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

Joseph Parker happy for Ruiz Jr to 'walk into a big one'

Styles, as the old boxing saying goes, make fights, and New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker believes Andy Ruiz Jr's relentlessly pressing strategy will play into his hands during their world title bout at Vector Arena a week on Saturday.

Ruiz Jr will give away about 10 centimetres when the pair meet, and added to his height disadvantage is the fact that he has relatively short arms. He has already promised to press Parker, to "suffocate" him with his style, so there will be an opportunity for the south Aucklander to hurt him as he comes in.

"His strengths are coming forward [with] fast hands," Parker said in his first media conference since arriving from his Las Vegas base on Friday. "He's actually a good mover, he moves his head and protects himself well. He's got to work his way in because I'm going to be throwing a lot of jabs. It can work for him if he gets in close but if he walks into a big one then it will be a good night for me."

If Ruiz Jr does get inside, then Parker believes he has the weapons to continue hurting the Mexican. "I'm confident I can fight anyone at any distance. I've practised and trained for whatever he's going to bring so I'm confident about what I can do."

Accompanied by his younger brother, John, a light heavyweight who will fight on the undercard, Parker appeared relaxed as time ticks away to the biggest fight of his career.
His trainer Kevin Barry said yesterday that Parker hasn't had his best camp, but that it was a satisfactory one. For Parker, there has been a bit going on during his preparation, including the birth of his daughter, Elizabeth, who was born three weeks ago. He said he was amazed at how tall she was and that her arrival had added an extra edge for him.

And now that he's at home he appears to be happier - Barry said his training on Saturday was some of the best work Parker has put in over the past seven weeks. The work he is putting in with mental skills coach Ceri Evans is also paying dividends, he said.

"I guess it's pretty good to be a father," Parker said. "I got back and visited my baby girl and she's healthy and strong so that makes me happy. Going into this fight that gives me extra motivation, motivation for her - I missed my mum's 50th, I missed my sister's wedding, I'm fighting for my country and fighting for Samoa, so there's a lot of reasons for me to go out there and give it my best."

He has support from many well-known New Zealanders, including the All Blacks and David Tua, the man who has his own chance at the world heavyweight title but lost on points to the far bigger Lennox Lewis in Las Vegas in 2000.

"David is one of the fighters I looked up to and still look up to," Parker said. "He's pretty much the best fighter New Zealand has produced. He knocked out how many champions? Three or four champions he knocked out? He could have been champion himself but he probably didn't get the right opportunities. For me, David Tua is a legend in this country and to have him back me is very exciting for me."

Parker was reluctant to get too close to the WBO belt when he was shown to him for the first time this morning, but said: "Look at it, it's bloody amazing.

"At home mum has a cabinet with all the belts lined up and it looks awesome. Imagine having this at the top - that's the goal."

- NZ Herald

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