Andy Ruiz Jr has gambled ahead of his WBO heavyweight title fight against Joseph Parker by delaying his arrival in New Zealand until a week tomorrow - only five days before the bout.

While the Mexican heavyweight will be flying from Los Angeles and a relatively friendly time zone compared with New Zealand, putting back his arrival date must be considered a risk, as it gives him little time to adapt to local conditions. He was originally planning to arrive yesterday. Parker flew into Auckland from his Las Vegas base on Friday morning.

It means Ruiz will be one of the last fighters on the card to arrive for the December 10 fight at Vector Arena, including those from Australia such as Jeff Horn, the WBO's No 2-ranked welterweight.

Even most of the WBO officials - and there are plenty for the six fights - will arrive earlier.


The reasons behind Ruiz's decision are two-fold - his delay will in theory help him reap the benefits of his altitude training at Big Bear Lake, California, plus, just as importantly, he will be able to fly in with trainer and mentor Abel Sanchez.

Sanchez, who has a stable of fighters at his Summit gym in Big Bear Lake, has a prior commitment which would have prevented him from arriving earlier. His undefeated cruiserweight Murat Gassiev fights Denis Lebedev for the WBA and IBF titles in Moscow on Thursday.

The new plan is for Sanchez and Ruiz to link in Los Angeles afterwards and travel Down Under together. Here they will face a kapa haka welcome; an introduction which has the potential of starting a relatively intimidating build-up for 29-year-old Ruiz, a man not used to the spotlight preparing for the biggest fight of his professional career.

In theory, Ruiz's decision to put back his arrival date should take advantage of training at more than 2000m ASL at his alpine resort base. In fact, arriving earlier may have nullified the conditioning, according to Sanchez's argument, although it's a fine line the other way, too.

Sanchez told the Herald at Big Bear Lake recently: "Between seven and 10 days is your peak period, when you feel like you're a million dollars. It wears off after 15 days."

But again, Sanchez conceded much of the benefits of altitude training are probably mental.

"I see when guys train off the mountain and say they've been sparring 12 rounds, they often can't go three or four up here," he said. "That has to say something to them. He [Ruiz] knows that now, and everyone who trains here does. Supposedly it builds up the red blood cells and you're able to function on less oxygen. There's a lot of scientific jargon you can talk about, but to me, it's more mental."

Parker's early activities will revolve around getting over the 12-hour flight, and commercial and promotional activities. However, trainer Kevin Barry said his training would also include sparring sessions.

"I'm thinking about doing a couple of sparring sessions in New Zealand the first week back," he said in Las Vegas recently.

"They will be four rounds, or maybe a four and a six - just to keep things ticking over. We're feeling very good the way things are falling into place at the moment."