Sports

Barbs, Bitterness and Burger King: Reviewing the Fallout from Joseph Parker's WBO Heavyweight Championship Bout

Insults have been flying since Kiwi boxer Joseph Parker beat Andy Ruiz Jr to win the WBO Heavyweight title on Saturday.
December 12, 2016, 6:45pm
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While it was pretty damn far from an exciting boxing bout, just enough punches were thrown in the ring at Auckland's Vector Arena last Saturday night for someone to be named the winner.

Just after midnight though, referee Tony Weeks grabbed Joseph Parker's left hand and raised it up, as the Kiwi boxer was named the new WBO heavyweight champion of the world.

His opponent Andy Ruiz Jr sunk off the side. Parker's corner crew mobbed him. Kevin Barry, his Las Vegas-based trainer, swung his arms around the 24-year-old.

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The shots that have been fired at Parker - the first Kiwi heavyweight to claim a world title since 1899 - since his victory have been more constant and even just as convincing as those Ruiz Jr threw Parker's way in Auckland.

Highlights of the Joseph Parker vs Andy Ruiz Jr heavyweight fight in Auckland on Saturday. Source: HBO Boxing/Youtube.

"I'm embarrassed being a Kiwi after last night," famed Kiwi boxing referee Lance Revill told Radiosport, the day after.

"I'm a great friend of Joseph Parker, he's been to my gym a number of times, he's sparred with my heavyweights when he was an amateur. I've got a lot of time for him. I'm afraid to say that he didn't win the fight last night. Ruiz cleaned him out."

"Something stinks about this fight, something stinks about the whole set-up," Revill, also the head of the NZ Professional Boxing Association, said.

"There wasn't a bad word said about Joseph Parker. The whole press is on his side, he's been given a dream ride right through."

Also speaking with Radiosport, controversial New Zealand boxing identity Sir Bob Jones labelled Parker's WBO belt as a "bogus title" and described the Kiwi's effort in the ring as "disappointing."

FROM BOB TO JOE: NEW ZEALAND HAS ITS FIRST HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPION SINCE 1899

"I personally thought [Parker] probably got edged," Sir Bob said.

"He was just woefully bad in the opening rounds. It wasn't until half way through he got into the bout. It was a disappointing performance and that's why he needs to fight a lot more people to one day perhaps become genuinely the world heavyweight champion. But he is not the world heavyweight champion."

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Unsurprisingly, Parker's promoter David Higgins, of Duco Events, swung straight back at both Revill and Sir Bob following the remarks. Calling Revill's comments "crap", he then lined up Sir Bob's assessment of Parker's victory.

"The only thing bogus is Bob Jones' logic," Higgins told the New Zealand Herald.

"Bob should think about this - how do you unify the belts without winning this one?"

Joseph Parker sparring with his controversial trainer Kevin Barry, prior to his fight against Andy Ruiz Jr. Source: Youtube.

Though he's got some obvious talent, Parker is pretty far from unifying those belts. The Kiwi is now ranked fifth best heavyweight by BoxRec and sixth best by The Ring, but isn't anywhere near the class of Brit Anthony Joshua (the IBF title holder) or American Deontay Wilder (the WBC champion), yet.

It could be argued that 40-year-old Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko - who fights Joshua next April - is also still a clear superior. Disgraced ex-world champion Tyson Fury labelled the current crop of heavyweight champs as "bums" only hours after Parker's win.

While it was eventually an incredibly tight fight that either boxer could have won, Revill's comments about Kiwi media coverage of Parker rings very true.

Throughout the fight build-up as well as after the bout at Vector Arena, Parker enjoyed a level of breathless, rarely critical reportage not often seen in New Zealand.

Congratulations Joseph Parker! — nzherald (@nzherald)December 10, 2016

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Duco regularly help sponsor Kiwi sports journalists to travel around the world to watch the Kiwi heavyweight train and fight, helping foster constantly good P.R about their fighter.

Few can deny that Parker is one of the most clean-cut, likable figures in Kiwi sport, but Duco have long been pulling a move straight out of the Tex Rickard playbook. As a result, the New Zealand public have been given little context to Parker's actual achievements and career trajectory.

Sir Bob, perhaps, sums up Saturday's fight, and the confusion of the belt system, best when he compared it to Kiwi provincial rugby.

"It would be like the Rugby Union saying 'look, we won't bother with a provincial championship this year- we'll anoint South Canterbury to play Wairarapa Bush for the title and to hell with Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland'.

While no one in New Zealand seems to be able to agree about what Parker's victory in the ring over the weekend actually meant, one thing is for certain: the nation is now fatter because of it.

As a result of Parker's victory, Burger King - a major sponsor of the boxer - announced they would sell Whopper burgers for just NZ$2 between 11am and 5pm Sunday. Whoppers usually sell for NZ$6.55.

Thanks — Hilary Barry (@Hilary_Barry)December 11, 2016

Around 137,000 Whoppers were sold, at a rate of around once every 4.89 seconds. With each Whopper netting 630 calories, New Zealand gobbled up a frightful total of 86.31 million calories on Sunday.

Have it your way, New Zealand.