Scorecard: Parker vs Ruiz
Luke G. Williams
To the delight of New Zealand, Joseph Parker has become the first boxer born in the country to win a portion of the heavyweight championship, eking out a narrow points decision after twelve intriguing rounds against Mexican-American Andy Ruiz in Auckland. Here is how Luke G. Williams scored the contest for Boxing Monthly online...
Round 1: After no less than four national anthems and some energetic ring announcing, Parker and Ruiz finally make their way to the ring and the contest begins! Both men initially look like they mean business but Ruiz forces the pace a bit more for me with some neat boxing skills. Parker struggles to get his jab going. 10-9 Ruiz
Round 2: Ruiz continues to do well, making Parker look uncomfortable at times with jabs and hooks to the body and backing him up. 10-9 Ruiz
Round 3: Ruiz continues to look the sharper of the pair. Parker is often on the back foot, his left held low and not landing enough scoring shots. Clever stuff from Ruiz, who also lands a good left hook. 10-9 Ruiz
Round 4: After sweeping the first three rounds, Ruiz seems to take a breather. I edge this round to Parker, whose jab proves a little more effective. 10-9 Parker
Round 5: Improved Parker body language as Ruiz's work rate drops and the Kiwi-Samoan appears to be warming up. Some good sharp jabs edge him another round as he claws his way back into the fight. 10-9 Parker
Round 6: Some of these rounds are fiendish to score. When up close Ruiz gets the better of things, and if he pressured Parker more you feel he would be comfortably ahead, but his activity rate is not high enough. Parker sneaks another round with jabs and ring generalship. I've now got it three rounds apiece. 10-9 Parker
Round 7: Parker seems to land the heavier blows in another tight round. Ruiz has a cut above his right eye and is not as active as in the early rounds of the fight. Parker has edged one point up on my card. 10-9 Parker
Round 8: Ruiz with some clever counters and work inside restores parity. 10-9 Ruiz
Round 9: Parker edges another round with slightly superior work. I would love to know how the judges are seeing it - many of these rounds very tight. Parker better at distance, Ruiz superior close in. Neither man is dominating and although it is fascinating, the fight is yet to properly catch fire. 10-9 Parker
Round 10: Both men land some good clean shots. However when Ruiz is inside he looks the sharper and takes the round for me... just! I have it five rounds each - inevitable controversy when we reach the scorecards I feel! 10-9 Ruiz
Round 11: Such a tight round. Parker lands a good hook at the end of round to nick it. I have him one round up going into the last. 10-9 Parker
Round 12: Both men look tired. Parker has re-established his control of the ring though for me and shades it. 10-9 Parker
Verdict: An absorbing rather than thrilling contest. If Ruiz had been more active he might have even snatched it. Parker fought conservatively but did what he needed to do, edging tight rounds when it mattered. The heavyweight scene is certainly interesting right now - my hunch is that Parker would not have enough firepower to withstand, say, Anthony Joshua, but having said that he has come through tougher tests than the Englishman has yet faced. Throw Klitschko and Wilder into the heavyweight mix as well - and possibly a returning Tyson Fury at some point - and there should be some fascinating fights on the horizon. Let's not discount Andy Ruiz either - he showed some neat skills tonight and if he can continue to improve his conditioning he could be a danger man.
(Judges' scores 114-114, and 115-113 twice to Parker. BM online also had it 115-113 to Parker).