David Haye's first defence of his World Boxing Association heavyweight title was confirmed yesterday when it was announced that he would meet rugged veteran John Ruiz at the MEN Arena, Manchester, on 3 April in what will be the first world heavyweight title fight held in Britain since 2000.
Ruiz ticks every box on the "perfect first defence" checklist, and will arrive in the ring having not been stopped in 12 heavyweight title fights going back to 2000, including five wins, five defeats, a draw and a no-contest from 2005 against James Toney.
"Ruiz is the most experienced contender out there, he is officially the toughest heavyweight at the moment," Haye said. "I'm required to fight Ruiz and after I've stopped him I will move on – it will be a great night in what has become the home of boxing in Britain.
Haye promised: "I'm looking forward to getting back to what I do best. I will not only beat him but beat him spectacularly and knock him out. Ruiz is a come-forward fighter so I aim to get at him, break him down, and take him out in good style."
During the last decade world heavyweight title fights have taken place in Tokyo and Berne, and just about every German city, but Haye's homecoming will be the first in Britain since Lennox Lewis retained three of his belts in July 2000 against South Africa's Frans Botha at the London Arena. Botha went in two; a Haye win in that round would be spectacular.