Are Joseph Parker's handlers right in changing direction, aiming for the WBO version of the world heavyweight title instead of, as had been planned, the IBF title held by Britain's Anthony Joshua?

If the WBO behaves as expected, the answer is indisputably in the affirmative. It makes sense financially, and from a boxing perspective. What is certain is that these two organisations are the only ones currently available for Parker to target.

The WBC already has a champion - American Deontay Wilder. Both the WBA and the WBO are certain to withdraw recognition from the erratic and ill-fated genuine champion, Tyson Fury.

They can either strip him of it, or opt for the more sensible and pragmatic option, which is what the WBC did when its champion, Vitali Klitschko, retired because of a recurring back injury. Knowing there was a possibility he might return (which is what he later did), it named him champion in recess, with the right to challenge whoever held the title if he did return.


But in either event, Fury is certain to exit the scene. The WBA already has an "interim" champion in Luis Ortiz of Cuba, who is scheduled to fight giant Russian Alexander Ustinov, who outpointed David Tua in Tua's final fight. It is highly likely it will recognise the winner as its champion.

The indications are that the WBO may sanction a fight for the title between Parker and Mexican Andy Ruiz Jnr, its next most highly rated fighter. This would suit Parker down to the ground - he gets an easier opponent than Anthony Joshua, and he also gets home advantage, the fight certain to be held in New Zealand.

So who is Andy Ruiz Jnr, and how good is he? He's 27 years old and is undefeated in 29 fights, with19 wins inside the distance. He has beaten many sound fighters, and a few fellow prospects, but none of his foes were rated in the top 10. His most recognisable victim is former WBO champion Siarhei Liakovich, whom he outpointed in December, 2014, the Russian then being faded and unrated.

Ruiz is ranked number seven by the WBC, five by the IBF, three by the WBO, and not at all by the WBA. Of the reputable independent rating bodies only the Ring Magazine has him in the top 10 - at no 10.

Like some other Mexican heavyweights, Ruiz is overweight. Pudgy is the apposite adjective. Despite this he has fast hands, good skills, and decent power. He should not worry Parker, though. The two sparred three years ago and Parker admitted he had a torrid session. However, Parker has improved since then; Ruiz has not. He is prone to taking longish layoffs, and can be difficult to manage. He has just withdrawn from a WBO eliminator against Hughie Fury (Tyson's young cousin) apparently because of a managerial disagreement.

If the fight happens, and Parker wins, New Zealand will be ecstatic and the boost to the sport will be immeasurable. Will he be recognised as a genuine would champion? He will by the majority, although genuine followers will know he will be one of four claimants, and possibly not the most recognised. Nevertheless, Ruiz is a more legitimate challenger than the hapless Charles Martin, whom Anthony Joshua obliterated to win his IBF belt.

Unfortunately for both Parker and Joshua, neither the WBO nor the IBF have as much credibility as the WBC or the WBA. The latter, based in Panama, is the oldest of the four, established in the 1920s.

The WBC, based in Mexico, was founded in 1963. The IBF dates from 1984, but was badly tainted in 1989 by charges of corruption and taking bribes in exchange for high ratings. The WBO began life in 1988 in Puerto Rico, where it is based. It was initially regarded as an irrelevant light weight, but has gradually increased its mana by acting sensibly and fairly - in recent times more so than the other three. It now has more credibility than the IBF.

There is a general concensus in the boxing world that the best heavyweights (Tyson Fury excepted ) are Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz, Anthony Joshua, Kubrat Pulev, and Parker. One of these - boxing politics permitted - may become a champion widely recognised as the best.