Andy Ruiz Junior's promoter Bob Arum says the deal to fight Joseph Parker in New Zealand is all but done, but would prefer it to be held in January rather than December.
Arum, the chief executive of Top Rank, told Radio Live today that Ruiz Jr's trainer Abel Sanchez would be busy with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin on the December 10 date preferred by Parker's handlers Duco Events. Dean Lonergan said today the dates remained up for discussion.
But Arum said once it did happen Ruiz Jr would shock Parker with his hand speed, saying the New Zealander was a comparatively slow heavyweight, despite the 24-year-old being regarded here as one of the quickest in the division.
"It's gonna take place," Arum said of the fight. "I've talked with Dean Lonergan - we're a little apart on the money, but we're going to close that gap and make a deal, I'm sure. The WBO, everybody's agreed, will sign completely neutral officials. Andy is quite happy to fight in New Zealand, that's not a problem."
Arum added: "Hopefully we'll have an announcement shortly."
He is also optimistic the WBO will make the heavyweight title available following Tyson Fury's well-publicised issues.
Arum and Lonergan will both be at an upcoming WBO convention in Puerto Rico and both expect a good result for their men.
"I'm very very optimistic the result will be all boats ahead and ready to go," Arum said. "It makes sense - Parker and Ruiz are two top contenders and the WBO will have a great champion."
As an experienced promoter, Arum has sway with the WBO. The fact that Top Rank have six WBO world champions won't hurt either, so the chances are that Parker's next fight will be the biggest to be held in New Zealand, and probably Auckland.
The American said he was looking forward to visiting New Zealand.
"I believe boxing is a great global sport. I've never had the opportunity to participate in an event in New Zealand. I'm looking forward to it. It's a great country, great people, great athletic tradition. New Zealand rugby is famous all over the world and so I'm looking forward to visiting."
Parker and Ruiz have sparred together, with the Kiwi getting the better of the Mexican-American in their last two meetings. However, Arum is under the impression that Ruiz Jr is far quicker, a comment which will be met by surprise by most boxing aficionados.
"Parker is a very strong kid," Arum said. "He's a good puncher with a nice strong chin, so he's very dangerous. He's a real top level heavyweight, but he is slow, he isn't a fast heavyweight, and Andy, who looks slow, is really a very, very fast heavyweight. He probably has the quickest hands in the division. He hits well and will give a good account of himself.
"Whichever way it goes, and it could go either way, it will be an exciting contest."