​Boxing: Parker delivers second round KO

By Paul Lewis

New Zealand's Joseph Parker announced his arrival in the ranks of respected heavyweights last night with a second round knockout which pitched durable South African heavyweight Francois Botha into retirement.After the fight, Botha acknowledged that his 62-fight, 23-year career was over - though he is not quite done with boxing yet.He has exhibition fights planned with former world champions Evander Holyfield (in Tanzania) and Mike Tyson (in the Congo) to raise money for children's charity and said last night that the Parker fight would be his last competitive effort."He [Parker] proved it tonight," said Botha when asked if Parker was a better boxer than Sonny Bill Williams, who defeated Botha in controversial circumstances in their fight recently. "He is much, much better and he has a really good future. You know, if I was going to keep boxing, I had to beat Sonny Bill and I had to beat Baby Joseph - but he retired me instead.

"Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Parker was his ice-cold calm when he arrived in the ring last night. There were no obvious signs of nerves or stress, unusual in a 21-year-old and Parker put it down to Team Parker and his mates picking on an unusual way to prepare for a fight: "We just put some music on and did some dancing. It's a really good way to prepare for a fight and I found it made me relaxed and happy. I was a bit nervous about not being nervous but it was a good result."Trainer Kevin Barry, delighted with the outcome, said: "He was so calm and composed and in the dressing room, he was listening to me and focusing and staying cool and staying with the game plan and, when you see that in a 21-year-old, you know you are seeing maturity beyond his years. I thought it was a tremendous performance." Most had picked Parker to win, courtesy of his long reach and handspeed, but that prediction came with the caveat that he would be unlikely to knock out the tough Botha, who has footed it with some of the world's great heavyweights in a long career.That's how it looked after a largely quiet first round where Parker was still finding his range and the wily Botha was slipping punches, leaning back, with clever head movement.

That all changed in the second round. Botha came on strongly for a time but one flashing combination showed Parker's danger and speed. When he caught Botha with a right hand, the 44-year-old wobbled and Parker launched a blistering attack which ended only when the referee called matters off.It was a fine, if brief, display by Parker which demonstrated all the potential he has, beginning a professional career which is beginning to flower just as New Zealand's best known heavyweight, David Tua, is on the comeback trail. Tua would love to have the speed of Parker's punches and Parker has definitely put down a marker. The next boxers approached to take him on will look at him carefully.The night had started well for the Botha family, with Francois' son Marcel, 23, making his professional debut against Jeremy Sebastian, brother of Australian singer Guy, in their welterweight clash over four rounds. Sebastian probably won the first round but Botha started to find his range in the second and third rounds and won a unanimous points decision, egged on by father Francois from the sidelines.

Celebrities from the world of sport and media were among the crowd of about 2000 at the black tie dinner at Trusts Arena. On the guest list were former Warriors stalwarts Monty Betham and Wairangi Koopu, Millie Holmes, former All Black and Blues captain Ali Williams, team-mate Anthony Boric, Australian underworld celebrity Mick Gatto, Teulia Blakely, TV's Shortland Street actors Benjamin Mitchell and Pua Magasiva, Laura McGoldrick and Gretchen Hawkesby. There was also a large representation from radio, there to see the The Rock v Mai FM clash between Bryce Casey and Nickson Clark.Gatto, a former top-line boxer, was acquitted by a Supreme Court jury of the 2004 murder of a Melbourne hitman. Last year, he survived a A$10 million tax bill to sit ringside with some of Melbourne gangland's biggest names at Shane Cameron's bout against Danny Green.

​He also drew criticism last month after it was revealed he had won a boxing licence allowing him to stage bouts in Victoria. Victorian premier, Dr Denis Napthine, said he didn't want Gatto running boxing events in his state.Fight For Life promoters - Duco Events, who staged last night's bout - had been hopeful of persuading Gatto into the ring at some stage and maybe that prospect was a little closer with the appearance of Gatto last night, though the word is that Gatto's 57-year-old knees may preclude a comeback, even for Fight For Life.On the undercard, Australian late call-up Arlene Blencowe surprised by beating 40-year-old former world champion Daniella Smith for the vacant women's WIBA light welterweight world crown. The surprise extended to Blencowe herself who made a tearful speech of thanks at the bout's end, only her third fight. RESULTS: On the undercard, the bouts were decided as follows:- ​Marcel Botha (South Africa) defeated Jeremy Sebastian (Australia) - welterweight, unanimous decision.- Sam Rapira (NZ) defeated Viliami Taofi (Tonga) - light heavyweight, referee stopped contest, rd 1.- Daniella Smith (NZ) lost to Arlene Blencoe (Australia) - women's WIBA light welterweight world title, unanimous decision.- Bryce Casey (The Rock) defeated Nickson Clark (Mai FM), unanimous decision.- Jordan Tuigamala (NZ) defeated Joey Allen (NZ) - super middleweight, unanimous decision.- Colin Lane lost to Matthew Wood (dwarf boxing) - unanimous decision ​- Herald on Sunday

Parker upbeat about Vegas training benefit


      Rising Kiwi heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker has trumpeted his recent two-month Las Vegas training camp as the "best experience" of his young career - less than a week out from his bout with South African Francois Botha. Parker arrived back in New Zealand late on Friday evening from Nevada, where he has been training with David Tua's former manager, Kevin Barry.

