Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
Save a chair, folks. John Ruiz is sidling back to the heavyweight title table.
Already a veteran of 10 championship bouts and one of history's select few with multiple bites of the division's fractured pie -- the "Quiet Man" will meet his verbal converse when he shares a ring with newly minted WBA belt- holder David Haye sometime between now and mid-2010.
Date and site logistics are unclear, but a contract is in place for the fight to occur before the end of May, according to Ruiz's manager Anthony Cardinale.
"The fight with Haye was negotiated and closed before the bouts (in Germany)," Cardinale said. "It is a done deal. Otherwise we would not have agreed to step aside. There will be no further negotiations necessary."
Haye earned his first title as a heavyweight with a majority decision over Nikolai Valuev on Nov. 7 in Nuremberg, where Ruiz toppled European journeyman Adnan Serin in seven rounds on the undercard.
As the WBA's official challenger, Ruiz had been in line for a third match with Valuev, but agreed to defer to Haye in exchange for first dibs if the brash Londoner dethroned the towering 7-footer.
Haye won two scorecards by 116-112 margins and was even -- 114-114 -- on the third.
The Serin fight was Ruiz's first since a split-decision loss to Valuev, nearly 15 months ago in Berlin.
His last win had come in March 2008, via 12-round decision over Jameel McCline.
"John is glad the way things worked out," Cardinale said. "It will be a much more interesting fight for him versus Haye than a third Valuev bout. It is difficult to look good against Valuev, but I also believe that John looked better and scored considerably more than Haye did in the two fights he had against the giant."
Valuev also beat Ruiz by majority decision in December 2005, also in Germany.
However, Cardinale insisted his man has significant support in Europe, which he said provides several options toward an eventual site for the Haye fight.
"There is no venue set for the bout, so it can take place anywhere that makes the most economic sense," he said. "Of course fighting in Las Vegas would be great, but John is 6-0 in London, so we would gladly go there. Germany is also not out of the question, as John has a good fan base coming off his highly controversial losses to Valuev. Most there believe he was screwed in both."
The latter conclusion is not unique in Ruiz's career.
Unbeaten in 14 fights after turning pro in 1992, his first loss came via split decision to then-unbeaten Russian Sergei Kobozev in August 1993.
John Ruiz is in line for a title shot against WBA champion David Hale.
Another split verdict -- against Danell Nicholson a year later -- was the only other blemish before a memorable 19-second blowout at the hands of David Tua in March 1996 in Atlantic City.
Ruiz regrouped with 11 straight wins, 10 by KO, before a unanimous scorecard loss to Evander Holyfield in the first of their three bouts -- a series which continued with Ruiz winning the WBA title by unanimous decision and then defending it with a draw against Holyfield by the end of 2001.
A successful defense against Kirk Johnson preceded another memorable low point, Ruiz's one-sided loss to a blown-up Roy Jones Jr. in March 2003, in which Jones weighed just 193 pounds to Ruiz's 226 and became the first light heavyweight champion since Michael Spinks to claim a heavyweight belt.
He returned to reclaim the title when Jones went back to 175 pounds and downed Fres Oquendo and Andrew Golota in succession before losing to James Toney at Madison Square Garden, a verdict that was reversed when Toney tested positive for a banned substance.
The reign ended again eight months later when he met Valuev for the first time.
He's 3-2 in five outings since, defeating Otis Tisdale, McCline and Serin, while dropping the second close nod to Valuev and a split decision to Ruslan Chagaev, one fight before the Uzbek beat Valuev.
"Look at the records of the last 20 fights John has had versus (Haye's record) regarding experience, for example, and remember other than the time he was caught dead cold and not warmed up properly by his trainers before the bout," Cardinale said, "the then-beast Tua is the only one to ever stop John."
"If you also look at John's other losses over his career, other than the Jones fight -- which he lost mentally before the bout because of massive domestic problems then ongoing -- you will note they were all split decisions in the other fighter's home ring. So if I were Haye and his people I would not take John lightly. Haye is literally in the fight of his life when they meet."
A 6-foot-2 right-hander, Ruiz weighed 227 pounds in beating Serin, his lightest since the Jones loss and reminiscent to Cardinale of his 224-pound form at the start of the Holyfield trilogy.
