Fans are buzzing about Joseph Parker-Andy Ruiz heavyweight tilt
I’ve been asking around, on social media, what televised fights unfolding this weekend are people most jazzed about.
Getting good buzz response is the heavyweight tango that’s to unspool in New Zealand and on HBO, pitting Joseph Parker, a 21-0 NZ native, against Top Rank prospect Andy Ruiz.
Stakes are not small; the vacant WBO crown is up for grabs at Vector Arena in Auckland.
Ruiz, a Mexico-born Californian, is perhaps less heralded. His progress to this point has been, in the Top Rank fashion, “Trampleresque.” That means, he’s edged his way up the ladder, rather than clambering eagerly up the rungs. There have been questions about his focus and desire and willingness to give himself over to a mindset of full-on devotion to craft. That
translates to his acceptance that you are what you eat, among other things, and the food you use to fuel your body is an imperative element of training. Good sign–he’s been campaigning of late in the 250s, down from the 270s.
Abel Sanchez, the 2015 BWAA Trainer of the Year, recently took on Ruiz, who holds a 29-0 record but still semi-untested, being that he’s amassed wins against non top 20 types. Josh (Dempsey) Gormley, his July KO victim is at this point a shopworn steppingstone, to be excessively candid.
If you haven’t seen Ruiz, you won’t be awed when he takes off his robe. But he has good balance and hand speed and a snarly aggressive streak. He’s relaxed in the ring, and is a bit more elusive, with head movement, than you might suspect. He mixes head and body shots smartly and likes to be the advancer. He’s busy, so Parker shouldn’t expect low volume just because Ruiz is a jumbo body.
Parker, at 24, has met similar opposition to Ruiz. His last scalp, Alexander Dimitrenko, in October, was at one time a prospect.
Parker too likes to advance in methodical fashion. He pops a snappy jab, but sometimes paws it too much. He can be waiting too much at times, though I think Ruiz forces him to be more active for longer stretches. His jab is his setup and he will flurry when seeing an opening he likes. Ruiz might try to snake hard rights over a low left from Parker, which hangs out front. Parker can be backed up, but even when in reverse, he pops a dissuading jab. He favors head work over body bashing and sometimes needs reminding to whack a torso. He will have a mobility edge in this WBO title crack.
(HBO will show it on tape delay, as NZ is 18 hours ahead of NY.)
I asked Sanchez, who responded via text from NZ, if he sees Ruiz v Parker as a 50-50 tango.
“I think so, but Andy’s conditioning will be key, if his punches are as sharp fight night like I have seen in the gym, it will be a great fight,” Sanchez said. “I truly think that we have two fighters that want to be champion and do not take a backward step.”
Is the jury out on Ruiz’ fight night stamina if it goes into later rounds? Or it is on point, you are confident in it?
“I am confident that Andy will have consistent stamina for as long as the fight goes, but I am also sure that both guys will tire from a hard, brutal fight.”
Readers, talk to me. Who wins Parker versus Ruiz, and how?