...Less than an hour after he lost to James Toney, by a wide margin, a fight that appeared arguably closer, the two-time World Boxing Association heavyweight champion announced he was finished with a sport he has grown to hate. "I always treated everybody with respect, but they didn't treat me the same way," Ruiz said in his locker room at Madison Square Garden as he announced he was retiring from boxing at the age of 33. "It hurts me to walk away like this. I grew up in boxing. It's sad for me to put it this way, but boxing was the sport I loved.
"Now it's the sport I hate."
The final straw for Ruiz was not the lopsided decision awarded to Toney last night. The last straw came several hours earlier, when he was approached by an inspector from the New York State Athletic Commission who ordered him to shave the beard he has worn through most of his professional career.
Stunned, Ruiz began to protest and his volatile manager, Norman Stone, leaped to his defense and a shouting match ensued. Stone pointed out Ruiz had worn the same beard in the same building with the same officials having jurisdiction six months ago and no one said a word about it.
What had changed?
"It dawned on me they were going to do everything they could to get me out of the sport tonight," Ruiz said. "I knew right then this was the night they were going to take it away from me.
"I think they decided a long time ago they didn't want me in the sport. They never wanted me to beat [Evander] Holyfield. They never thought I'd beat Holyfield. They never thought I'd beat [Hasim] Rahman or [Andrew] Golota or those other guys.
"I did all I could to lift up the sport of boxing. I extended my hand to everybody. I didn't say anything bad about anybody and all they did was say bad about me. I'm a nice guy. They want [expletives] up there. Now they got one. I'm finished. I've been fed up with what goes on in boxing for a while."