With the heavyweight division up for grabs as 2016 comes to an end, several contenders hope to make a statement with great performances Saturday.
SAN DIEGO, December 9, 2016 – Don’t expect to see friends who are hardcore boxing fans at your holiday parties on Saturday. They have a full day of boxing action to enjoy, starting early with significant bouts in the heavyweight division from New Zealand, and later in the afternoon from the Manchester Arena in England.
Joseph Parker vs. Andy Ruiz, Auckland, New Zealand
Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker (21-0, 18 KOs) has gotten the attention of the boxing world from his distant corner of the planet. Although he now trains in Las Vegas, Parker will end a busy year fighting at home in Auckland. His opponent, Andy Ruiz of Mexico (now living in California’s Imperial Valley) is also undefeated (29-0, 19 KOs) but hasn’t drawn the same sort of attention as Parker.
What the pair have in common In addition to their perfect records and never being knocked down or stopped is the desire to make a statement Saturday. A vacant WBO heavyweight title is on the line, and it propels the winner toward the elite level. Neither man has faced significant opposition, with Parker having the edge. Parker, 24, is favored, but Ruiz, 29, will put Parker to the test. Both men are active in the ring and can punch. Ruiz is surprisingly fast for a heavyweight, despite being the bigger man. Parker is fighting at his top weight as a professional, 246.75 pounds. Ruiz has dropped in weight from his heaviest, weighing in at 255.7 pounds.
“Nothing bad to say but when we get in the ring you’ll see what it’s going to be about. We’re humble but we’re pretty ruthless in there,” said Parker.
“I think December 10th, tomorrow, the whole world is going to see who is the fastest and who’s the better fighter that day,” said Ruiz. “I don’t want to say nothing until I get into the ring.”
“Tune in and you’ll see who is the fastest,” Parker replied.
Ruiz has been working with Abel Sanchez for this bout, but the pair haven’t worked together very long. He will want to press the action and force Parker into a firefight if he can, while somehow avoiding any single lights-out punch. Parker has the home crowd advantage. We expect a closer fight than the oddsmakers do. Whichever man wins, he will be the first heavyweight champion from his country.
This fight will take place at approximately 3 a.m. ET Saturday. A same-day replay will air on HBO Boxing prior to the Crawford vs. Molina bout at 9:45 p.m. ET Saturday.
Anthony Joshua vs. Eric Molina Jr., Manchester, England
The matinee idol of the heavyweight division, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua of Great Britain (17-0, 17 KOs) is more than a pretty face. He’s got the record, the skills, and the charisma in the ring to back up all the hype so far. Joshua is set to face the longtime former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko next April, but he needs to take care of business with American Eric Molina Jr. of Texas first. This is Joshua’s second defense of his IBF heavyweight title.
Klitschko will be in the audience of the sold-out Manchester Arena, and Joshua will want to put on an impressive show. But he can’t forget about the man in the ring. Molina (25-3, 19 KOs) gave fellow American heavyweight Deontay Wilder a significant challenge, wobbling Wilder in the third round before being stopped in the ninth round in their 2015 fight. Molina got up from two knockdowns by Wilder. He is tough and determined.
Joshua can’t allow himself to become frustrated by Molina. He needs to be patience, use his youth and speed to work to the body and use his jab, and only when he’s worn Molina down move in for the kind of conclusion he’s looking for. Joshua weighed in at 249 pounds, Molina at 237.5 pounds.
Dereck Chisora vs. Dilliam Whyte, and Luis Ortiz vs. Dave Allen, Manchester England
There are two additional heavyweight bouts on the undercard worth mentioning. Due to pre-fight drama, the bout between British heavyweights Dereck Chisora (26-6, 18 KOs) and (Dillian Whyte 19-1, 25 KOs) has become a “can’t miss” for fans. The pair nearly staged their fight several days early when Chisora got angry over perceived threats by Whyte and threw a table in Whyte’s direction at the final pre-fight news conference. The British Boxing Board of Control came close to cancelled the fight. Instead, both men have been fined the equivalent of $31,400 U.S. dollars, and there will be no British title on the line as planned. Chisora also has a two-year suspended ban hanging over him. This means one more outburst and the ban will be imposed.
See the mayhem for yourself.
It won’t matter to either Chisora or Whyte. Unlike Parker and Ruiz and Joshua and Molina, these two have a serious dislike for each other, and aren’t shy about saying so. They weighed in separately to avoid any more dust-ups, but it didn’t slow Chisora’s mouth down.
“He’s the donkey and I’m going to be riding him,” Chisora said to Sky Sports. “We’ll bring lightning, thunder and bust this boy up.” Whyte brushed it off, “This guy is a joke,” he said. “People think he’s from WWE, chucking tables. He acted like a real donkey.”
Chisora weighed in at 250.5 pounds, Whyte at 246.5 pounds. Whyte is four years younger at 28 with far less wear and tear on him, but Chisora has experience on his side. Whyte’s only loss is to Joshua. He wants to get back in the heavyweight hunt and he’d love nothing more than to quiet Chisora with his fists. Both men need to forget about the war of words outside the ring and work their plan. If either one gets emotional, it could turn into an ugly brawl which British fans won’t mind.
Also on the undercard, Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz (26-0, 22 KOs) is back in the ring just four weeks after his British debut, an ugly decision over Malik Scott. Matchroom Boxing is keeping “The Real King Kong” busy, and with luck a good performance over local British heavyweight Dave Allen (9-1, 6 KOs). Allen’s most recent fight was a decision loss to Dillian Whyte in ten rounds. Allen has promised he “will not run away” and will not let Ortiz “blow me away.” If Allen is willing to engage, unlike Scott, he will at least win some respect if not the fight.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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