New Zealand's new heavyweight champion of the world Joseph Parker has achieved his first dream, now he plans to fulfill his next one - to unify the division, a lofty goal but one that he is justified in having after his hard-fought but deserved victory over Andy Ruiz Jr.

But first there is a break to take. Parker is one of the busiest heavyweights in the top echelon and, this, his 15th fight in three years, will have taken its toll, and particularly in terms of taxing his mental reserves. He will probably fight again in March or April, and potentially against Hughie Fury, cousin of Tyson who vacated the WBO belt.

Parker, 24, did it the hard way, and Ruiz Jr later claimed the victory for himself. Down by as many as four rounds at the Vector Arena as he attempted to keep the hard-charging Mexican at bay, Parker showed incredible patience, confidence in his game plan, and ability, to not only nullify Ruiz Jr's threat, but finish over the top for his majority points decision. It's only fair that he is given a chance to take stock and re-charge.

Parker's corner erupted at the 114-114, 115-113 and 115-113 decision by the judges. Trainer Kevin Barry, in particular, was ecstatic. He promised his late father, Kevin senior, that he would take a fighter to a heavyweight world championship, and having just failed with David Tua in Las Vegas 16 years ago, he did it with a humble young man from Papatoetoe instead.


"He'll be happy won't he?" Barry, an Olympic silver medallist, said of his father. "He'll be looking down and I think he'll be pretty proud. It's really special. It's the most special moment of my boxing career. Being there in 2000 was good because it was my first time, and I won it with [light heavyweight Beibut] Shumenov, but to be here in New Zealand with Joe, somebody who I have so much respect for, somebody who I love so much, for him to create history in New Zealand and for me to be part of it, it's very special."

Parker said: "What a great feeling. I dreamed of doing this one day and now I've fulfilled that dream, my goal, and I couldn't have done it without my team... what a great feeling it is to win it and win it in New Zealand."

Asked what he was thinking when referee Tony Weeks started reading out the result, Parker said: "I just listened to my coach and he said 'I think we did enough to win it at the end'. The jab, when we used that jab and punished him from the outside, we knew we won those rounds. It was a very close fight, he brought his A-game... he showed speed and power and it was a great fight he put on.

"This is a dream come true, but this is just the start. Now that we've won this we're going to dominate the heavyweight division, that's our goal. Our goal is to win and keep winning, dominate and unify those belts."

Parker's face was unmarked despite being hit regularly, but Ruiz Jr's was badly bruised and already starting to swell around the eyes when he spoke to the media afterwards. His eyes were bloodshot and he had several ugly red marks on his face, neck and chest. Barry said: "Andy fought a hell of a battle, but look at his face. Joe bashed him up, he's really marked him."

Ruiz Jr, the aggressor throughout, said: "I think I won the fight, I was always on the pace and controlling the rounds with the jab, pushing him back and putting him under pressure.

"I don't think he threw a lot of combinations, I think I showed that I was the faster guy out there, but I came to his home town and I think the judges were in his favour."

He added after his first defeat as a professional: "He didn't hurt me at all. This cut [over right eye] is from a headbutt that we both crashed in... he couldn't really do anything but move back. I give him four rounds good that he got me. I've just got to come back and hopefully we'll get a re-match some day."


Barry, who gave up drinking for eight weeks during the training camp but who planned to celebrate in style, said: "I knew the longer the fight went, the better it would be for Joe. I knew Andy would have some moments in the early parts of the fight and he did, but once Joe started to control the distance from the oustide and work off the double jab, we were just piling the points on and keeping Andy off balance."

Ruiz Jr said before he arrived that he probably needed to win by more than three rounds as he was fighting in Parker's home town, and conceded last night: "Maybe I could have done a little bit more to win."

The Mexican's legendary trainer Abel Sanchez felt his man won the fight. Asked whether Parker was at the level of the likes of IBF champion Anthony Joshua or Wladimir Klitschko, he said: "Both guys have a little way to go before getting to [the level of] Joshua but this fight will help both guys become better fighters."

For the record, the Herald scored the fight:
Round one: Ruiz Jr 10-9
Round two: Ruiz Jr 10-9
Round three: Ruiz Jr 10-9
Round four: Ruiz Jr 10-9
Round five: Parker 10-9
Round six: Parker 10-9
Round seven: Ruiz Jr 10-9
Round eight: Parker 10-9
Round nine: Parker 10-9
Round 10: Parker 10-9
Round 11: Parker 10-9
Round 12: Parker 10-9
Parker: 115-113