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

Patrick McKendry: Parker has tools to be champion of the world

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker. Photo / Photosport
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker. Photo / Photosport

When Joseph Parker arrives in Auckland for his WBO world heavyweight title fight against Andy Ruiz Jr, he will almost definitely be in the physical shape of his life.

Under the tutelage of trainer Kevin Barry at their Las Vegas base, his mental condition is likely to be excellent, too.

The same can't necessarily be said of Ruiz Jr, a Mexican based in California who has had his share of ups and downs. That's a major factor, along with home advantage, as to why Parker will be favoured to be the first New Zealand-born boxer in more than 120 years to win a significant heavyweight world title.

Parker, who has a 21-0 record, has fought a better class of opponent than the 29-0 Ruiz Jr. That's a point noted by respected boxing writer Dan Rafael, who wrote: "Parker has beaten two fringe contenders in his last three fights, a unanimous decision against Carlos Takam in May and a stunningly one-sided third-round destruction of Alexander Dimitrenko on October 1.

Ruiz, 27, a Mexico native fighting out of Imperial, California, has a far less impressive resume than Parker.

"He is coming off a lopsided 10-round decision win against journeyman Franklin Lawrence on September 10. Ruiz's most notable victories are a fourth-round knockout of former world title challenger Ray Austin in May and a 10-round decision win against former world titleholder Sergey Liakhovich, but they were both way past their best days."

Ruiz Jr recently pulled out of a fight with Hughie Fury, the cousin of Tyson, due to issues related to his management.

His partnership with trainer Abel Sanchez, who works with champion middleweight Gennady Golovkin, will help. But Parker was primed so well for his knockout of Dimitrenko in Manukau in his last fight, the training camp template has surely be set.

Interestingly, Bob Arum, Ruiz Jr's promoter, is under the impression that his man has far faster hand speed than Parker.

Arum told Rafael: "My [matchmakers] think Andy has a hell of a shot. The kid is pumped because apparently he's sparred with Parker and more than held his own. I've seen some of Parker's fights on YouTube clips. He's a tremendous puncher but he doesn't look to me to be particularly fast."

- NZ Herald

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