During the training period, when Parker lived with the Vegas-based Barry and his family, the hard-hitting South Aucklander fought fellow Kiwi Brice Ritani-Coe over six rounds. Parker was beaming about the experience when Sunday News spoke to him in Auckland yesterday, saying it "opened his eyes" to top-level boxing.   

      "It's the best training that I've got, boxing-wise," Parker said."It's the best sparring I've ever done, too. Sparring with guys who are on a world level gave me a real feel of where I was.

"It's been really important - I'm just so grateful I was able to go there. It has opened my eyes to see more of boxing."I was comfortable at home, training and staying around family, but going away helped me mentally. Being away from family, it's hard at times, but you've just got to dig deep. It's really opened my eyes to a whole new level of boxing - and life." Barry said he was impressed with Parker's progress as a fighter over the past two weeks. However, he said he saw the training fight against Ritani-Coe as a crucial test for the youngster - one he would pass with flying colours. Ritani-Coe is of a similar build to Botha, and mimicked some of Botha's techniques during their training bout.

"We've accomplished a lot in eight weeks," Barry said. "It was always going to be a very big job from day one. We had a lot to achieve."The really important thing for me was getting that fight after the first four weeks to see the changes I'd made to his style, if he could actually take that to a real fight situation.

"He came through superbly well. And now . . . we've taken it up another notch since the Ritani-Coe fight.   

Parker To Train With Kevin Barry For Botha Bout

By: Boxing Clever

Former Olympic Games silver medalist and manager of David Tua. Kevin Barry is to take over the training of top New Zealand heavyweight boxing prospect Joseph Parker.Parker is due to fly to Las Vegas on April 14 to prepare for his fight against Francois Botha there.

Parker will live in Las Vegas with Barry and his family while Barry, the light-heavyweight silver medalist in Los Angeles in 1984, will arrange top professionals to spar with Parker to ensure he is in his best fighting shape for the June 13 contest to be fought over eight three-minute rounds.On Barry's books at the moment is world light heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan. He managed Tua from 1992-2003, training him for the last three years of that time.Parker's previous trainer was Lee Parore. 

David Tua's ex-trainer to mentor Joseph Parker

​By: Elliot Smith

 David Tua's ex-trainer Kevin Barry will mentor young Kiwi Joseph Parker ahead of his June bout with South African Francois Botha. Barry has been signed on by promotions company Duco Events to mentor Parker ahead of the fight.

He will take Parker through an eight week camp in Las Vegas ahead of the bout. Barry says he was pleasantly surprised by Parker's skills and attributes when they first met earlier this week. His first focus is to improve his punching power. He says Parker is a raw boxer, but has good tools and is the best prospect New Zealand boxing has produced since David Tua.

Parker upbeat about Vegas training benefits

Rising Kiwi heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker has trumpeted his recent two-month Las Vegas training camp as the "best experience" of his young career - less than a week out from his bout with South African Francois Botha.Parker arrived back in New Zealand late on Friday evening from Nevada, where he has been training with David Tua's former manager, Kevin Barry.During the training period, when Parker lived with the Vegas-based Barry and his family, the hard-hitting South Aucklander fought fellow Kiwi Brice Ritani-Coe over six rounds. 

Parker was beaming about the experience when Sunday News spoke to him in Auckland yesterday, saying it "opened his eyes" to top-level boxing."It's the best training that I've got, boxing-wise," Parker said."It's the best sparring I've ever done, too. Sparring with guys who are on a world level gave me a real feel of where I was."It's been really important - I'm just so grateful I was able to go there. It has opened my eyes to see more of boxing."I was comfortable at home, training and staying around family, but going away helped me mentally. Being away from family, it's hard at times, but you've just got to dig deep.

It's really opened my eyes to a whole new level of boxing - and life." Barry said he was impressed with Parker's progress as a fighter over the past two weeks. However, he said he saw the training fight against Ritani-Coe as a crucial test for the youngster - one he would pass with flying colours. Ritani-Coe is of a similar build to Botha, and mimicked some of Botha's techniques during their training bout."We've accomplished a lot in eight weeks," Barry said. "It was always going to be a very big job from day one. We had a lot to achieve."The really important thing for me was getting that fight after the first four weeks to see the changes I'd made to his style, if he could actually take that to a real fight situation."He came through superbly well. And now . . . we've taken it up another notch since the Ritani-Coe fight.

