Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Prized WBO belt arrives in NZ

It is gold plated and encrusted with Swarovksi crystal and has been described as "priceless" - the WBO heavyweight title belt that Joseph Parker is fighting for has arrived in New Zealand.

Unveiled in Auckland today in a press conference with a security guard on standby, it is the prize that Parker and his Mexican opponent Andy Ruiz Junior are both aiming to win at the Vector Arena on December 10.

Claim it and Parker is on track for some huge paydays, but before it is put on the line, members of the public will over the next few days have an opportunity to see it in person.

In a promotion tour organized by Parker's promoters Duco Events, the belt -engraved with the heavyweight fight details - will be taken from Whangarei to Invercargill and several points in between.

The idea is something that Duco's chief executive Martin Snedden is used to from his time as a key organiser of the 2011 Rugby World Cup here. Parker, however, who is due to arrive from his Las Vegas base this weekend, will not be involved.

Ruiz Junior is due to arrive in Auckland from Los Angeles this Friday or Saturday.

"If you remember back to the build-up of the Rugby World Cup, we took the trophy itself on a tour right through New Zealand," Snedden said. "I remember starting at 6am one day in Bluff in the middle of winter, and ending up in the far North. It gave people the opportunity to connect with the trophy, connect with the tournament and really get themselves ready to have some fun when the tournament took place.

"Something similar was done with the Cricket World Cup last year... again, it's a method of growing awareness and helping people engage with the event, bringing it to life; not just people in Auckland, where the event is happening, but around New Zealand. We're getting to 12 different venues with the belt. You won't see Joseph Parker going anywhere near this belt, in the same way that Richie McCaw refused to touch the Rugby World Cup trophy until the All Blacks had actually won it.

"I think the same will apply for Andy Ruiz."

Snedden said the anticipation among the public was rising, and he was happy with the build-up. Of the 10,000 tickets available for the fight, only 2000 remained.

More than 700 tickets had been re-priced to the more popular $199 and $269 packages, as there was some "resistance" to the higher-priced tickets, he said. However, the $799 tickets were still selling well.

"It's not often an event organiser wants to stand up and say we didn't quite get it right, well the truth is in that area of the ticket [pricing] we didn't get it right and we've adjusted it," Snedden said.

He added: "Inside the [Duco Events] office there is a real hum. There is a definite sense of 'this is our moment in time, in as much as it is for Joseph himself'.

"It's a good position to be in. We know the air of anticipation in the public as we go through the next 19 days before the fight is just going to increase day by day."

WBO heavyweight championship belt tour of New Zealand

• Belt will be displayed for an hour at each venue. Members of public are invited to have their photographs taken with it.

Tuesday, November 22
11am: Burger King - 134 Ward Street, Hamilton
2pm: Burger King - Cameron Road, Tauranga
4pm: Burger King - Fenton Street, Rotorua
Wednesday, Nov 23
11am: Burger King - Heretaunga Street, Hastines
12.30pm: Burger King - Fitzgerald Ave, Palmerston North
3pm: Burger King - Mirimar, Wellington
6pm: Burger King - Nelson
Thursday, Nov 24
12pm: Burger King - Moorhouse Ave, Chch
4pm: Burger King - Elles Road, Invercargill
Friday, Nov 25
12pm: Burger King - Anderson Bay Road, Dunedin
4pm: Burger King - Leach Street, Taranaki
Monday, Nov 28
12pm: Burger King - Western Hills Drive, Whangarei

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