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Parker, Ruiz humble to the end

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr painted two distinct pictures when they arrived at a downtown Auckland bar on Thursday morning.

Resplendent in a three-piece grey suit, the 24-year-old Kiwi glided into the room, doing the rounds by shaking hands and exchanging small talk.

Ruiz, meanwhile, slinked in sporting a hoodie and tracksuit pants and planted himself on a stool at the back of the bar.

But where the duo's sartorial choices differ, their attitudes concur.

Trash-talk and mind games are hallmarks of the boxing profession, but not for this heavyweight pairing, two days out from the biggest fight of their lives.

Both displayed a quiet ambition as they fronted for their WBO title bout press conference, but were at pains to keep the temperature below boiling point.

Humble to a fault, Parker couldn't find a nasty word for his Mexican-American foe, complimenting his new found fitness, hand speed and experience.

The 27-year-old Ruiz followed suit, admitting he'd have to be on the lookout for Parker's punching power and quick feet.

No insults, no barbs and no low blows.

It was all a little too amicable.

"I have a lot of respect for him, Andy's had more fights than I have, he's been professional longer," Parker said.

"We're both nice guys, we both respect each other, we're both humble, but we know that when we're in the ring, we're going to try and knock each other out."

Having sparred three years ago, each fighter knows the other reasonably well.

On that occasion, Ruiz hit the south Aucklander so hard that he split his mouth open and couldn't eat for three days.

But Parker was confident there wouldn't be a repeat performance in front of an expectant Kiwi public.

History was calling for the son of Samoan immigrants, with the opportunity to become his country's first ever heavyweight champion.

"I'm feeling strong, physically and mentally in the right place," Parker said.

"I love pressure, I accept pressure and when there's pressure, I perform better."

At the end of formalities and the customary stare-down for the cameras, Parker took a moment to introduce Ruiz to mother Sala.

Ever the gentleman, Ruiz exchanged pleasantries with Mrs Parker and posed for photographs with her.

It was a fitting way for the men to go their separate ways, before reuniting to belt each other around a square ring in 48 hours' time.

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