"I'm really confident of a really strong performance against Botha. I think he is a very special young man." Barry described Parker as a trainer's dream, talking up the 21-year-old's maturity and eagerness to learn."When I tell him to go out and do something, he'll go straight out and do it," the 1988 Olympic silver boxing medallist said.Parker fights Botha at The Trusts Arena in Auckland on Thursday.

​- © Fairfax NZ News

Botha meets five fight novice in New Zealand
By Ron Jackson

Former IBF heavyweight champion the 44-year-old Francois Botha faces a novice in 21-year-old Joseph Parker from New Zealand over eight rounds at the Trusts Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday night. On paper this is more like a circus event rather a boxing match as Botha who has been fighting as a professional for more than 22 years, made his pro debut before Parker was born.Parker has only had five fights as a professional against Dean Garmonsway (2-1), Terry Tuteru (0-9-1), Richard Tutaki (20-22-1), Dontay Pati (0-1) and Brice Ritani-Coe (pts 6), winning four of the five inside the distance.I doubt if there are many boxing fans out there who have ever heard of the aforementioned opponents. 

Botha made his pro debut on February 11, 1990 against Johan van Zyl and won on a first round knockout. In an illustrious career Botha who has a record of 48-9-3-1nc; 28 has been with some of the best heavyweights in the world.Even though he has only won one of his last six fights since April 2010 and is well past his best he still has enough skills to survive in the ring and knows all the tricks of the trade.Botha has power in his right hand and staying power as he showed against the super fit All Black rugby player Sonny Bill Williams in February this year when he had Williams holding to survive in the tenth and final round.

It has been reported that Parker was a good amateur but there is a vast difference professional boxing and amateur boxing.Botha has gone through 360 rounds in the pro ring whereas Parker has only 13, and the only thing in his favour will be his youth.Before Botha gloves up he will be watching his son Marcel who is making his pro debut taking on Australian welterweight Jeremy Sebastian 0-1 over 4 rounds in the first fight of the night.

Time for Joseph Parker to come of age


Three days before they meet in the ring, two boxers came together today. In an up-market Auckland bar, they fielded press conference questions and stood for photographers' snapping lenses, fists raised. They stood in the usual circus that surrounds top level bouts these days: two fighters on completely different career trajectories.One is Joseph Parker. Let's call him The Kid.Ask anyone who knows anything about boxing, and they'll tell you this 21-year-old is a real talent.In his five pro fights so far each one's been won by knock-out. There's speed in his wrists, and a maturity to his game that hints that special things are ahead for the former South Auckland amateur.

When asked questions, The Kid speaks with a true Kiwi respect and gratefulness - "thank you everyone for coming to my press conference today."He's just returned from two months in Las Vegas where long-time Kiwi boxing identity, and former David Tua manager, Kevin Barry has "transformed" him as a fighter.Barry and Parker trained three times a day for a large percentage of the camp, with The Kid staying with the Sin City-based trainer during his down-time.Barry told Fairfax Media on the weekend that he'd never met a young boxer with such a maturity and eagerness to learn."He's a sponge," Barry said. 

"He just eats up everything I tell him. I've never met someone, at such an early stage of their career, so willing to learn and listen."We're all familiar with Parker's opponent at West Auckland's Trusts Stadium on Thursday night.Francois Botha. That out-spoken South African who fought Sonny Bill Williams. The White Buffalo.In a sport filled with caricatures, Botha, 44, is one of the better ones going - at least in our part of the world.The big South African, decked out in his trademark fake leopard skin shoes, made sure his presence was felt in the room."Here's the Buffalo," he bellowed. "Be afraid, Baby Joseph."As soon as it was his chance to speak, without interruption, the Buffalo was at his best. Well, his third-person best. "Mentally, the Buffalo is strong," he said. "They [promoters Duco Events] have tried everything. They've tried everything to get the Buffalo to do this and that. "They tried to give me wine, tequila. But let me tell you Buffalo is strong. Buffalo gets stronger."Asked about his younger opponent, the Buffalo continued with chest-puffed-out arrogance: "Let me tell you something. When a fighter goes against a heavy bag, he looks like a million dollars."He's fast - boom, boom, boom.

