Saturday, June 28, 1997 | 11:59 a.m.
Now, Ruddock is watching from outside the ring as Tyson and Evander Holyfield battle for the heavyweight title. The 33-year-old Jamaican has become another faded contender whose personal problems overwhelmed his talent.
Ruddock faces a Sept. 2 trial on charges he forcibly took back a $5,000 diamond ring he gave the mother of his 3-year-old son, Shaka. The child is the center of a custody battle.
"I always thought I could beat Holyfield; I always thought I could beat Tyson, if I had the proper training and not as many distractions," Ruddock says.
Those distractions loom larger than the 6-foot-4 boxer. He made millions fighting, but bankruptcy and failed investments have left him cash poor. A contract dispute ruined a close relationship with his beloved brother, Delroy.
And now the bitter break-up of his four-year relationship with Alexandra Williams, a South Florida woman, has lead to a robbery charge that could land him in jail.
"It's all about money. I never had a problem with anyone until I started making money. Now I have to go to court to defend myself," Ruddock says. "Why is it that I have to be in court every single solitary day?"
Ruddock sits his large frame on a bench outside a Broward County courtroom after a status conference on the case. Even during his boxing days, he rarely would allow such an interview.
Mustachioed and dapper in an ink blue suit, Ruddock is pleasant and talkative, though guarded about his personal life. His main concern is taking care of his three sons and two daughters at his home in Kingston, Jamaica. He often visits South Florida to see his other son, Shaka.
"I am poor, but I am very rich with my kids," Ruddock says. "I don't want my children to grow up wild. I want to give them a chance at the gate."
Williams portrays a very different Ruddock. She told police he harassed her for months and then ripped the ring off her finger Dec. 1 when she went to the fighter's house in suburban Plantation to pick up some of Shaka's clothing.
"He comes to my house, he vandalizes my property, he comes over without permission, he beats me up, or he has beaten me up," she says. "It's got to stop."
Ruddock says he's innocent and that Williams had already returned the ring to him after the two broke up in October 1995.
Ruddock, born in Jamaica but raised in Toronto, has not boxed since June 1995 when he lost to Tommy Morrison. Despite his money problems, there are no plans to return to boxing.
"I really don't miss it because the people really turned me off," Ruddock says. "It put a bitter taste in my mouth. I don't have the love for the sport that I used to have when I was younger."
Those who know Ruddock, though, say he will definitely return to the ring and that he is keeping a low profile until he resolves his problems.
"He is not going to step through the ropes to fight for her and his creditors," says Murad Mohammad, Ruddock's former promoter. "But, you can't tell me he doesn't want to come back."
The only boxing title Ruddock won was the Canadian Heavyweight Championship. Yet, he compiled a 28-5-1 record with 20 knockouts and was in position to challenge for the world heavyweight championship after Tyson was convicted of rape in 1992.
Ruddock earned the "Razor" nickname early on for his cutting jab, but it was a hybrid left uppercut-hook called "The Smash" that opponents feared. His most impressive win may have been a scary fourth-round knockout of Michael Dokes in April 1994 at Madison Square Garden. Dokes lay motionless for minutes.
"It was one of the most outstanding knockouts in boxing history," Mohammad says. "It was that left hook. It was unbelievable. It looked like it was coming straight and it moved under."
The fighter also earned a reputation as being sullen and mean. Former champ Larry Holmes called him "a punk, pure and simple."
Ruddock remains best known for his two bouts in 1991 against Tyson that earned him $10 million.
Tyson had just lost his title to Buster Douglas when he took on Ruddock the first time. The fight became mired in controversy when the referee with alleged ties to Tyson's promoter Don King stopped it in the seventh round and awarded a TKO to Tyson.
Observers disagreed over whether a wobbly Ruddock could have continued.
"I think they did cheat me, I really do," he says. "I know that for a fact they were scared."
After the second fight, it was said it looked like the two boxers fought with tire irons instead of gloves. Tyson broke Ruddock's jaw and won a 12-round decision.
"I went 12 rounds with him with a broken jaw," Ruddock says with a chuckle. "It was tremendous because Tyson, well, he's pretty strong."
When Tyson fell out of the picture while in prison, Ruddock, Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe were the contenders trying to take his place as the dominant heavyweight.
But Ruddock, fighting jet lag, lost to Lewis in London and with it a shot at the heavyweight title and a $25 million paycheck.
"Sometimes you can win something and lose your life," Ruddock says.
He never looks back with regret on the Lewis fight, he says, because it taught him a lot about the people he worked with. One of those people was his older brother by a year, Delroy. The two were inseparable as youngsters.
After the Lewis fight, relations became strained in the Ruddock camp. The boxer left Mohammad and signed with King. He filed for bankruptcy, broke with King and came back to Mohammad.
Ruddock then had a falling out with his brother and Mohammad before the Morrison fight, accusing them of forging his signature on the contract. Mohammad and Delroy Ruddock unsuccessfully sued the boxer and the parties have spoken little since.
"We are not like we used to be, like close," Ruddock says. "It's a shame. Money did that. We grew up very close. I can't imagine it comes down to this."
Much of Ruddock's family now lives in South Florida, including his mother. Delroy Ruddock, a real estate agent in Coral Springs, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
"It is a sad story because Razor, Delroy and I were a family," Mohammad says. "His brother was everything to him. ... He felt he didn't need anybody. After the Morrison fight, I walked over to Razor and said, 'God don't like ugly, and remember family is with you to the day you die.' He's been going downhill ever since."
Where all of Ruddock's money went is hard to fathom. He lost $1 million when his Fort Lauderdale nightclub - Razor's Palace - went belly-up. He says he doesn't even train anymore, though he looks very fit.
Ruddock believes that boxing, despite all the pain it has caused him, has given him strength to get through his troubles.
"I learned a lot," he says. "I couldn't have learned what I learned outside the ring. I couldn't have learned in school what I learned in boxing."