Lupesoliai Laauliolemalietoa Joseph Parker is ready.
And so is his opponent Andy Ruiz Jr. It’s only now a matter of time before the two trade blows for the world heavyweight title.
The contenders came face to face for the first time in Auckland yesterday. Both were oozing confidence 48hours away from the biggest fight of their young careers tomorrow night.
Ruiz’s coach, Abel Sanchez, was first to kick off proceedings.
“It’s a historical fight for both guys, for both countries. It will be the first champion out of NZ, and the first heavyweight champion out of Mexico,” he said.
Sanchez is very impressed with Auckland City and New Zealanders.
“The hospitality here has been great. The fans on the street have stopped us to wish us well. Obviously they’re going for Joseph but they wish us a good fight.”
Ruiz promoter, Bob “The Godfather” Bob Arum is confident of Sanchez’s work with Ruiz.
“Abel is on the run now. His fighter has just won the WBO Cruiserweight championship of the world in the weekend in Mexico.”
“He tells me that Andy is in sensational shape. It looks like Abel is going to train another world champion in Andy Ruiz.”
Parker’s trainer, Kevin Barry is all too aware of Abel Sanchez’s accreditations.
“I know Abel is a tremendous trainer, and all his fights come in tremendous shape and that confidence rubs off on his fighters. We have been working very hard to break Sanchez’s success.”
Then he went on with one of those great Kevin Barry anthologies on his fighter.
“This is an epic event of great historical value, where two hungry young fighters are trying to cement their place in the history of their countries,” he said.
“Joe understands the privilege that he has to be a part of history. I think more than anything else in this fight that gives him the drive, the motivation and the determination to be the very best that Joseph Parker can be on Saturday night.
“We have prepared well. There are no excuses. The Joseph Parker that I have seen in the last two weeks since arriving here in Auckland has been as good as I have ever seen.
“My challenge to Joseph is to produce a career defining performance on Saturday night. And if he does that, he will win the world title.”
Andy Ruiz was first of the fighters to take the stage. He seems affected by the bywords around the way he looks and his weight.
“It feels good to be here. I thank God for everything he has done for me. This is my chance. I didn’t come here all the way to NZ to lose,” he said.
“There is nothing bad I can say ab out Joseph Parker. We have both trained hard for this fight. A lot of people have underestimated me for this fight, the way I look, how I am. I was out of shape, I am in the best shape now, so there’s going to be a lot of fireworks.
“On Dec 10 I am going to take that belt back to Mexico and to the United States.”
Barry was quick to assure Ruiz that his team is not underestimating him.
Ruiz continues, “I know a lot of people here are. That gives me a lot of motivation.”
Lupesoliai was absorbed in the moment.
“What can I say? December 10 is not far now, just two nights. Our team is very excited to be involved in this event the WBO Heavyweight Championship on the world.
“I am not underestimating Andy Ruiz. He’s a very dangerous fighter, he’s in great shape. We’ve been doing our own work analysing what his strengths and weaknesses are.”
“On Dec 10 (both fighters are fixated with mentioned the exact date) there’s going to be a lot of fireworks. We are both young and hungry fighters. He wants to take the belt to Mexico I want to keep the belt here. I will do everything to win this belt and win this fight, and win it well.”
Parker likewise had all the admiration for Ruiz. But he cautions.
“We like each other. He’s a good guy and I’m a good guy. But come Dec 10, and we’re in that ring we’re going to be trying to knock each other out.”
During a one on one interview with the “The Godfather,”he was asked about a lot of respect in the room between the fighters and the camps.
“It is good that way, you don’t have to act uncivilised or trash talk each other to have a great fight,” he said.
“It’s my experience in boxing that when the fighters respect each other and they handle each other politely at the Press Conferences and other events prior to the fight. Then all the aggressiveness goes to where it belongs in the ring, and you get a tremendous fight.
“When there’s a lot of trash talking outside of the ring, when they get to the ring, it is not much of a fight.”
On what Andy Ruiz brings to the fight, “We’ve promoted all of his 29 fights. He’s fearless, he’s fast and he can take a punch. He has the fastest hands of any heavyweight since Muhammad Ali.
“There’s a gift to be able to throw punches accurately and then punch as fast as he does. That gives him the greatest advantage over most heavyweights who do not throw punches that fast.
“Joe counters that, he is one of the hardest hitting heavyweights around. If he can work through the barrage of punches Andy is throwing and yet land his own punches and land them on the mark that is very bad for Andy because Joe is capable of knocking out his opponent with one or two punches.”
Arum would not pick a winner.
“It’s hard to pick a winner, and they’re going to have to win the fight on their own without necessarily negating the strength of their opponent on Saturday night.”