Once you put him in front of somebody, then it changes the whole story."That won't happen on Thursday. The Kid should absolutely deal to The Buffalo. Sure, Botha has gone five rounds with Mike Tyson. Yea, he's been in the ring with Lennox Lewis. But he ain't half what he used to be. His mouth has far more wallop than his fists these days.Even though his career is just beginning, Parker shouldn't really be fighting Botha. He has more class than his big opponent, in every form of what it means to be a boxer. Yet he is - and the best thing he can do for himself on Thursday night is completely deck the Buffalo. That way, the Kid will take another step in the direction he must head.That way, the Buffalo takes a step back to where he should be heading.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Kevin Barry concerned Botha could be drugged up

There are concerns Francois Botha could be taking a masking agent to avoid testing positive to anabolic steroids.Botha and Joseph Parker have both taken drug tests in front of the media today, in an effort to add credibility to the fight.The South African had his IBF world title stripped in 1996 after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone.Parker's trainer Kevin Barry says a red flag went up when Botha admitted to using cortisone.

"Cortisone is one of the preferred agents for masking anabolic steroids and has been for many years for a lot of the world's top athletes, of course Lance Armstrong being the most high profile."Barry says Botha's recent admission to using cortisone is concerning."You only have to look at Francois Botha's profile to see that he's talked about problems with his arm over the last 15, 20 years, and taking cortisone."So this excuse has been used time and time again, and I wonder how many times he has used it as a masking agent."Botha was the subject of drug claims after his controversial points loss to Sonny Bill Williams in February, with the Williams’ camp claiming Botha tested positive to the banned drug Phentermine, an appetite suppressant that can lead to hostility.

The 44-year-old rejected the slur, claiming a set-up, and subsequently supplied ONE News with a clean drug test from a South African doctor showing he had no banned substances in his system.Today's urine and blood samples will be sent to a World Anti Doping Authority approved testing laboratory in Sydney.Botha and Parker will weigh-in tomorrow for Thursday's fight in Auckland.

Boxing: New allegations levelled at Botha
By Michael Brown

As soon as the C word is mentioned, Kevin Barry starts working the room. "Cortisone,'' he whispers to one media representative as Francois Botha holds court with his gravely voice, "is a masking agent''.With that, the very public and slightly farcical drugs test of Botha and Joseph Parker, supposedly done to prove Thursday's fight would be at least clean when it came to performance enhancing drugs, takes another twist.Barry talks later about schooling Parker, who has only five professional fights to his name, about The Boxing Game. Boxing 101 he called it.Barry graduated with honours many years ago and, although relative newcomers, promoters Dean Lonergan and David Higgins from Duco Events are well on the way to earning their degrees.

The Duco pair knew exactly what they were doing by holding the public drugs test. An initial urine test - fortunately, this was done behind closed doors - showed both fighters were clean but it proved little considering the limited number of drugs it tested for.Both blood and urine samples will be sent to Sydney to be tested by the Australian Drug Testing Laboratory, the only Wada approved laboratory in Oceania, with the results not available for at least 10 days.Barry was concerned about what it might not find, considering Botha admitted he received a cortisone injection recently. Botha recently complained of an arm injury which threatened his involvement in the Parker fight so Lonergan gave him approval to receive a cortisone injection."I'm relaxed about it,'' Lonergan says.

"Athletes take cortisone to lubricate joints and take pain away from joints. It's a common thing to do. From that point of view, I shrugged my shoulders.''Barry, on the other hand, gave one of his intense stares. After all, Botha was stripped of the IBF heavyweight title he won in 1995 for having nandrolone in his system - he said he took it inadvertently, blindly trusting people in his camp to give him the right things, becoming the first boxer to test positive - and allegations of a failed test were also levelled at him by Khoder Nasser after his controversial defeat to Sonny Bill Williams in February."You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out he is a very experienced guy in and out of the ring,'' Barry says of the South African. "He knows all the tricks. I'm sure he's told this story many, many times in the past and got away with it many, many times in the past.''He also wasn't impressed Lonergan hadn't informed him. Lonergan wasn't bothered."Do I think he's taking cortisone as a masking agent?'' he ponders. "I don't know. Probably not. Do I think Kevin Barry gets paranoid about a whole lot of things? Yeah."It all comes down to Thursday night.

Performance enhancing drugs or not, I think Joseph Parker will knock Francois Botha out regardless of whether he has anything in his system and, in my opinion, I don't think he does.''Parker was almost a bystander throughout the 45-minute sideshow. Botha was the centre of attention as soon as he burst through the doors of Duco's offices in central Auckland and immediately called out 'Baby Joseph', as he's been referring to him all week.Parker grinned and replied, 'Hey, Granddad'. It was about his only meaningful contribution."I am learning a lot off him,'' Parker says looking at Botha. "I'm grateful I am in the situation I am in at the moment in my boxing career."I need to learn because, if I don't back myself up, then I will let someone run all over me.

