Part 3 of 3 of my interview with David Higgins of Duco Events. In Part 3, I raise the possibility of Samoa hosting Parker's first WBO Title defense. There are a lot of merits here. Refer to my earlier article on this site the day after Joseph's win.
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Andy Ruiz Jr at his Presser after the fight
Andy Ruiz Jr wants a rematch against Joseph Parker, and his coach Abel Sanchez agrees.
He is a bitter man after the loss to Parker tonight. "I thought I did enough to win."
Ruiz believes he controlled the fight and he should be credited with eight rounds and Parker four rounds.
He said he proved tonight he is a heavyweight contender. After the loss, he will train hard and go back to the gym.
Ruiz said that Parker did not hurt him at all.
"What can I say, I just got to come back and hopefully we'll get a rematch one day."
Sanchez agrees with his charge, "The judges may have been influenced by the boisterous crowd."
He adds, "Even though we had a voiceferous crowd, I still think we did enough to win."
The fight he says is a kind of fight worthy of a rematch, "Where else can you see a fight like tonight? Two gusys throwing a lot of punches."
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The CHAMP. Son of the Nation with the Father of the Nation, Lupesoliai and Lupesoliai, Joseph Parker and the
Hon. Prime Minister of Samoa taking ownership of the WBO Heavyweight Belt.
History is made. Samoa has a Boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World and his name is Lupesoliai Laauli-a-le-malietoa Joseph Parker.
He is a champion for his native New Zealand too, but the victory tonight was visibly Samoan with the attendance of Samoa's PM, the Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.
The Son of the Nation and the Father of the Nation shared a very proud moment after the fight.
Tonight at Vector Arena, Parker did enough to beat a determined and dangerous Andy Ruiz Jr.
Parker had to work hard to get the win, particularly after losing the early rounds to Ruiz. Something that irks Ruiz's corner no end.
Abel Sanchez, Ruiz's coach said as much. "If you win the first four rounds like Andy did there is no way you are going to lose the fight from there."
"I thought we won. Parker may have won four rounds at the most. They scored it, we have to take it."
Ruiz himself was scathing of the "hometown decision" that robbed him of a sure victory.
"I won the fight tonight. I was the aggressor, I was going forward and controlling the fight."
"I showed I was the fighter guy out there, but I came into his hometown tonight. I think the judges were on his favour."
Ruiz is hoping for a rematch hopefully in his home turf. He said the Parker camp were shocked with how he fought against their man.
At the Parker corner, trainer Kevin Barry said he knew with two rounds to go that they had control of the fight. He cautioned the Press to value the victory for what it was, a hard fought fight against a dangerous opponent in Ruiz.
The man of the hour Parker said his jab won the night for him by keeping Ruiz at bay all night.
"I felt when I used my jab everything went well."
Barry is a happy man for his own father, the late Kevin Barry Snr, who wanted so much for his son to coach a world champion.
"He would be very happy wouldn't he. He will be looking down tonight and feeling very proud," beamed Kevin Barry Jr.
Looking forward now Parker will take a well earned rest. Duco owner David Higgins gave an outline of possibilities tonight, including a possible defense of Parker's title back here in New Zealand. Dunedin's Forsyth Parr Stadium was mentioned as a possible venue for its outdoor and undercover seating.
That defense will be targeted for March or April in 2017 against Hewie Fury or David Haye. Vladimir Klitschko is also in the ranking but he already has a fight penciled in for April against Anthony Joshua.
"We're going to sit down and write everything on the board and plan from there," said Higgins.
But Ruiz Jr and Sanchez do not believe Parker has the armoury to mix it with the Northern Hemisphere champions like Anthony Joshua and Klitschko.
"This fight is going to go a long way to help both guys become better fighters," is the best Sanchez could say about tonight's fight.
Kevin Barry added that he will sit down to watch the full fight to learn the lessons from tonight's battle with Ruiz Jr.
