New Zealand is the site of the WBO world heavyweight title fight between Joseph Parker (21-0) and Andy Ruiz Jr (29-0). The belt is currently vacant as former titleholder Tyson Fury dropped the belt earlier this year, and Parker sits ranked #1 by the WBO and Ruiz Jr sits #3. The #2 ranked fighter is former champion Wladimir Klitschko, but the Parker vs Ruiz Jr match materialized when Klitschko declared himself out until at least April of 2017 with an injury. This match pits a pair of young, undefeated fighters for a world title. With Parker at just 24 years old and Ruiz Jr at 27, both men figure to be in the game for the next decade at least, so the match definitely is a sign towards the future in boxing’s glamour division. Parker is going to be playing host as a native of New Zealand, and he will walk into the fight favored. Parker was discovered early on in his boxing career by veteran Kevin Barry, who is remembered for winning a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics after getting by Evander Holyfield by disaulification and for training heavyweight wrecking ball David Tua. Barry is a lifer in boxing and Parker has been guided from the start with thoughts of a world championship. Parker has come along quickly and he is the youngest of heavyweight boxing’s up and coming talent. In Ruiz Jr however, he is facing a fighter who has some solid work under his belt. Ruiz Jr has a chubby body type and he has made it worse by not taking care of himself and putting in the work, but he brings a good amount of skill with him to the ring. In 2015 Ruiz Jr was almost written off as he cancelled fights due to a lack of training, but he returned in 2016 to go 3-0, logging 3 fights in six months a re-dedicating himself to gym and road work. Whether all that is enough for Ruiz Jr to offset some of the physical advantages Parker has remains to be seen. The man in a good position here is going to be Wladimir Klitschko. At 41, he is looking to re-capture a world title as he nears the end of his career and a match with ENngland’s IBF champion Anthony Joshua could be huge. Despite that, Klitschko is used to getting his way and he may chafe at playing second fiddle to Joshua. As the number two ranked fighter sandwiched between Ruiz Jr and Parker, Klitschko could opt to fight the winner of this Saturday’s fight. In either case, Klitschko would host in Germany against either Ruiz Jr or Parker. Vector Arena – Auckland, New Zealand Heavyweight 12 rounds – Andy Ruiz Jr +290 Joseph Parker -380
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