By Huck Allen: Joseph Parker and his manager David Higgins are targeting Andy Ruiz Jr. for a rematch next. Parker beat Ruiz by a close 12 round majority decision in December 2016 in New Zealand, so there’s the revenge factor that would make this fight an interesting one for boxing fans.
Former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) needs a victory over a highly ranked fighter like Parker to improve his position to challenge for a world title. So who better for Ruiz to fight than #3 WBO, #4 IBF, #5 WBC Joseph Parker?
Parker, 29, impressed fans recently with his 12 round unanimous decision win over Dereck Chisora in their rematch last month on December 18th in Manchester, England.
The performance from Parker showed that he’s made huge improvements in his game and is better than he was earlier in his career when he held the WBO heavyweight title.
Parker’s hand speed and power are as good as ever, but he’s added an uppercut that he throws with lethal force. He dropped Chisora with that shot three times in their fight at the Manchester Arena and had him close to being stopped each time.
Why Parker won’t fight Filip Hrgovic
According to Higgins, Parker (30-2, 21 KOs) has an injured eardrum and elbow that prevents him from fighting unbeaten Filip Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) in an IBF title eliminator.
Also, Higgins says the money that Parker would have gotten to fight Hrgovic would be pretty low, barely enough to cover the training costs. Hrgovic hasn’t built up a fanbase ANYWHERE, says Higgins, so that’s another disincentive to making a Parker-Hrgovic fight.
Finally, even if Parker beats Hrgovic, he would be behind the other mandatories that are due from the WBA, WBC, and WBO, meaning he would be waiting potentially a long, long time before he finally gets a crack at the IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk.
“Joseph Parker has elbow trouble,” said David Higgins to Sky Sports. “There is an economic problem with Filip Hrgovic.
“There is an economic problem with Hrgovic,” Higgins continued. “Does Hrgovic have a home fan base anywhere? He has attained a high ranking but has no fan base, so the money on offer is laughable for somebody like Parker.
“Also, this fight is at the back of the eliminator queue because the other belts must be sorted out.
“So Parker could fight Hrgovic for a payday that would barely cover his training costs, win, then sit out for a year waiting for his shot.”
Parker fighting Andy Ruiz = a Better option
There’s no question that a rematch between Parker and Ruiz would be the far better move for Joseph than putting energy into an IBF title eliminator with the little-known Hrgovic. The hardcore boxing fans know who Hrgovic is worldwide, but not the casuals.
“A rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr would be fantastic,” said Higgins.
Getting Ruiz to accept the fight with Parker might be a problem, though, because he’s not been all that active since being dethroned by Anthony Joshua in December 2019.
In the two-plus years since Ruiz’s loss to Joshua, he’s fought only ONCE, beating 40-year-old Chris Arreola by an unimpressive 12 round unanimous decision in May 2021.
Assuming Ruiz’s management is putting him in a holding pattern, waiting for him to be given a title shot against the last man standing in this year’s heavyweight title unification fights, he’s NOT going to entertain a rematch with Parker.
All the weight that Ruiz, 32, has taken off in the last two years since taking on Eddy Reynoso as his trainer has negatively impacted his punching power, and it seems to have diminished his punch resistance as well.
If Arreola was a little younger, he might have knocked Ruiz out last May after dropping him in the second round. Parker hits just as hard as Arreola, but he’s capable of putting his shots together better, and he would be trouble for Ruiz.