He may also have a drink for the first time in eight weeks to celebrate Parker becoming the WBO Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Lupesoliai Laauli Joseph Parker exits the cauldron after his historic victory against Ruiz Jr
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The voice of Boxing Colonel Bob Sheridan gives the nod to Joseph Parker to win by KO against Andy Ruiz Jr. in their WBO Heavyweight Title fight in Auckland this weekend.
He is excited by the heavyweight match up and the history making nature of the fight.
"This is a big moment for Boxing. This is perhaps one of the best heavyweight boxing matches we have seen for 10yrs or more. There’s nothing bigger in sport than a heavy weight championship of the world."
The Colonel points to Ruiz's speed as his greatest asset. He brings fast hands and fast feet and he is very tough. Ruiz does not know defeat.
But Joseph he says is a bigger guy all round, also with fast hands and a very heavy punch.
He thinks Kevin Barry will want his charge to put Ruiz at the end of the jab very early on and make sure Joseph hurts Ruiz in the first round.
Asked for his call on the fight, "My call for the fight is Joseph will knock him out between the 5th and 8th round."
He has been right every time this year on the outcome of Parker's fights.
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Match Referee Tony Weeks at the #ParkervRuizJr Weigh-in
Meet the man who will officiate the WBO Title bout between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Tony Weeks found out four weeks ago that he will be traveling to Auckland city to referee the fight.
"Anytime you get called up to officiate in a Title fight, it is a great honour."
This is Weeks' first visit to NZ. "It's a very beautiful country, and very friendly people. All the people here are nice."
As for the fight, Weeks is looking forward to a great fight.
"It is going to be a great fight. There is a lot at stake. The winner of this will have the WBO portion of the heavyweight championship and will have the opportunity to be in that pool to unify the division."
He has plenty of refereeing experience. The Parker/Ruiz bout is his 22nd fight this year alone. A year that has seen him take control of fights involving some of the greats of the sport, including the Manny Pacquiao (v. Timothy Bradley Jr) fight in April.
His last refereeing appointment in 2015 was a memorable one too. He was in charge of the Tyson Fury v Vladimir Klitschko fight in Dusseldorf, Germany (Nov, 2015) that Fury won.
That was a memorable fight because it brought about a change of the guard, and injected a new energy into the division.
With all that experience, he knows exactly who will win on Saturday at Vector Arena. When asked who will win the fight, a question he has been asked a thousand times around the world, his answer was ready and honed, "The one who I raise the hand in the ring."
"As referees, we don't make predictions on fights we officiate in," Weeks said with a beaming smile.
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Andy Ruiz Jr and Joseph Parker embrace at the Weigh-in
There will be a lot of friendly fire in the ring on Saturday night at Vector Arena. So much so the victor of the WBO Heavyweight Title bout between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr will no doubt say a prayer over the fallen at the end of the bout.
Both men are supremely religious and committed Christians. Ruiz Jr is the more vocal about his faith.
"I believe in God, and I fight for God. When I win I will give God all the glory for what he has done for me," he said.
Parker himself is from a deeply Christian family. Parker's mother Sala Parker told me that there is a lot of praying going on in the Parker household. Not only for her son, but for Ruiz also.
"We are praying for a good fight for my son, and also for Andy. They are both sons."
All this love and respect was evident at the Weigh In at the Britomart Country Club on Friday morning. At the end of the Stand-off between the fighters, Joseph and Ruiz then shook hands, and embraced each other.
Ruiz's promoter Bob Arum spoke of the place of respect in Boxing, “It’s my experience in boxing that when the fighters respect each other and they handle each other politely at the Press Conferences and other events prior to the fight. Then all the aggressiveness goes to where it belongs in the ring, and you get a tremendous fight.”
“When there’s a lot of trash talking outside of the ring, when they get to the ring, it is not much of a fight.”
After embracing Ruiz Jr, then Joseph Parker lines up for a shot with Andy Ruiz Snr, his opponent's father
All this respect will be tossed aside according to Ruiz when the bell goes. That is when the switch is turned on to get nasty and go to war.
According to coaches Abel Sanchez (Ruiz) and Kevin Barry (Parker) it will be a battle of attrition in the ring.