Haye, who stands an inch taller at 6-3, weighed a career-high 217 against Valuev after tipping in at 215 for a defeat of Monte Barrett in his divisional debut a year earlier.
He was beaten in a bid for the IBO cruiserweight title in 2004, before coming back three years later to wrest the WBA/WBC crowns from Jean Marc Mormeck by seventh-round TKO.
He added the WBO belt to his collection with a two-round blitz of Enzo Maccarinelli in March 2008, then announced his intention to campaign as a full-time heavyweight.
"While much will have to be done to change what (Ruiz) was planning to do against Valuev if Haye got screwed, John and (trainers) Miguel Diaz and Richie Sandoval, are confident that they will have an effective game plan and winning strategy," Cardinale said.
"It will be action- packed and all in all a much more entertaining fight on both fighters' parts than if Valuev was the opponent. All in all, John plans to negate whatever speed difference there may be with pressure."
As for the third title reign the team anticipates -- no time limits are in place.
"(Against Serin, he) was in probably the best physical form since he fought Holyfield the first time in 2001," Cardinale said. "Since we have gotten rid of Don King as his promoter and changed trainers, his mind is focused on his career more than I have ever seen. This is John's opportunity to win the title back and proceed in a fashion that helps him and not Don King."
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This week's title-fight schedule:
Vacant IBF flyweight title - Johannesburg, South Africa
Julio Cesar Miranda (No. 2 contender) vs. Moruti Mthalane (No. 3 contender) Miranda (30-4-1, 23 KO): First title fight; Lost only fight outside of Mexico Mthalane (23-2, 16 KO): Second title fight; Stopped in IBF/IBO title try in 2008 Fitzbitz says: Miranda by decision
WBA super middleweight title - Oakland, Calif.
Mikkel Kessler (champion) vs. Andre Ward (No. 6 contender) Kessler (42-1, 32 KO): Third defense of second reign; Held WBA title from 2004-07 Ward (20-0, 13 KO): First title fight; Second fight in Oakland (1-0, 0 KO) Fitzbitz says: Ward by decision
IBF featherweight title - Tijuana, Mexico
Cristobal Cruz (champion) vs. Ricardo Castillo (No. 15 contender) Cruz (39-11-1, 23 KO): Third title defense; Unbeaten since May 2007 (5-0, 1 KO) Castillo (38-7, 25 KO): Losses in three previous title fights; Unbeaten in 2009 (3-0, 1 KO) Fitzbitz says: Cruz by decision
WBA light flyweight title - Merida, Mexico
Giovanni Segura (champion) vs. Sonny Boy Jaro (No. 13 contender) Segura (21-1-1, 17 KO): First title defense; Unbeaten in Mexico (2-0, 2 KO) Jaro (30-7-5, 19 KO): Lost decision in WBC title fight in 2008; Lost only fight in Mexico Fitzbitz says: Segura by decision
WBC light flyweight title - Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico
Edgar Sosa (champion) vs. Rodel Mayol (No. 7 contender) Sosa (37-5, 21 KO): Eleventh title defense (10-0, 7 KO); Four-fight stoppage streak Mayol (25-4-1, 19 KO): Winless in four title fights (0-3-1); Winless since August 2008 (0-1-1) Fitzbitz says: Sosa by decision
WBC cruiserweight title - Kiel, Germany
Giacobbe Fragomeni (champion) vs. Zsolt Erdei (No. 4 contender) Fragomeni (26-1-1, 10 KO): Second title defense; Unbeaten since 2006 (5-0-1, 1 KO) Erdei (30-0, 17 KO): First title fight at 200 pounds; Held WBO belt at 175 from 2004-09 (12-0, 4 KO) Fitzbitz says: Erdei by decision
WBO junior bantamweight title - Rama, Ontario
Marvin Sonsona (champion) vs. Alejandro Hernandez (No. 15 contender) Sonsona (14-0, 12 KO): First title defense; Second fight outside Philippines (1-0, 0 KO) Hernandez (22-7-1, 11 KO): Second title fight; Lost WBO title try at 112 in 2008 Fitzbitz says: Sonsona in 6
Last week's picks: 1-1
Overall picks record: 143-53 (72.9 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.