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

Andy Ruiz Jr favourite for win over Joseph Parker, says Kevin Barry

Joseph Parker's trainer Kevin Barry says Andy Ruiz Jr must be considered the favourite to beat his man and claim the WBO world heavyweight title in Auckland in a fortnight. Photo / Twitter.
Joseph Parker's trainer Kevin Barry says Andy Ruiz Jr must be considered the favourite to beat his man and claim the WBO world heavyweight title in Auckland in a fortnight. Photo / Twitter.

Joseph Parker's trainer Kevin Barry says Andy Ruiz Jr must be considered the favourite to beat his man and claim the WBO world heavyweight title in Auckland in a fortnight.

In a statement perhaps designed to focus Parker's mind now that the Kiwi pair have arrived in the city from their Las Vegas base, Barry said Ruiz had the experience, skills, hunger and toughness to beat the 24-year-old New Zealander at Vector Arena on December 10.

"He is the favourite to win this fight, there is no doubt in my mind about that," Barry said this morning.

"Andy is a fighter with terrific hand speed... we all know about the hand speed of Joseph Parker, well let me tell you this - I believe that Andy Ruiz punches faster than Joe."

Barry knows first-hand about Ruiz's attributes. He was close to working with him before Duco Events approached him about working with Parker instead, and he has spoken several times about the Mexican's toughness.

Ruiz Jr is undefeated in 29 professional fights and has never been dropped, let alone badly hurt.

"I thought this guy is destined to become a world champion, I was so impressed with him," Barry said. "Not only did he have great hand speed, but he was so friggin' tough. I saw him hit flush on the chin and just walk through it."

The man who hit him was Elijah McCall, son of heavyweight champion Oliver. Elijah lost by TKO to Ruiz Jr in 2012, and the fight has stayed lodged in the memory of Barry, who was ringside.

And yet, Barry also believes the pressure is all on Ruiz Jr, a 27-year-old about to step into the spotlight for the first time.

Ruiz Jr will arrive in Auckland next Monday, only five days before the fight, along with his trainer the legendary Abel Sanchez, a man who has trained 16 world champions.

"There is a lot of pressure on Andy to become Abel's 17th world champion," Barry said, adding that the potential for Ruiz Jr to become Mexico's first heavyweight champion would add a pressure of its own.

"This fight for us is the end of a four-year apprenticeship," Barry said of Parker. "Joe has developed, progressed, he's got bigger, he's got better, his skills have improved, he's collected belts - I think we've collected eight over the last three and a half years. Everything has prepared us for this moment.

"But let's remember this young man has been a professional for four years... Andy Ruiz is an eight-year professional. He has never been hurt, never been beaten, never been down. Andy Ruiz is a guy we have huge respect for... a fighter who brings more pressure than anyone we've seen in Joe's career.

"Neither of these guys know what it's like to lose. You've got two guys with very fast hands; two young guys... who both like to come forward. When you have two guys coming forward there's an explosion in the middle."

Barry said he felt the fight would probably go the full 12 rounds.

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