By Steven Donnell
Steven takes a look over Parker’s WBO success over Andy Ruiz Jnr on Saturday
This fight was a great change of pace for us over here in the UK (something I could definitely get used to). Up and out of bed at 9.30 AM on Saturday morning. Sober, fresh and ready to watch the highly-rated Joseph Parker take on Andy Ruiz (a man who might not look like a professional athlete but is still talented all the same) for the WBO world title that had been stripped from Tyson Fury.
The last time I had watched Parker I wasn’t too impressed if I’m honest, but I was willing to put it down to just one of those nights that every boxer has once in a while. I was looking forward to seeing how he coped with Ruiz, and when the fight got started, his quick hands, power and movement looked as if it was going to be big a task for the American.
As Parker came out for the second round he must have been thinking the same as me, and if he was thinking like that, he wouldn’t be for long. Ruiz had been told to throw solid jabs to Parkers midriff and that is exactly what he did while easily taking the second and the third rounds and as his shots were landing you could see Parker wince. Going into the middle rounds, Parker was noticeably reluctant to engage as any time he did, Ruiz was getting the better shots in. The middle rounds are where the fight was won in my opinion.
Parker was still not engaging or allowing Ruiz to tie him up, and was using those fast hands of his to establish his jab perfectly but Andy Ruiz was just letting the shots land before following Parker, rather than closing him off and tying him up. He needed to draw Parker out his comfort zone and into a fight, where Ruiz looked too much for the big Kiwi. You could tell Ruiz had never been 12 rounds before. He looked wary of closing Parker down, as he might gas going into the later rounds and it was this decision that I believe cost him this fight. This was a close fight and going into the 10th I had Parker up by two rounds, but in the 10th you got the feeling that the tide was starting to turn towards Andy Ruiz. Surprisingly, it was Parker who was slowing up and Ruiz was finding it easier to get in range (it even looked like he shook Parker up on the bell). I gave Ruiz rounds 10 and 11, making the last round vital, which you had to give to Parker who went back to his jab-and-run tactic to stop the rot.
As it went to the judges cards, I couldn’t help but think that with Parker being the local lad, he would be up by seven rounds or something crazy like that. Watching fights in the UK can do that to a person, but when the first card came in as a draw, you knew there wasn’t going to be any funny business here. The other two judges gave it to Parker 115-113 and you couldn’t really argue with any of the cards. However, I couldn’t help but think that if Ruiz just had more faith in his gas tank then there would have been a big upset in New Zealand. The middle rounds hurt Ruiz as Parker did not win those rounds, so much as Ruiz gave him them.
So to sum it up, again Andy Ruiz was a pleasant surprise. For a guy carrying so much excess fat, he really can shift (and by the looks of it can go 12 rounds no problem), but is he world level? Well, I wouldn’t go that far just yet but he is a decent prospect. As for Joseph Parker, I was underwhelmed to say the least. He didn’t win this fight by being a better boxer, he won this fight by being a taller person.
The jury might still be out for me with Parker but I am leaning towards him being nothing more than a hype job when it comes to fighting at world level.
Steven Donnell @Dinobhoy86
Photo Credits: BoxNation and TVNZ