Close to 150 years after the introduction of the Queensbury Rules we have our first New Zealand-born world heavyweight titleholder.

Joseph Parker, the 24-year-old South Aucklander once had the world at his feet, now he has it resting on his hips in the form of the WBO belt.

His critics might point out that he remains some distance from unifying the world heavyweight championship but he is a big step closer after last night's victory over the previously unbeaten Andy Ruiz Jr.

The 'what next?' question is a conversation for the cold light of day.


In the cloying heat of Vector Arena last night it was a time for celebration. It was time to be proud of one of our own, a smiling assailant who seemingly embodies the values we cherish most in our sportsmen: humble, hard-working and, above all, good.

That humility might have made for a pre-fight build-that bordered on the mundane - with both camps intent of out-respecting each other - but as Duco promoter Dean Lonergan said last night by way of riposte, one day they'll get a trash talker down here and we'll criticise him for being so brash.

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Joseph Parker wins historic victory over Andy Ruiz Jr to claim WBO title
As it happened: WBO title fight Joseph Parker v Andy Ruiz

It is true that we often crave what we haven't got.

The respect between Parker and Ruiz Jr might have been still there as the bell for the first round went at 11.13pm but from that moment on the kisses were delivered with a fist.

Noted British boxing writer Hugh McIlvaney once wrote, with a double-edged undertone of respect and distaste, that "no fighters in the world are more dedicated to the raw violence of the business than Mexicans".

Traditionally that violence has been meted out in the lower weight classes, so Ruiz Jr is something of a mould breaker. What was in keeping with reputational was his relentless attempts to get on the front foot, to make Parker uncomfortable, to get pounding away with hands like mallets.

Parker, on the other hand, had to try to keep Ruiz Jr at a distance, where his left jab could snap snakelike at his opponents face.


When Ruiz Jr started strongly a state of barely suppressed anxiety instead settled over the arena.

When the fight ended still nobody knew for certain. Parker was unmarked. Ruiz Jr's face was a seething collection of welts but had his aggression swayed the judges?

One scored it a 114-114 draw, two had it 115-113.

Parker got the call. It will be argued.

At 12.05am, December 11, 2016, New Zealand had their champion and one other thing is certain: the country has developed an appetite for fight nights.

The arena provided an almost incongruous sight with more than 130 corporate tables on the floor and the proletariat looking down from the bleachers.

The clink of cutlery on china provided a constant soundtrack to the evening. It was shades of John Lennon at the 1963 Royal Variety Performance: "Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And for the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewellery."

World rugby player of the year Beauden Barrett was, as is expected, in the right place at the right time and there was even a muted cheer for our next Prime Minister Bill English, who is already grasping John Key's love of a sporting photo opportunity.

For so long English has held the keys to this country's finances and, yes, there was a lot of cash floating around on the floor of Vector Arena last night but it is not just the bow-tied who now have access to riches.

Parker has opened the door to the sort of prize-fights he could have only dreamed about as a promising but unfocused amateur.

He's now a champion; he's soon going to be a multimillionaire.

The boy from Papatoetoe has done good.