​ But the Buffalo, everything he says is funny to me. He's a real character. We are good friends but, in the ring, different story.''Botha thought today's public drugs test would prove he's clean and ensure Thursday's fight was about nothing more than boxing. Little in the world of professional boxing is like that and suspicion follows Botha wherever he fights."Listen to me, man, I have permission to do this,'' he says. "This is not a title fight. I don't have to a doping test but I'm willing to do a test to show you I am clean. I have nothing to hide.'


Drug-testing controversy for Botha-Parker


Just another day in the circus world of boxing.Two days out from their anticipated match-up in Auckland, Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker and Francois Botha submitted drug tests today.On the face of it, the late scheduling of the tests could create controversy.There is now no way of telling if either fighter has taken a banned substance until June 25 – 12 days after the fight.With Botha having a chequered history of doping the promoters were keen to take steps to ensure he was clean.

The veteran South African was the first heavyweight boxer to test positive for steroid nandrolone after his win over German Axel Schulz 1995Sonny Bill-Williams’ camp also claimed Botha had phentermine - a banned stimulant - in his system during their controversial shortened fight in Brisbane earlier this year.Botha maintains that was a smear campaign.“Ever since 1995 everyone is trying to frame me over this,” he said today.Parker and Botha completed urine and blood samples today. Initial urine tests, however, only identify six illicit drugs such as THC (cannabis) and methamphetamine (P).While both boxers showed no signs of any illicit drugs, David Renata, the doctor of 22 years who performed today’s tests, revealed to Fairfax Media it will take 14 days to assess if either fighter has used performance enhancing drugs. 

“There are no labs in New Zealand that can process performance enhancing drugs so we have to send it across to the Australian Sports Drug Institute testing laboratory in Sydney,” Renata said.“It’s going to take 10 days for the samples to be analysed. If they find a banned substance then it takes a further four days to clarify.“The initial urine screening I’ve just done picks up six illicit drugs, not performance enhancing drugs. That comes out of the blood tests.”Asked whether timing of the tests made them irrelevant as there is no chance of detection before the fight, Renata said: “To a certain extent. We can say they haven’t had any illicit drugs in the last 48 hours but we can’t tell if they’ve got performance enhancing drugs.“It’s hard for the promoter to bring the boxer over two weeks before the fight. Ultimately that would be the best choice.“If something was to come up then it’s up to the boxing commission to make a call on the results.

”Renata also quashed concerns from Parker’s trainer, Kevin Barry, that Botha could be using cortisone as a masking agent. Botha openly revealed the pain-numbing substance had been injected into his elbow in order for him to punch freely. An anxious Barry claimed that could prevent performance enhancing drugs being found in his system. “If he needs cortisone to mask something or get himself in good enough shape for the fight then I’m okay with that,” he said.But Renata refuted Barry’s suggestions.  “Cortisone is a very strong anti-inflammatory,” Renata said. “If cortisone is put into a joint; his elbow or such area, it is allowed. It won’t mask anything else. It will come up on the testing but it won’t mask other substances.”

- © Fairfax NZ News

Francois Botha reveals cortisone injection at public drugs test

By Louis Anderson-Rich

Controversial boxer Francois Botha has revealed that he took a cortisone shot for an injury to his arm in preparation for his fight with Joseph Parker on Thursday night.Cortisone is a widely used anti-inflammatory drug that can be used to mask anabolic steroids, according to Joseph Parker's trainer Kevin Barry."We all know that cortisone is one of the preferred masking agents for sportsmen who are taking anabolic steroids," Barry says.

The 44-year-old South African, who has a history of allegations over using performance enhancing drugs, underwent a public drug test today.Earlier this year, Botha was accused of using banned substances before fighting Sonny Bill Williams. He was also stripped of his IBF heavyweight title in 1995 after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone."I still got stripped of a title but I still got recognised as the champion," Botha says."Unknowingly the guy gave it to me and I look up to the guy.

"I never cheated. I'm telling you the stuff was given to me because I had all these injuries in my arm."Botha also expressed upset at the drug allegations made by Williams' manager Khoder Nasser."This is very serious allegations, I could get banned from boxing, my career should be over if [they] find anything," Botha said."When I heard about how he's smearing my name in the media I said, 'Ok this is bullshit, now this is going to stop', I'm going to say what he's trying to do. That's why I brought that bribery story out."Fight promoter Dean Lonergan said today's press conference was to make it clear to the media that Duco promotions were putting a clean fight."There was a whole lot of speculation around the Sonny Bill Williams fight and we wanted to make it clear in the media's mind that we put on the cleanest possible fight we can," Lonergan says."We are drug testing before the fight - as in urine and bloods - and also drug testing after the fight to make sure no speed or pseudoephedrine's been taken."

