1. Dec, 2016

Joseph Parker's Andy Ruiz fight makes sense - and he'll beat him

Author Duncan Johnstone / www.stuff.co.nz

OPINION: Joseph Parker has the game and attitude to beat Mexican heavyweight Andy Ruiz if their world title fight eventuates.

The sudden change of route by Parker's handlers to send their fighter down a path towards the WBO belt is a clever and calculated move.

It's a rapidly changing environment at the top of the heavyweight division and one Parker must maximise.

Strong home support is just one of the advantages heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker would take into a world title fight ...
PHOTOSPORT
Strong home support is just one of the advantages heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker would take into a world title fight against Mexican Andy Ruiz in New Zealand.

If, as expected, the WBO belt is stripped from champion Tyson Fury, then that title is an obvious target.

READ MORE:
* Parker's handlers ramp up world title talk
* Parker wants title fight in NZ
* How it happened: Joseph Parker's dominating victory
* Global praise for 'ferocious' Parker

Avoiding champion quality in the shape of the chiselled Anthony Joshua and vastly experienced Wladimir Klitschko for now will do Parker no harm.


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Stuff.co.nz
What next for Joseph Parker after his demolition of Alexander Dimitrenko?

Particularly if a belt is there for the taking against Ruiz who is ranked NO 3 at the WBO, two places below Parker.

Rankings with the four main organisations can be manipulated in a sport heavy on politics.

For an independent view of where the various champions and contenders sit, check out the ratings of the respected Boxrec outfit – Klitschko is No 2 behind troubled and inactive Tyson Fury, Joshua is at No 4, Parker at No 8 and Ruiz is down the list at No 23.

Mexico's Andy Ruiz (right) makes sense as an opponent for Joseph Parker's world title hopes.
REUTERS
Mexico's Andy Ruiz (right) makes sense as an opponent for Joseph Parker's world title hopes.

Expect Parker to get a bit of a bump after his impressive three round demolition of giant Russian Alexander Dimitrenko last weekend.

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Rankings are just numbers when it comes to fighters getting into the ring against each other, but clearly those in the know see a bit of a class difference between Parker and Ruiz.

That will include Parker's cunning match-maker Stuart Duncan who has cleverly helped guide Parker into a position of strength in just three and half years in the glamour division. He has quietly put sterner tests in front of Parker, each having a risk a factor to them but with the risks still calculated in Parker's favour. Trainer Kevin Barry has ensured his young student has studied enough to carry out each increasingly difficult assignment.

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Parker’s promoter Dean Lonergan says a fight for the WBO title against Mexican Andy Ruiz is looking very likely.

None would come tougher than Ruiz, but he's nowhere near as tough as the alternatives right now.

The big carrot in this u-turn by Duco Events is to get a world heavyweight title fight in New Zealand. It would be historic, lucrative and, importantly, give Parker a massive home advantage as his profile and support base here explodes.

Secure the WBO belt and bigger and even more lucrative scenarios loom in unification scenarios.

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker knocks down Russia's Alexander Dimitrenko. Burger King Road to the Title by ...
Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker knocks down Russia's Alexander Dimitrenko. Burger King Road to the Title by Duco Boxing. Auckland, New Zealand. Saturday 1 October 2016. ? Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

But that's thinking too far into the future.

Right now the very large frame of Ruiz is in Parker's headlights.

This is a guy who has carried puppy-fat all his life, a fighter even labelled "a slob" at one stage by his veteran promoter Bob Arum.

But looks can be deceptive as Parker found out when he sparred with Ruiz in Las Vegas when he was making his first tour of duty in the gambling capital under Barry. A young Parker got schooled by Ruiz during both of their first two sparring sessions. Despondent but determined, he went away, learned his lessons and returned to dominate Ruiz on their third time in the training ring.

That was more than three years ago and Parker has advanced rapidly since then, enough to give him the confidence that he's a a far better fighter now and, probably, a far better one than Ruiz.

Ruiz is noted for his fast hands but Parker has developed a reputation as having arguably the fastest hands in the division. If this is a gunslinger's fight, then you'd bet on Parker drawing his "dukes" out first.

Parker, importantly, packs power with that speed. A look at their knockout percentages in the two fighters who both own unbeaten professional records shows a handy advantage to Parker – 86% to 66%.

Ruiz has more experience with 29 fights to Parker's 21 but the Mexican's opponents are hardly a who's who of the division and Parker can argue he's fought better fighters.

In an environment dominated by increasingly tall men, Ruiz offers Parker some respite. The Kiwi edges the Mexican by 5cm in both height and reach – a useful advantage for a boxer with a relentless jab like Parker.

And forget the hand speed for the moment, Parker's foot speed and constant improvements with head and body movement would add to his confidence against the rugged Ruiz.

Then there's the question of temperament and attitude. Advantage Parker.

The Kiwi is so cruisy outside the ring he defies his deadly demeanour once he squeezes between the ropes into the executioner's square.

He's a relentless trainer in the gym and dedicated to his diet as he looks to evolve his young body into the dynamic shapes that now dominate the division.

And attitude-wise, he's never shirked a challenge.

Ruiz, meanwhile, has constantly battled his weight issues and more than once pulled out of fights, bemusing those around him who have described him at time as "his own worst enemy".

There are signs that Ruiz has been changing his ways and the prospect of a world title fight would surely motivate him.

But he will need all the motivation he can muster to better the increasingly confident and competent Parker.