"There will be a lot of punches thrown and both guys will take a lot of punishment," said Barry.
It is going to be a torrid affair. It is a shame one of these good men will end up the loser on the night.
Whoever will taste defeat for the first time, he can count on a lot of respect and even prayers, from the victor.
At the end of the WBO Title Fight at Vector Arena on Saturday night, one of the heavyweight contenders will taste defeat for the very first time as a pro-Boxer. Laauli Joseph Parker or Andy Ruiz Jr will know what defeat is on Saturday evening. The winner will go on undefeated, for a little longer yet.
Everyone gets beaten in the ring. That is as true as the rising of the sun in the morning.
In the modern history of Boxing, there has not been an undefeated heavyweight boxer. Everyone gets beaten sometime. Some great champions of recent times knew defeat long before becoming heavy weight champion of the world.
An example is James Buster Douglas, that great specimen of a boxer, who knocked down, and out the great Mike Tyson in Tokyo (1990).
Before he went to Tokyo to fight the undefeated and heavily favourred Mike Tyson (37-0), Douglas already had three losses to his name.
The first of his four losses was sustained inside his first ten fights (5th, David Bey), then came three close losses in the 21st (Mike White), 25th (Jesse Ferguson) and 29th fights (Tony Tucker).
Douglas rebuilt his career with seven straight wins after that to then face the indomitable Mike Tyson in Tokyo.
Tyson was the undefeated champion of the world. Not only that, Tyson had the longest winning streak in the history of the sport. He was facing Douglas with a 37-0 record. His running streak was even better than the great Muhammad Ali whose first loss came in Ali's 32nd fight against Joe Frazier.
Only British boxer Henry Akinwande is the closest to Tyson’s winning streak with his first loss in the 34th bout against another Brit, Lennox Lewis. But Akinwande did have a draw in his 19th fight (Axel Schulz).
Aside from Tyson, and perhaps Akinwande, everyone else of the modern heavyweight era lost a fight in the mid-20s. Lennox Lewis had his first loss in his 26th fight (Oliver McCall). Vladimir Klitschko had his first loss in his 25th fight. Klitschko’s brother Vitali had his first loss in his 28th fight. Evander Hollyfield in his 29th fight (Riddick Bowe) and again in the 32nd (Michael Moorer).
The point is, Parker and Ruiz will be in good company whoever loses on Saturday. And it is not the end of the boxing world for the loser at Vector Arena.
Although a defeat will be bitter, the loser will learn a lot from that defeat. The foundation for going forward is not in the defeat, but the victories to this point.
A boxer does not have a winning streak like Ruiz (29-0) and Parker (21-0) without knocking over other great fighters along the way.
Buster Douglas is a great example in this regard as someone who had four losses before he knocking out Mike Tyson.
Then there is Vladimir Klitschko who went on to fight 39 more fights (total 64 fights) and remained champion for ten years after his first loss. Lennox Lewis went on to dominate Heavyweight boxing in the late nineties until his retirement in 2003.
He had a rematch with McCall that he won. Lewis' list of victories is impressive –Mike Tyson, Shannon Briggs, Hasim Rahman, Henry Akinwande, Vitali Klitschko, Oliver McCall and others including a win over David Tua in his 40th fight.
He lost to Hasim Rahman in the next fight (41st) but then promptly beat Rahman in the return bout seven months later. Lewis fought twice more with wins over Mike Tyson (43rd) and Vitali Klitschko (44th) before he hung up the gloves and a champion having fought 41 fights with two losses and one draw (Holyfield).
Both fighters are talking confidently of victory on Saturday night. Andy Ruiz said in his Press Conference today that he is not leaving New Zealand without the WBO Belt and that Mexico will have its first Heavyweight Champion of the world yet. Joseph Parker says this is his time and that he will win on Saturday.
Both men are right, but one of them has to take the loss on Saturday. It will not be the end of the world for whoever tastes defeat for the first time.
In my other life, I cover the All Blacks, Boxing, watch the Weather and of course manage Samoa Events