will fight on a relatively high profile card next month.
Razor will face Dillon Carman (8-2) on September 11 in Toronto. At stake will be Canada's heavyweight title.
Ruddock, of course, earned the "Razor" nickname early on for his slicing jab but was better known for his powerful left hook/uppercut, which he called "The Smash."
It was the same punch that put Michael Dokes to sleep for several minutes, crushed the 'Bonecrusher' and rocked Mike Tyson on numerous occasions. Razor Ruddock's 'Smash'was arguably one of the most devastating weapons in the entire history of heavyweight boxing.
In his first bout since in 14 years, the former 1990s elite heavyweight contender TKO'd Raymond Olubowale (10-7-1, 7 KOs) in March and added a decision win over another fringe opponent in May.
Now Razor, who will be fighting for the third time in five months, appears to have the backing of an unlikely supporter as former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who TKO'd Razor in their 1992 WBC heavyweight eliminator, will be at ringside as a co-promoter when Ruddock vies for the Canadian heavyweight title.
Has Razor made Lennox a believer? And will he make believers of us all?
"If you take care of your body, train and stay in physical condition, it has nothing to do with age," Ruddock said Wednesday at a news conference announcing the fight card.
"That's what I want to prove, and it will be very, very sad if in fact it turns out that I'm wrong. The alternative is just not acceptable."'
Prior to the 1970s, a fighter in his 30s was often viewed as boxer on the decline. And anyone older than 35 was labeled 'ancient.' Even as late as 1990, critics labeled the January PPV superfight between George Foreman, 41, and his 33 year old opponent, Gerry Cooney, "The Geezers at Caesars."
Nowadays, there aren't many vocations where a 33 year old can be widely accepted a "geezer."
Perhaps gymnastics is one of the few?
Is 40 the new 30?
And in Ruddock's case, is 51 the new 31?
Thanks to enhancements in training and nutrition as well as a few more open minds, today's professional boxers are able to thrive at ages that were once unimaginable. Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko anyone?
So, can Razor Ruddock make waves in heavyweight boxing?
Answer: He has a long way to go.
At 51 and following a 14 year hiatus, Ruddock, in March, probably looked as good as to be expected. That stated, he was a far cry from the 1990s version of himself and needs a lot of work. Razor was badly hurt in Round 4 as a combination by a fringe opponent sent him staggering across the ring. Luckily for the former heavyweight powerbroker, it happened near the round's conclusion and he was able to weather the storm.
The power, or at least some remnant of it, is still part of Ruddock's repertoire. However, his conditioning, footwork, sense of range, timing and defense leave a lot to be desired.
The Doctor's Prescription: Forget the over-the-counter stuff, Razor needs a heavy dose of strong improvement - and fast.
For the next several years, he'll need to eat, drink and breathe boxing.
In order for Ruddock to be a contender again, he'll also need to face a compromised opponent at least once every 4-6 weeks for awhile and then slowly start raising his game, and level of competition.
If Razor, now 2-0 on his comeback, can enter 2016 with a 6-0 record since his return, he might be ready for the likes of Shannon Briggs, Michael Grant or Darnell Wilson. And if Razor Ruddock can defeat a fighter on that level, he could get a fight with a fringe contender like Johnathon Banks or Amir Mansour, which could propel him into a high-profile scrap if he's victorious.
Foreman and Ruddock: Comparison
On his comeback in the late eighties and early nineties, George Foreman, who would launch perhaps the greatest comeback in sports history, had 19 or 20 bouts prior to facing Gerry Cooney, a real and legitimate top-flight heavyweight contender. Moreover, Foreman launched his comeback at 38 and didn't fight Holyfield for the title until four years later.
Big George, unlike Razor Ruddock, was also an Olympic world champion and was a bit more polished than Razor. And in addition to being much younger than Razor in their respective comebacks, George had size, punching power and a deeper amateur and pro pedigree in his favor.
Simply put, Foreman was a decisively better fighter.
Based on how Ruddock has looked, he'll need upwards of 20 fights to get his timing back and work himself into the elite-level shape required in order to engage in a high-profile showdown.
But at 51, does Razor have 20 fights left in him?