Joseph Parker (-400) vs Andy Ruiz Jr (+275), Draw (+3300)
Heavyweight contenders Andy Ruiz Jr. (29-0, 19 KO) and Joseph Parker (21-0, 18 KO) are set to fight for the WBO heavyweight title on Saturday, December 10, at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
The two undefeated heavyweights were given a shot at the title after champion Tyson Fury vacated his title, opening the field to two top-ranked fighters in the division. Parker is the number one ranked boxer in the heavyweight division, while Ruiz is third. Between them is Wladimir Klitschko, who lost his heavyweight title to Fury over a year ago and has not fought since.
Ruiz’s last significant fight was in late 2014 when he edged aging former champion Siarhei Liakhovich. After 10 rounds – which left Ruiz completely gassed – the fight went to the judges, who scored it 98-92, 96-94, 99-91 in Ruiz’s favor. The heavyset boxer has lightning quick hands but is slow around the ring and quick to fatigue. Ruiz is at his best when he’s got his opponent against the ropes or when they stand their ground and trade blows.
That’s not how Parker fights, though. The young Kiwi is nimble, with quick hands as well as quick feet. He relies on his movement and speed as much as he relies on his power. His last twelve fights have been in defense of his WBO Oriental heavyweight title, against a smattering of lowly opponents. Ruiz will be Parker’s first world-class challenge.
Ruiz has also had a lack of serious opponents. Even Liakhovich was 38 years old at the time of their bout. Since then, Ruiz has had five fights, all against easy competition. That means Saturday’s tilt will be a step-up in clas for both fighters, a rare paradigm for a “title” fight.
Parker has homefield advantage, so to speak, fighting in his native New Zealand. He also has a height and reach advantage, as well as superior cardio and stamina. His movement is on another level to Ruiz and, if he can avoid Ruiz’s deadly right hand in the earlier rounds, the fight should be his.
Pick: Joseph Parker (-400)
Photo credit: “Robert Helenius vs Franz Rill 19.12.2015” by Payamongfriends, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.