-3 News

Boxing: Barry warns that Botha is a risky step up for Parker
​By Michael Brown

Joseph Parker looked relaxed ahead of the biggest fight of his short professional boxing career tomorrow night but the same couldn't be said about his trainer Kevin Barry.Barry joined Parker's camp two months ago after the 21-year-old agreed to take on Francois Botha and Barry isn't happy about Parker's choice of opponent.Fledgling boxers, particularly with Parker's potential, normally work their way through the grades against no-names and never-will-be-names, not 44-year-olds who have been in the ring with the likes of Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. 

It will be Parker's sixth professional fight but a considerable step up from his previous four."I will be happy when this fight is behind us because the downside is far greater than the upside," Barry said.At yesterday's highly unusual public drugs test, held by promoters Duco Events because of Botha's failed test in 1995 and accusations levelled at him by Khoder Nasser after the Sonny Bill Williams fight in February, Barry questioned Botha's need of a cortisone injection for an arm injury.He told anyone who would listen that cortisone is a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. Botha flatly denied any such allegation, and Parker is also unconcerned."Maybe he has [taken cortisone to mask steroids], maybe he hasn't," Parker said. "For me, no worries.

I am really prepared and that takes away the nerves and worry. If he does, let's hope he gets caught and it ends his career. Cheaters have to get caught."The initial testing found nothing untoward in the systems of Botha or Parker but full results of the blood and urine tests will take at least 10 days.Meanwhile, Barry just hopes his boxer comes through the fight unscathed. APNZnzherald.co.nzIn part two of a three-part series Steve Orsbourn talks to the Duco owners about the undercard and why models and dwarfs are fighting ahead of amateur boxers.


Boxing: No nerves for Parker ahead of Botha challenge
By Patrick McKendry

Joseph Parker claims to have no nerves ahead of the biggest fight of his career.There is a fair bit on the line for the New Zealand heavyweight when he gets into the ring against Francois Botha at Auckland's Trusts Arena on Thursday night.He has invested a lot - the stint in Las Vegas sparring against quality opposition which culminated in a points victory over fellow Kiwi Brice Ritani-Coe and a change in style to make better use of his tall frame.The fight is also scheduled for eight rounds - the longest he has fought in his career were the six rounds against Ritani-Coe.Yet he looked extremely relaxed and confident at today's official press conference in downtown Auckland.Botha, 44, was in a jovial mood but his wisecracks at Parker's expense - mainly about his youth and inexperience - brought only smiles from the unbeaten 21-year-old."I'm just really excited to show what baby Joseph can do,'' Parker said, borrowing a phrase from Botha."I'm coming into this fight with no nerves. I'm not worried, I'm prepared. We had a great camp, there's no nerves, we're just excited about the fight on Thursday.

''His trainer Kevin Barry, who has been working with Parker for two months, said his charge had every reason to feel that way."If you prepare yourself well and work as hard as you can and achieve what you set out to do in preparation for a fight then you should be confident and relaxed,'' Barry said."There's only a need to be nervous and worried if you haven't done the work and Joseph has trained mostly three times a day.Barry said of Parker's new stand-offish style: "Against the fighter with the experience and craftiness and durability of Botha we need to keep him out. He can't be fighting him in close quarters because then we'll have a really hard night."Joseph's a very quick learner. He's a very smart young man and what I like about him is that he has a fantastic training etiquette.

He is not afraid to push himself. He sets very high goals for himself."A lot of fighters at this stage of their career could have been feathering their records to get to 10 or 15 and 0 fighting nobodies yet he was instrumental in saying yes give me this fight.''Botha will have the unique experience of fighting after his son Marcel, as the 23-year-old welterweight features on the undercard.Showing up early for the press conference, Botha worked the room in his usual style, though this time while wearing patent leather boots with a design more cheetah than leopard-print."After I knock you out, this is not the end for you,'' he said to Parker, tongue in cheek."I'm already speaking to Duco, I'm going to take you to South Africa, I'm going to feature you there. It's not going to be the end of your career, it's going to be your beginning.

"You'll say, 'I fought an experienced fighter, he spanked me, he taught me, he schooled me'.''Asked about Parker's hand speed, the man who controversially lost to Sonny Bill Williams in February, said: "That doesn't mean anything. When a fighter goes against a heavy bag he can look a million dollars... when you put him against somebody, that changes the whole story.''The compere suggested: "Maybe Joseph is looking at you as a heavy bag.'' Botha chuckled before replying: "Even baby Joseph is laughing about that.''


Botha good opponent but Parker should win
OPINION: Joseph Parker should, and probably will, beat Francois Botha tomorrow night in Auckland.It's been built up as Parker's biggest challenge in his young boxing career, and in some aspects it is.The profile that this fight has attached to it is bigger than anything he would have experienced before. Promoters Duco Events have done everything they can to hover the spotlight over this fight - it has even included drawing attention to it by scheduling a bizarre dwarfs fight as the premier undercard event.David Higgins and Dean Lonergan are the masters in promotion and getting headlines.

