Joseph Parker outpoints Andy Ruiz to win WBO heavyweight title
In a battle of unbeaten heavyweights, highly-touted boxer-puncher Joseph Parker scored a 12-round majority decision over Andy Ruiz to claim the vacant WBO heavyweight title at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. The scores were 115-113 twice with a third judge unable to split the pair at 114-114.
The 24-year-old Parker, THE RING’s No. 6 rated heavyweight, picked up the belt which was vacated by the presently inactive Tyson Fury in October.
“What a dream come true,” said Parker when interviewed by New Zealand television. “We told you guys that Andy Ruiz had a lot of speed and power, but I told you that I would become heavyweight champion of the world and here I am.”
The bout itself was highly competitive when Ruiz forced the home fighter to trade but, for much of the time, the Mexican-American slugger found himself being picked off by crisp punches at long range.
Parker got off to a good start in the opening round but in the second, he was trapped against the ropes and tagged by a sharp cluster of hooks. That danger was always present, and Parker was extremely wary whenever the visitor closed the gap. Ruiz, who is rated No. 10 by THE RING, bossed the fight on the inside but he just couldn’t get there enough.
Parker kept him honest with single, double and triple jabs and occasionally brought over a solid right cross.
By the mid-rounds, Parker had found his rhythm and was becoming more and more efficient with his left hand work. The New Zealander was perhaps guilty of being one-paced but he still managed to keep his distance and Ruiz, despite sporadic success, didn’t have the versatility to permanently change the course of the action.
Ruiz was desperate in the championship rounds and did let his hands go down the stretch but it was too little too late and there were no real complaints about the decision. The victor and his vast army of New Zealand fans were understandably elated but Parker still has plenty of improving to do.
Parker (22-0, 18 knockouts) weighed in officially at 241.75 pounds and Ruiz was 255.75.
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing