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Joseph Parker vs. Andy Ruiz ordered for vacant WBO title

Joseph Parker

By Scott Gilfoid: The World Boxing Organization has reportedly ordered Joseph Parker (21-0, 18 KOs) vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. (29-0, 19 KOs) fight at their WBO convention in San Juan. The two fighters will fight for the vacant WBO heavyweight title that was recently vacated by champion Tyson Fury.

The winner of the Parker-Ruiz fight would then be required to fight has four months [120 days] to face #4 WBO contender David Haye (28-2, 26 KOs). If Haye chooses not to take the winner of the Parker vs. Ruiz fight, then it would be the next ranked contender in the WBO’s rankings.

In that case, it would be #5 Hughie Fury. I think it would be a really tough for the 6’6” Hughie to take in fighting the winner of the Parker-Ruiz fight. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Hughie and his father/trainer Peter Fury turn the opportunity down like they turned down a title shot against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder when the fight was offered to hem last year.

This is not good news for Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn, as he was hoping that the WBO belt would be available for a potential fight between IBF heavyweight Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, which now appears to be very much in doubt.

The Parker vs. Ruiz Jr. fight is heading toward December 10, and will likely take place in the 24-year-old Parker’s home country in New Zealand. The winner of the

Parker is rated #1 by the International Boxing Federation, and is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s title. However, it’s a better deal for Parker to fight the 27-year-old Ruiz Jr. for the vacant WBO belt than facing Joshua. The main reason for that is because Parker can fight in front of his own boxing fans in New Zealand rather than being stuck fighting in the UK in front of a large group of Joshua’s loyal fans.

A fight between Joshua and Parker can still take place in the future at some point, but under much more favorable conditions for Parker. The last thing that Parker needs is to be in a position where he’s fighting in front of a large horde of Joshua fans in the UK where he might need a knockout to ensure that he get his hand raised at the end of the fight.

If Haye chooses to fight the winner of the Parker-Ruiz fight for the WBO strap, then it’s going to derail a fight between him and WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew on March 4. That’s a fight that Bellew and his promoter Eddie Hearn BADLY wants, because it would make them a lot of money. It’s a pay-per-view worthy fight on Sky Box Office. The fight wouldn’t sell in the U.S. Haye would have problems dealing with the size, youth and punching power of the 6’4″ Parker. This would be a DRAMATIC step up in class for Haye if he were to fight Parker from the last two guys that he fought. Since coming back earlier this year, Haye has beaten fringe contenders Mark De Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj. You can argue that those are two of the worst heavyweights in the top 15, and Haye fought them both. Those were showcase fights for Haye. But if Haye agrees to fight Parker for the WBO title, we could be seeing him look all of his 36 years. We might see another Wladimir Klitschko type of loss for Haye. If Haye chooses to stand in the pocket against the big punching Parker, he could get steamrolled by one of his powerful uppercuts. I could see Haye get knocked out within three rounds by the young lion Parker just like Alexander Dimitrenko was recently. It would be a shock for Haye to go from fighting the guys that he’s been facing lately to fighting Parker. I don’t see it ending well for Haye.

We’re probably talking about a sparse crowd of maybe 1000 fans at best to see a mismatch like that in the U.S, but it’s a different story in the UK. Unfortunately for Haye, he can’t take the Bellew fight in March and still be available to fight the winner of the Parker vs. Ruiz fight. The WBO is giving Haye 120 days to fight the winner of the December 10th fight between Parker and Ruiz. That’s obviously not going to work for Haye, is it? What this means is that Bellew is now going to need to FINALLY fight his WBC mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis (21-0, 18 KOs) unless Hearn can ask the World Boxing Council to allow Bellew to sidestep Briedis a second time.

It’s going to be forlorn if Bellew swerves the Briedis fight, because he needs to get him out of the way already. That’s his mandatory challenger and he was supposed to have fought him in his first defense of his WBC title. Instead, Bellew was allowed to take a voluntary defense against #14 WBC BJ Flores this month. With Haye now in line to fight for the winner of the Parker vs. Ruiz fight, it takes a fight against Haye off the table for the immediate future.

A fight between Bellew and Haye can still take place after Haye fights for the WBO title, but we’re talking about the second half of 2017. In the meantime, Bellew would need to fight Briedis, who might knock him out and kill all interest in a fight between him and Haye. There might be some British boxing fans that would still be interested in paying to see Bellew and Haye fight after Bellew gets knocked out by Briedis, but my guess is not nearly as many as there would be if he doesn’t get beaten.

Briedis brings his own judges to his fights in the form of his two powerful fists, so he’s not likely to be on the receiving end up a controversial decision if he fights Bellew. Further, if Brieidis gets hit low like Flores did, he’s not going to just stop fighting and let Bellew tee off on him like Flores. That was what happened in the 2nd round of the Bellew-Flores fight.

Bellew nailed Flores low, and then went after him big time with a flurry of shots while he was doubled over in pain from the low shot. It didn’t look very sporting to be honest. But what was sad was how he referee didn’t stop the action to warn Bellew for the low blow, and give Flores time to recover. Briedis will obviously be ready for anything of that type of thing happening in a fight against Bellew. What we don’t want to see is a low blow trading contest with the referee not seeing any of it and not doing anything do take control over the fight.

My guess is Hearn will speak with the WBC to let Bellew swerve Briedis again, and instead will look got put him in a unification fight against the 37-year-old WBA champion Denis Lebedev. I don’t think it’ll work out any better for Bellew than a fight against Briedis, but he’ll at least get a nice payday in fighting a unification match. What Bellew should do is just vacate his WBC title so that he can avoid the potential knockout loss to Briedis. Bellew could then fight a fodder opponent in March while he waits for the pay-per-view fight against Haye. Frankly, I wouldn’t’ be surprised if that’s what Bellew does.

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