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

Duco dig deep to get Joseph Parker fight at home

Joseph Parker v Carlos Takam. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Joseph Parker v Carlos Takam. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

We are unlikely to ever know the financial risk that Joseph Parker's promoters are entering into as they commit to holding his world heavyweight title fight against Andy Ruiz Jr in Auckland next month.

It will depend on the deals they have stitched up in the days before and after their decision to withdraw their application for government assistance, but it's likely to be considerable given the short timeframe they have to promote the December 10 fight.

The fact that they have yet to officially announce the venue or even the city shortens the promotion time further - and at this stage every day counts.

It was Ruiz's promoter Bob Arum who yesterday let the cat out of the bag, saying Parker and his man would front a press conference in Las Vegas on Saturday to officially announce the details, including Auckland as the venue. Vector Arena is looming as the favourite. For now Duco are remaining silent, but if the experienced Arum has called it as a done deal, that's what it is.

The financials are only part of the equation, though. As soon as the WBO sanctioned this fight, 24-year-old Las Vegas-based Parker and his trainer and mentor Kevin Barry were working on the assumption it would be held in Auckland, and it would have taken a financial catastrophe for them to give away home advantage. As the No1-ranked contender with the WBO, compared with Ruiz Jr's No3 ranking, it's right that Parker should have first option of fighting in his backyard, rather than Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Dallas, just some of the alternatives mentioned recently by Duco.

Let's not underestimate the power that Parker and Barry hold here, either. The South Aucklander, who turned professional only four years ago, is the one risking his health by getting in the ring, so it's only fair that his promoters wear a risk of their own. Dean Lonergan and David Higgins pay the bills, but the increasingly formidable partnership of Parker and Barry would have made a compelling case to hold the fight in Auckland.

Home advantage for any fight is important; for a world title fight it is gold. The three judges and referee will be neutrals appointed by the WBO, but they will be human and potentially susceptible to the crowd's excitement should Parker land anything resembling a solid punch.

Should the fight go all 12 rounds, and that's entirely possible given the toughness of the undefeated Ruiz, then that "persuasion" from the crowd could be crucial in a decision.

And that's without going into the lift the crowd support will provide Parker while simultaneously weighing on Ruiz, and the fact that the Mexican-American has fought outside Mexico or the USA only twice in 29 bouts - both times in the Chinese resort territory of Macao.

Parker is already familiar with the hotel he stays in while in Auckland, his gym, the route for his morning runs. Ruiz will be treated well during his time here but he clearly is at a disadvantage as soon as he gets on the plane.

This will probably be Parker's last fight of this magnitude in Auckland. Bigger paydays await him and Duco in Las Vegas and London. Realistically, there was only one place it could be held - now it's up to Aucklanders and fans to support it.

- NZ Herald

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