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Holyfield, Ruiz Try To Sell Fight

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Evander Holyfield doesn't just believe his upcoming fight with John Ruiz is a legitimate heavyweight title fight. He also believes he should still be the undisputed heavyweight champion.

Never mind that the judges in Holyfield's fight last November with Lennox Lewis decided otherwise.

``Everybody knows I won,'' Holyfield said Thursday. ``The fact is, I was the champion and I was the most aggressive. I'm the one who made that fight.''

The 37-year-old Holyfield isn't about to apologize for taking the June 10 fight with Ruiz that will be for the WBA version of the heavyweight title taken from Lewis for not defending it against the top-ranked challenger.

To Holyfield, it is not only a true heavyweight title fight, but an opportunity to regain what he believes was unfairly taken from him.

``My goal is to be the undisputed heavyweight champion once again,'' Holyfield said prior to a news conference announcing the fight at Caesars Palace.

Both Holyfield and Ruiz used last Saturday's fight between Lewis and Michael Grant to press their point that Ruiz, the No. 1 WBA contender, should have rightfully been given the title shot Grant got against Lewis.

Promoter Don King, of course, couldn't resist adding his own verbal jabs about a fight that lasted less than two rounds.

``I guarantee you this fight will be a better world championship fight than Lewis and Grant,'' King said. ``That fight was a farce.''

Ruiz, a fringe heavyweight despite his ranking, said he considered Holyfield a better fighter than Lewis anyway.

``I think he's a true champion,'' Ruiz said. ``He's not holding belts now, but I think he's the better of them.''

Ruiz (36-3, 27 knockouts) doesn't have much more of a claim to fame than Grant, who was undefeated in 31 fights, but was exposed for his amateurish ways by Lewis.

The Boston-based fighter has faced no serious contenders outside of David Tua, who knocked Ruiz out in the first round in March 1996, although he is riding an 11-fight winning streak since then.

But Ruiz does have the top ranking, and since Holyfield is No. 2, they will meet for the vacated title in the scheduled 12-round bout at Caesars Palace.

``The name alone makes me want to fight Holyfield,'' he said.

Lewis said after beating Grant that whoever won the WBA title would merely have a ``paper title'' and would not be recognized as a legitimate heavyweight champion.

But Norman Stone, Ruiz's manager, noted that Lewis first became heavyweight champion by picking up the WBC belt that Riddick Bowe tossed in a garbage can.

``John is fighting the real heavyweight champion anyway,'' Stone said.
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