Parker beats Ruiz to win WBO heavyweight title

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealander Joseph Parker claimed the vacant WBO world heavyweight boxing title on Saturday with a contentious majority points decision against Mexico’s Andy Ruiz.

Two judges called the fight 115-113 in favor of Parker and the third had it 114-114, improving Parker’s career record to 22-0.

Ruiz came into the fight at 29-0 with 19 knockouts and was the more aggressive fighter throughout the 12-round contest. He pushed forward constantly and had the taller and leaner Parker on the back foot.

Parker landed a few late combinations in the fight but at least five of the first six rounds appeared to belong to Ruiz.

The Mexican also had the better of three of the last six rounds.

“What a dream come true,” Parker said. "(Ruiz) showed he was a great fighter.”

Ruiz wants to fight Parker again.

“I think (I) got the win or at least a draw, I think I set the pace with my jab,” Ruiz said. “Maybe we’ll get the rematch.”

Parker weighed in Friday two kilograms heavier than his previous highest fight weight and looked out of condition. In contrast, Ruiz shed a large amount of weight in altitude training and looked fitter than usual but was still heavier than Parker.

Ruiz was the aggressor through the first half of the fight, stalking Parker in the center of the ring, pushing forward and avoiding Parker’s jabs. He scored continuously in the early rounds, showing patience in using his jab, while Parker looked lethargic and struggled to use his left hand to any effect.

Parker tried to lift his effort in the second half of the bout but still seemed ineffective, missing with his jab and mistiming his combinations. He seemed to come into the last round significantly behind and the judges’ decision in favor of Parker was a major surprise.

Parker didn’t appear to have landed any significant blows throughout the fight and showed a passivity that contrasted with Ruiz’s more active style.