It is sounds as if the mature 21-year-old has taken it all in his stride and will be ready come tomorrow night.As a challenge, in terms of the match-up alone, the reality is this probably isn't actually his biggest challenge.Botha has a impressive boxing CV, yes, and he has ring craft which has to be well regarded, however he is about 15 years past his prime.While the amateur boxing game sits in the dusty shadows of professional boxing people have to realise that as an amateur Parker went head-to-head against some world class boxers and won.The way I see tomorrow night going is he will be far too quick and fit for Botha and he'll probably win comfortably in a points decision.The reason I say a points decision is Botha is durable and it is going to take one heck of a shot to drop him for good and Parker isn't known as a knockout exponent to date.Despite all the angst, Botha is probably a good fit for all involved.

Botha's recent controversial scrap with Sonny Bill Williams meant his name was known for people in New Zealand to relate to.For promoters Duco Events, the Parker-Botha showdown is marketable and people will watch.However, despite Botha having some stature in the boxing game and previously fighting the likes of Tyson, Lewis and Klitschko, he is someone Parker should beat at this stage of his career if he is to continue to make the right steps.In short Botha is certainly a test for Parker but surely wouldn't be regarded a really dangerous risk to him at this stage - it's a win-win for everyone.But who would be talked about next for Parker?For it is the intriguing topic if everything goes to the predictions and the rising New Zealand heavyweight does beat Botha.

Duco Events will want to find another opponent that can sell like Botha has, but the Parker camp will want to continue to tread carefully at this stage of the career.A fight that many would want to see would be Parker-Shane Cameron.It would sell in New Zealand and it would create hype but it's unlikely to happen in the near future.Parker's trainer Kevin Barry quite rightly pointed out yesterday when he spoke to The Southland Times that Cameron is a 12 round fighter while Parker is still working his way up to that point.His amateur fights were mainly held over three and four rounds and if he goes eight rounds against Botha it will be longest stoush he has to date.Duco Events and the Parker camp are set for a challenge as far as mapping out the youngsters career from here.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Boxing: White Buffalo gets ready to champion new causes
By Paul Lewis

Soon after he fights Joseph Parker at Auckland's Trusts Arena tonight, Francois Botha's thoughts will start turning towards Evander Holyfield, Tanzania and an African version of Fight For Life."It's getting time for me to think about putting something back into the sport," says the 44-year-old Botha at yesterday's weigh-in for the Hydr8 Zero explosion encounter with promising young New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker. "I am talking to Evander Holyfield ... about going to Tanzania, to put something back into the sport and raise money by fighting exhibition matches to fight malaria in that country and show kids how they can build a good foundation for their lives, too."Botha, the self-styled "White Buffalo", plainly has something of a social conscience.Asked how much longer he would fight, Botha shrugs and talks of changing the direction of his boxing career. 

He mentions Mike Tyson - one of the many world champions he has fought - and Nelson Mandela and, with his connections now with Duco Events (promoters of the Parker-Botha fight and Fight For Life), he is also talking of the possibility of an African version of Fight For Life to honour Mandela and/or raise money for charity."He is the father of our land, you know," he says. "He is an inspiration to us all - a great, great man and we need to honour him."Botha says he isn't really thinking of retirement: "It all depends how much punishment you take. I really haven't taken too much, except maybe for the Michael Moorer fight (in 1996, he lost by knockout in the 12th round of 12) when I was over-trained."Botha doesn't mention his knockouts to Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Wladimir Klitschko.

He also lost by TKO to Holyfield in 2010 when the latter was 48.Parker stands in huge contrast to this - 21, with only five fights behind him but superbly fit, a fast-hands fighter who says of his training with Kevin Barry in Las Vegas: "I used to fight like a small man, getting in close and throwing a lot of punches, but I have been learning to fight like a big man and I will fight Botha like the big man I am [Parker stands 1.97m and weighed in at 102.9kg to Botha's 1.88cm and 116.5kg]."These two obviously respect each other once you cut through the promo-talk. Botha says Parker has a bright future ahead of him while Parker has a shy grin when he calls Botha "Grandad" in response to Botha's habit of calling him "Baby Joseph".

No worries for focused Parker ahead of fight


He is the epicentre of billboards. Posters. Advertisements. For the first time, Joseph Parker is out of the shadows. No longer is he the feature undercard. Tonight, he is main event.Thousands of people will flock to Auckland's Trusts Stadium. Many more will stump up $40 to watch the headline act slug it out for eight rounds on pay-per-view. This is the big time, where real risks equal real rewards.In less than a year since turning pro, Parker has been fast-tracked from thumping school teachers to seasoned veterans.The humble South Auckland kid must now duck the pressure; live up to the hype.Francois Botha is a promoter's dream. 

