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By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.

Sun, 11 Dec 2016

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - The big fight atmosphere was palpable the moment I got out of the airport. The cab driver who picked me up asked me about my thoughts about the fight.

The car radio played highlights of quotes from Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz during their press conference. The prospect of witnessing two hard hitting unbeaten heavyweights in action made me think of all the classic fights that I saw with my grandfather and father as a child. They influenced me to become a boxing fan.

When I turned on the television in my hotel room, Joseph Parker was being interviewed by a local sports channel. ?The pressure on the hometown boy must be enormous,? I thought.

Both Ruiz and Parker were civil during the weigh-in. They were calm but for those who witnessed the event, the idea of who would land first made us salivate.

The fight was tense. Both tasted each other?s power early, Ruiz seemed to have a slight edge but past the half way mark, Parker?s jab and lateral movement made him win rounds.

Both landed their share of left hooks and over hand rights. But Parker?s body punching paid off in the later rounds, Ruiz still had a second wind and his continuing aggression had the home fans inside the Vector Arena sitting on pins and needles. But they yelled themselves hoarse for Parker till the final bell.

The scores underscored the drama of the fight ? Salven Lagumbay ? 114-114, Ingo Barrabas and Ramon Pascual Cerdan ? 115-113 for the new WBO Heavyweight world champion, Joseph Parker.

The buzz about a rematch started immediately after the fight.

The fight was a classy, black tie affair at ringside with fans treated with juicy salmon and steaks. In attendance was Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. The arena was packed, I don?t think there was an empty seat in the house.

There were three other WBO belts at stake ? Jeff Horn of Australia decked South African Ali Funeka twice in the sixth to prevail by TKO and retain his WBO Intercontinental welterweight title, Isaac Dogboe of Ghana was impressive in his seventh round TKO victory over Argentine Julian Aristule and in the distaff side, Aussie Shannon O?Connell beat Laura Griffa of Argentina by unanimous verdict in another entertaining bout for the vacant WBO Asia Paicifc female super bantamweight title.

Undercards ? Junior Fa WTKOA Pablo Magrini with a body punch, John Parker WUD 4 Ashley McConville and Brown Butterbean stopped Che Barlow in four rounds.

Auckland's Joseph Parker celebrates after winning the WBO heavyweight title by majority decision over erstwhile undefeated Andy Ruiz of the United States Saturday night in Auckland, New Zealand.

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