The way John Ruiz keeps resurrecting himself from the heavyweight graveyard, his next opponent might want to smuggle a crucifix and a wooden stake into the corner.
He's only 37, but Ruiz has been around so long that you get the impression he's older than the dirt from his homeland that's sprinkled on his casket ... er ... bed at training camp.
A pro since 1992, he's twice claimed the World Boxing Association championship while holding the unofficial record for being on the losing end of more alphabet title fights than any heavyweight in history.
Now, thanks to the WBA's infinite idiocy, Ruiz will get an opportunity to go for the trifecta before the end of this year.
Last week, boxing's oldest sanctioning body decreed that Ruiz (43-8-1, 29 KOs) has been installed as the mandatory challenger for the victor in this summer's title rematch between reigning champ Nikolai Valuev and "champion in recess" Ruslan Chagaev.
The ruling stems from a protest filed by Team Ruiz after the Puerto Rican puncher lost a split decision to Valuev last August in Berlin.
The protest claimed that Valuev's corner had access to a live Russian television feed during the bout and knew the scoring after each round, which gave him an "unfair advantage."
While the WBA's ruling is stupid on many levels, what really makes it laughable is that they're punishing Valuev (and Chagaev, for that matter) for utilizing a strategy that's been around for decades. Indeed, it was none other than the inimitable Angelo Dundee who first hit on the idea of having someone in the dressing room monitor the live TV scoring and relay it to ringside in order to keep Muhammad Ali apprised of the judging in his 1977 title defence against Earnie Shavers.
The fact that the rival World Boxing Council has enthusiastically embraced open judging (having the scores announced after the fourth and eighth rounds) for championship bouts only underscores the WBA's asinine logic. And considering that Ruiz has already lost to Valuev (twice) and Chagaev (once), it appears the only impetus for this ruling is to foist yet another title appearance by the vampiric "Quiet Man" on fight fans who wish he would just vanish in a puff of smoke.
Speaking of unwelcome heavyweight comebacks, ex-WBO titleholder Lamon Brewster (34-4, 30 KOs) returns to action tomorrow against former British champ Michael Sprott (31-12, 16 KOs) in the co-main event to the IBF middleweight title tilt between Arthur Abraham and Lajuan Simon in Kiel, Germany.
The 35-year-old Brewster, whose lone claim to fame is a KO of Wladimir Klitschko five years ago, hasn't fought since knocking out journeyman Danny Batchelder last August.
He's confident his new management deal with German promoters will fast-track his chances for a third fight with Klitschko, who currently owns the WBO and IBF title belts.
Klitschko won their rematch in 2007 after Brewster returned from a 15-month layoff to heal a detached retina.
"I spent six of those months laying face down before I fought him; I was at the point where I couldn't even hold my child," Brewster said at a media conference in Kiel this week. "I wasn't right, but I did the best I could. Because I knocked him out in our first fight, I thought I had a chance. But there was just too much rust.
"Now I'm taking on all comers, and I'll knock out whoever steps in the ring with me. Anybody with a world title who isn't scared to fight me, come get it."
The sad reality is that a year from now we could be talking about John Ruiz vs. Lamon Brewster for the WBA title.