PHOTO: The Toronto Sun
ON Saturday night in his adopted Canada, 51-year-old Donovan “Razor” Ruddock fought for the first time in over 14 years – and won. Surprising everyone with his decision to return to the ring at the age of 51, Ruddock – who fought memorable battles with the likes of Mike Tyson (twice), Tommy Morrison, and Lennox Lewis in the 1990s – stopped 44-year-old Raymond Olubowale via 5th-round TKO in Toronto.
But in improving his record to 39-5-1 (30), Ruddock, who had weighed-in at a reasonable 238lbs, did not have things his own way. Ruddock came out bouncing around on his toes pretty well in the first round, appearing somewhat dwarfed by the huge, 6’7,” 265-pound Olubowale. And the former top contender had to take a number of shots throughout the fight. Hit to the body in the second and third rounds, Razor, who stood up and neglected a stool between rounds, was hurt and downed in the fourth. Caught by three right hands to the head, Razor went down, and even though he appeared to have been almost bundled over, Ruddock was flat on his back and for a time it seemed he would not get up. He did beat the count, however, just before the bell rang, possibly saving him.
Ruddock came back to return the favour in the fifth, putting Olubowale down with his once feared left uppercut. This punch still carries some force and now it was Olubowale who was flat on his back. The stoppage the punch led to – at the one-minute mark of the fifth – was a premature one according to Olubowale, who had beaten the count, but the younger man’s legs looked to have gone.
After the fight, both fighters spoke to The Toronto Sun:
“That was my fight,” the 10-7-1 (7) Olubowale said, annoyed over what he insisted was an early stoppage. “He [referee Mark Simmons] stopped it way too early. My God. This is more than frustrating. That was such a horrific call, a horrific stoppage. He’s [Ruddock] swinging for the fences, he’s desperate. So he caught me – so I wobbled, so I dropped. I dropped him. I thought the fight was done. He was already outclassed.”
For his part, Ruddock admitted to being rusty, yet he said he was sure his power would tell in the end.
“I didn’t think I’d get the decision if I didn’t knock him out,” the winner said. “He was determined to beat me. He tried to kill me (laughs). I had a lot of confidence in my power. But he hit me pretty good. He’s a strong guy.”
In an interview with Boxing News earlier this month, Ruddock said his plan was to win the first fight in his comeback and then go for the Canadian title. He looked happy enough to have scored a victory on Saturday, beaming and jumping around with both arms raised in triumph as he was. And, to be fair, Ruddock could have picked a far easier opponent than the huge Olubowale for his first fight back since 2001.
As alarming as it is seeing a man of 51-years-old take heavy-handed punches, Ruddock seems set to continue with his unlikely return; one he hopes will take him all the way to the world title.