Joseph Parker became New Zealand’s first ever heavyweight world champion today, defeating Andy Ruiz Jr by majority decision to claim the vacant WBO title in Auckland.
Parker (22-0, 18 KO) won on scores of 114-114, 115-113, and 115-113, all fair and reasonable from the judges. BLH had the fight 114-114.
Ruiz (29-1, 19 KO) is going to be kicking himself, most likely, for not doing a bit more in the middle rounds, especially, after a solid start where he won at least two of the first three rounds. But rounds four through seven belonged to Parker, as he adjusted to Ruiz’s game, before Ruiz got himself going a bit again in the eighth.
The final four rounds were nip-and-tuck, as was the fight on the whole, but in the end, it was Parker coming out just ahead of Ruiz, a fair enough decision.
Parker is now due to face mandatory challenger Hughie Fury (20-0, 10 KO) within 120 days.
In a fun, somewhat chaotic fight, Australian welterweight prospect Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11 KO) stopped South African veteran Ali Funeka (39-6-3, 31 KO) in the sixth round, keeping whatever delusional hope there is of a fight with Manny Pacquiao alive. Horn was dropped in the third round, but came back to put Funeka down in the fifth and sixth.
Ghana’s Isaac Dogboe improved to 16-0 (10 KO) with a seventh round TKO of Argentina’s Julian Aristule (32-7, 16 KO). Dogboe, a 22-year-old super bantamweight prospect, looked sharp in the win, his first time fighting in New Zealand after previous bouts in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and of course at home in Ghana. He’s short for the division at 5’2”, but has some real skills.