Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Joseph Parker's promoters 95% sure title fight against Andy Ruiz will be in Auckland

If successful, the bout between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz would be one of the biggest sporting occasions in Auckland. Photos / Photosport, Getty Images
If successful, the bout between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz would be one of the biggest sporting occasions in Auckland. Photos / Photosport, Getty Images

Joseph Parker's promoters say they are 95 per cent through negotiations for holding a world heavyweight boxing title fight in Auckland against Andy Ruiz Junior on December 10.

If they are successful, the bout would be one of the biggest sporting occasions in the city, would be watched by millions of viewers around the world, and would earn 24-year-old Parker a potentially massive payday.

Duco's Dean Lonergan spoke to Bob Arum, Ruiz Jr's promoter, on Saturday, several hours before Parker's stunning, if slightly controversial, victory over Alexander Dimitrenko in Manukau which suggested the Kiwi deserves to be considered one of the top heavyweights in the world today.

The conversation was a good one. Lonergan said of his dealings with Top Rank promoter Arum: "We settled on the fight being held in New Zealand. We settled on a date which is December 10, and we're within cooee of settling on the money.

We weren't too far apart.

"We have a lot of work to do but I would say right now that we are 95 per cent sure the fight will be held right here in New Zealand and more than likely Auckland given it's the biggest market."

Lonergan told the Herald that Eden Park, North Harbour Stadium and Mt Smart were outdoor options for the fight, with the downtown Vector Arena the indoor option.

Apart from money, the fight is also contingent on WBO and WBA champion Tyson Fury being stripped of his belts, which appears only a formality. Apart from his mental health issues which he said forced him to pull out of his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, Fury has also allegedly tested positive for cocaine.

But above all, the WBO and WBA rules are clear, said Lonergan. "If the champion is inactive for more than nine months they can automatically strip him. It's been 11 months for Fury and there's no indication of when he'll be back in the ring."

For Parker, the news only gets better as he prepares to go to a new level. While Dimitrenko rolled in apparent agony on the canvas and complained about a Parker body shot thrown while his 2.01m opponent had taken a knee, he was clearly outclassed and the protests will almost certainly fall on deaf ears.

Hitting Dimitrenko with power shots with both hands almost at will before the third-round KO, it was the performance Parker and his handlers have been waiting for, one which trainer Kevin Barry said was easily his best in a year.

WBO Australia representative Danny Leigh told the Herald: "I watched the fight live and on a replay and it looked to me as if Dimitrenko copped a flogging and was looking for a way out. I don't think he fooled [referee] Marlon [Wright] in any way.

"In that regard I don't see it as a controversy. If the fight had been a competitive fight ... but it wasn't like that. The guy was rolling around like he was [a footballer] in a penalty box trying to get a penalty."

A Parker v Ruiz Jr world title fight would likely be watched in more than 100 countries, said Lonergan.

"It would be a sporting broadcast close to being unprecedented in New Zealand sporting history," he said.

The fight would delay Parker's mandatory challenge against Anthony Joshua, with Lonergan happy to leave Joshua's promoters to deal with Wladimir Klitschko.

"I spoke to Eddie Hearn last night and it would seem the most likely outcome is Klitschko v Joshua. But, as has been reported, it takes time to get those deals done and Eddie has to deal with the gargantuan egos of Klitschko and [manager] Bernd Boente, which can't make it easy."

- NZ Herald

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