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Joseph Parker vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. possible for December 10

Anthony Joshua Joseph Parker

By Scott Gilfoid: It looks like unbeaten heavyweight contender Joseph Parker may not need to bother waiting around for a title shot against IBF champion Anthony Joshua, because he could wind up fighting for a title on December 10 against unbeaten Andy Ruiz Jr. Parker destroyed Alexander Dimitrenko in three rounds last Saturday night in New Zealand in a stay busy fight.

The 24-year-old Parker could be about to fight Ruiz Jr. for a career high payday for one of the two heavyweight titles that champion Tyson Fury still has in his possession. Fury may be soon stripped of his WBA and WBO titles for him allegedly testing positive for cocaine. If that happens, then one of those titles could be available for Parker and the Top Rank promoted Ruiz to fight over.

Parker’s promoter Dean Lonergan recently spoke to Top Rank about a fight against Ruiz on December 10 in New Zealand. It would be for huge money, but the WBA or WBO strap would need to be stripped from Fury for the fight to get made. Without a world title being on the line, there’s no real reason for Parker to fight Ruiz Jr.

“We settled on the fight being in New Zealand. We settled on a date which is December 10, and we’re within the process of settling on the money. We weren’t too far apart,” said Longergan to the nzhearald. “I would say right now that we are 95 per cent sure the fight will be held right here in New Zealand and more than likely Auckland given it’s the biggest market.”

Well, there it is. It looks like Parker is going to be fighting the unbeaten Ruiz Jr. next rather than Anthony Joshua. I imagine this news takes a load off the shoulders of Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, who now doesn’t need to worry about putting Joshua in a dangerous fight with the New Zealand talent.

Hearn can go ahead and match Joshua up against someone like Wladimir Klitschko or David Price on November 26 in a nice little mismatch. I don’t see Wladimir agreeing to fight Joshua unless it’s for one of the heavyweight titles still in Fury’s possession. If Wladimir has a chance to fight for one of those belts, then I see the fight against Joshua take place. The British boxing fans would eat up Joshua-Klitschko, even though the Ukrainian fighter is nowhere near his best at the age of 40.

As for Parker, it’s not surprising that he’s looking in another direction for a title shot. You can’t expect him to sit back and wait around for ages before he finally gets his International Boxing Federation mandated title shot against Joshua. Parker is the WBO and IBF #1 contender, so he’s got other options available to him. He doesn’t have to just stand around waiting to see what happens with the Joshua vs. Klitschko or Joshua vs. Price fights. Parker can go after the WBA or WBO titles once those belts get stripped from Fury, if they get stripped.

Parker said after his win over Dimitrenko:

“As soon as I knocked him down, I knew I had hurt him. It gives me a lot of confidence. My confidence started in training camp when I sparred the big guys, and I was able to have good movement and release the combinations I was practicing in the gym. We’re on the way to fight a lot of the top guys. We’d love to bring it here to New Zealand.”

Parker’s win over Dimitrenko sent a strong message to the 6’6” Joshua that he could have a real fight on his hands if he faces him. Parker was punching holes through Dimitrenko each time he landed one of his big shots last night. Parker had so much power that he was able to hurt Dimitrenko in the 3rd round with what appeared to be taps to the body.

Dimitrenko was rolling around on the canvas like a fish out of water after Parker hit him with a body shot in the 3rd round. The referee Marlon Wright had to stop the fight after Dimitrenko wouldn’t get up off the canvas after he was hit with two body shots. Yeah, one of the body shots landed after Dimitrenko was already on the canvas, but that’s not Parker’s fault. If boxing had instant replay, Dimitrenko probably would have survived the 3rd round. I don’t think it would have mattered much.

Parker’s promoter Dean Lonergon said:

“We’re going to be in discussions with a number of promoters around the world. I’ve spoken to Bob Arum. I’ll be speaking to Bernd Boente. He’s Klitschko’s manager. I also have dialogue open with Eddie Hearn. It’s been well noted that the Joshua fight is down for November 26. We’ve got one more fight to finish the year. I’d like to think that it’s going to be for the world title one way or another. We’ve got him to the point where he’s No.1 with the WBO, and No.1 with the IBF. It’s fair to say that we couldn’t be in a stronger position going forward. We’ll sit down as a team and make a decision which way to go. I think it would be pretty fantastic to bring the title fight to New Zealand. But at the end of the day, we’re going to see which opportunities arise from tonight’s victory. The discussions with Eddie Hearn are meticulous.”

In a perfect world, Parker and Lonergan would have no problems negotiating a fight against Joshua. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world we live in, and I think it might prove difficult for Lonergan and Parker to negotiate a fight with Hearn. If Hearn is dragging his feet in the negotiations, then it could take a while before the fight gets made.

Additionally, the chances are high that Parker would be stuck fighting in the UK in front of Joshua’s fans. Parker is better off fighting Ruiz in New Zealand in front of his own boxing fans for either the WBA or WBO heavyweight titles.


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