Joseph Parker vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. fight for WBO title on Sat.
By Dan Ambrose: Unbeaten #3 WBO Andy Ruiz Jr. (29-0, 19 KOs) will be attempting to become the first Mexican American to capture a heavyweight title this Saturday night on December 10 when he faces unbeaten #1 WBO Joseph Parker (21-0, 18 KOs) at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Parker vs. Ruiz Jr. fight will be televised on HBO Championship Boxing this Saturday, December 10 starting at 9:35 p.m. ET/PT. In addition to the Parker-Ruiz fight, HBO will be showing WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) defending his titles against contender John Molina (29-6, 23 KOs) and Raymundo Beltran (31-7-1, 19 KOs) facing Mason Menard (32-1, 24 KOs) in a fight that will be taking place at the CenturyLink Arena in Omaha, Nebraska. That’s where the 29-year-old Crawford lives.
Unfortunately, the Parker-Ruiz Jr. fight couldn’t take place in the same venue as the Crawford vs. Molina fight, because it wouldn’t do the fight justice, because Parker isn’t nearly as big a name in Omaha as he is in New Zealand.
The WBO title become vacant recently after champion Tyson Fury vacated the belt due to him having problems in his life that he needed to deal with.
It will give fans a rare glimpse of the 24-year-old Parker. This will be a really tough fight for Parker, because Ruiz Jr. is a big puncher with fast hands. To look at the 260-pound Ruiz Jr, you wouldn’t think that he would have much in the way of hand speed, because he’s not well defined when it comes to his physique.
Ruiz’s hand speed is good, but his foot speed leaves a lot to be desired. Ruiz Jr. does not move quickly around the ring. That’s something that Parker is likely going to try and take advantage of on Saturday night, because he’s not going to just stand in front of Ruiz Jr. and give him his only chance of winning by slugging from start to finish. Parker does have the kind of devastating punching power that would enable him to win a war, but it would be a risky fight for him.
It would make the fight more of a 50-50 affair if Parker stood and fought Ruiz’s style of fighting. That would play into the Mexican American fighter’s game plan if he were to do that. Parker isn’t going to do that though. He’s going to use his feet and pick his spots to unload his big power shots. What Parker has going for him in this fight besides his superior mobility is his ability to load up on single power shots to get the better of his opponents.
Ruiz Jr. said this to ESPN.com about his fight on Saturday against Parker:
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” said Ruiz Jr. “It’s what we’ve been training for. We’re ready for whatever comes, but it would be big for all Mexican people. I would love to be the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world and we’re going to be. I can’t wait to bring that belt home.”
Ruiz Jr. is going to need to really do well on Saturday for him to bring the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title home to California. The fight is taking place in New Zealand, which is where Parker comes from. Parker now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he’s from New Zealand. Most of the fans will be on the 6’4” Parker’s side on Saturday night.
If Ruiz Jr’s is going to win this fight, then he’s going to need to make sure he wins in a dominating fashion by either knocking Parker out or beating him so badly that the judges can’t score the fight against him. Being the visiting fighter probably puts Ruiz Jr. behind in the fight right off the bat. Parker will have the cheering from the fans, and he’ll fight with more energy due to the fans cheering him on.
Ruiz Jr’s promoter Bob Arum has been talking a lot about Ruiz’s talent, and he raves about his hand speed. It’s nice that Arum finally gets to see Ruiz Jr. fight for a world title after seven years of promoting him. If things don’t work out for Ruiz Jr. on Saturday night against Parker, then hopefully it doesn’t take him another seven years before he gets his next title shot. Ruiz Jr. didn’t get the big push like two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko did. The Ukrainian fighter fought for a world title in just his 2nd fight as a pro. Ruiz Jr. did have a good amateur career in posing a record of 105-5 in winning the Mexican Nation Championship in 2007 and 2008. However, Ruiz Jr. didn’t fight in the Olympics, and he didn’t accomplish the kinds of things that Lomachenko did as an amateur.
If Ruiz Jr. can become a heavyweight champion of the world, he would likely be able to cash in the same way that Mexican star Saul Canelo Alvarez has been able to do in winning titles at 154 and 160. Canelo is a big star in the U.S., even though he’s not proven that he’s the best fighter at junior middleweight and middleweight. You’ve got guys that are probably better than Canelo at 154 like Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, Erislandy Lara and Julian Williams, and yet Canelo is the bigger star in the U.S. At middleweight, Gennady Golovkin is a better fighter than Canelo, and he’s not as popular as him. If Ruiz Jr. can win the WBO heavyweight title against Parker, his promoter Bob Arum could turn him into a star with the right kind of match-making. It might require that Arum take it easy with Ruiz Jr. for two or three years in terms of not putting him in with dangerous heavyweights. If Ruiz Jr. milks his title for an extended number of years, he could be Arum’s next big star rather than Lomachenko. Ruiz Jr. has a large untapped fan base that he could tap into in the U.S to become another Canelo.
“As far as Top Rank is concerned, if we had a Mexican heavyweight champion, he would be huge with the Hispanic fans in the United States and Mexico,” Arum said to ESPN.com. “Andy is a Mexican-American who speaks perfect Spanish and English. He would be a tremendous attraction on either side of the border. We can do big things with him both on premium cable television and also on pay-per-view.”
That would be interesting if Arum can turn Ruiz Jr. into a pay-per-view attraction on HBO. It would be even more interesting if Ruiz Jr. became a bigger star than Canelo Alvarez. The heavyweight division has always been a very popular division among the boxing fans. With a Mexican heavyweight champion, Arum could hit pay dirt as far as bringing in a huge new revenue stream for his Top Rank company. As of now, the Parker vs. Ruiz Jr. fight hasn’t created a lot of interest from the fans in the U.S. Part of the reason is because the fight isn’t marketed hard in a big way in the U.S.
The match is taking place outside of the States, and that obviously hurts the promotion of the fight. The other reason why the Parker-Ruiz Jr. fight hasn’t caught on with the fans is because Parker and Ruiz Jr. are not well known with the casual boxing fans. Neither fighter has done much in their careers as of yet. That could change if Ruiz Jr. wins the WBO title on Saturday night on HBO. It would be big news, and possibly turn Ruiz Jr. into a star overnight.
“I also think it’s good for boxing if he beats Parker. There would be a lot of good matches for him, and because of his Hispanic heritage, he’d probably become a bigger attraction in the U.S. than any other heavyweight,” said Arum about Ruiz.