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Arum backs WBO winner to lead division

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/12/2016 Angelo Risso

The winner of Saturday's WBO heavyweight title bout is likely to become the division's pre-eminent force for years to come, says Bob Arum.

The legendary promoter, a former manager of Muhammad Ali, arrived in Auckland on Tuesday ahead of star fighter Andy Ruiz Jr's tussle with Joseph Parker.

Arum, who will turn 85 on Thursday, also signed an agreement with Parker's handlers Duco Events to help promote the Aucklander's fights overseas.

He told reporters his 27-year-old Mexican-American, who has an impressive 29-0 professional record, had the fastest hands on a heavyweight since Ali himself.

And although Parker was clearly the harder pound-for-pound hitter, and also had a strong 21-0 record, nobody could keep up with Ruiz's hand speed.

That may help the 182cm Ruiz nullify his 11cm height disadvantage.

"Parker's not particularly slow but when he throws his punches, it's not with the speed Ruiz has," Arum said.

"Parker has natural skills and he's so big and punches so hard."

A promoter of more than 9000 fights since 1973, Arum's agency Top Rank will help negotiate future US television rights for Parker and split the revenue with Duco.

The Kiwi promoters, who met Arum just two months ago as they arranged Saturday's bout, will then retain the Australian and New Zealand revenue.

Duco director David Higgins said the agency would look to unleash the 24-year-old Parker across Europe, the US and China if victorious on Saturday.

"The key is to first become a star in your home market, so Joseph Parker is a bigger star here, respectfully, than Ruiz in the US," Higgins said.

"The holy grail is to become a pay-per-view star in more than one market."

Now well into his ninth decade, the Las Vegas-based Arum has seen some of history's best heavyweights up close, including Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier.

He was convinced a new generation of heavyweights, including Parker and Ruiz but also reigning IBF champion Anthony Joshua, would keep interest running high.

This would be particularly important as the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, fade into the boxing background.

"Joshua has a lot of ability but you don't know how well he'll react to adversity if he experiences it," Arum said.

"But I'd say Joshua, in the years to come, will be in the mix, so will this kid (Deontay) Wilder from the US.

"The new breed coming up, (there's) some terrific fighters."

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