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Ruiz keen to prove NZ wrong vs Parker

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Mexican-American fighter Andy Ruiz Jr has accused the Kiwi public of underestimating him ahead of Saturday's title bout with Joseph Parker.

The 27-year-old Ruiz, once as heavy as 130kg, has lost almost 16kg in his six-and-a-half-week pre-fight preparation with trainer Abel Sanchez.

Like Kiwi local Parker, Ruiz is aiming to go down in history by becoming the first person from his country to win a heavyweight world title.

He told reporters on Thursday he felt observers had written him off before the fight even took place, and had dismissed him for his stocky appearance.

That disdain would motivate him to lift the WBO belt this weekend.

"I didn't come all the way over to New Zealand to lose or anything like that, I came to do my best," Ruiz said.

"A lot of people are underestimating me, the way I look or how I am, but imagine how good I was when I was out of shape, and when I'm in shape now."

Parker, for his part, strongly denied he or trainer Kevin Barry were following suit by underrating Ruiz.

The California-based fighter was in top shape, had quick hands and was one of the most dangerous opponents Parker had encountered.

The pair had earlier sparred together in 2013, a meeting that left the 24-year-old Parker unable to eat for three days.

"Andy's had more fights than I have, he's been a professional longer, so there's nothing bad I can say about him," Parker said.

"There's going to be fireworks, we're both young and hungry fighters going out to do our best."

Barry complimented Sanchez's work in getting Ruiz into shape for the fight, saying the 17-time world champion trainer instilled confidence in his fighters.

But Parker was in the best shape of his life and mentally primed for victory.

"The Joseph Parker I've seen in the last two weeks since arriving here in Auckland has been as good as I've ever seen," Barry said.

"My challenge to Joe is to produce a career-defining performance on Saturday, and if he does that, we'll win the world title."

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