The over-weight, over-the-hill South African heavyweight (116.5kg) is all character. His exuberant personality and colourful history is tailor-made for television ratings, radio grabs and tabloid headlines. Before he steps into the ring for the 62nd time – and one step closer to overdue retirement – Botha's vast experience has already earned his sizeable cheque.But tonight is not about Botha. The sun has set on the 44-year-old, who needed cortisone injected in his arm just to fight freely. Forget the dwarf fight, too. Tonight is about assessing New Zealand boxing's next big thing. Tonight, in just his sixth pro fight, the spotlight is firmly on Parker.“I am comfortable with that,” the 21-year-old, who weighed in at a trim 102.9kg yesterday, said. “The reason why is I have a lot of support. I'm fighting in-front of a big crowd in my home town. I have no nerves or worries, because of the preparation. I've been pushed fast but I'm ready to step up and take it on.

”Over the past two months Parker has ticked every box. Even at home he's keeping distractions at bay – staying in the Pullman Hotel, rather than with family, to ensure his focus isn't compromised.In Las Vegas – the home of boxing – Parker fought 91 rounds under the guidance of trainer Kevin Barry. Twenty-four rounds were against undefeated Mexican heavyweight Andrew Ruiz (19-0).“He's rated as the next big thing in America,” Parker said. “I feel like I'm at the peak of my fitness.”This week Parker's relaxed demeanour painted the picture of inner assurance. He appears mentally and physically ready. As each day passed he seemed to grow in stature. Nothing the “Buffalo” said or did could unsettle the young challenger's calm body language.“To me that speaks volumes,” Barry said. “That tells me we're going to have a nice performance on Thursday night. The confident aura he's giving off … there's no doubt in Joseph's mind he's not going to perform. The New Zealand public will see a new star.”Parker's cool mentality is crucial. Just ask Sonny Bill-Williams. Botha is no stranger to dirty after-the-bell tricks.

Further cheap shots would not surprise.Every boxing pundit wants to see a knockout. But those craving a definitive blow may be forced to settle for a convincing point's win. It's fitting Parker will come out to the Roy Jones Jr. tune “Can't be touched”. The song title emulates his fight-plan.Parker will attempt a Lennox Lewis-style approach – keep his distance, be patient, pick his punches, use his height advantage; stick, move and win every round to control the tempo.“We're not going to go looking for a knockout,” Parker said. “If you go looking for a knockout you'll never get it. I know he's a tough, durable opponent but I'm prepared. I want to go in there and box and move – not be the big man. If the knockout comes it will make the night much better.”There's no need to take any chances against Botha who says he will “eat a few rib bones” from the opening bell. Parker's speed should prove too much. Get past the wily journeyman and all doors will open.“It was a fight I never wanted from the beginning,” Barry cautioned. “I'll be happy when this fight has been put to rest and we can move on with the rest of the year and Joseph can fight the sort of fighters he should be fighting against.”

Parker, Botha fail to add to fight night hype
​By Chris Matthews

In the crazy world of Duco promotions, today's weigh-in of Joseph Parker and Francois Botha was rather tame.Parker weighed in at 102.9 kg, while his out-spoken South African opponent measured up at a hefty 116.5 kg at Trusts Stadium, where the fight will take place tomorrow night.While the weight difference between the two fighters was expected to be much larger, the pre-fight taunts did little to add hype to a fight night which has had its fair share of coverage.Botha, 44, who in contrast to his younger opponent is a damn right joker, did his very best by jeering the measured and mannered Parker with jabs of "Baby Joseph."The 21-year-old, who it must be said is still lacking a ring name of note, responded with a polite smile but other than that today paled in comparison to the drama of what has gone on before.The controversy of having two little people on the main undercard got the ball rolling weeks ago while the revelations that Botha had been allowed to use a masking agent to avoid testing positive to anabolic steroids added another twist yesterday to a sordid tale.

"We are in the business of promotion and entertainment," promoter Dean Lonergan reaffirmed for the umpteenth time."We are not boxing purists and I know some people are saying the girls' world title fight (between Arlene Blencowe and Daniella Smith) should be right on the under card.""But we looked at it and thought our little guys have taken some stick over the last couple of weeks on certain sections of the media, public and talk back radio."We are going to tell them stick it right up their noses and have the dwarfs on, our little guys on in the main undercard fight because that is how strongly we feel about it.Whether that translates to pay-per-view numbers remains to be seen. Two little people fighting certainly doesn't have the same sort of mainstream appeal as a Jaime Ridge fight - remember her?"There has been a lot of publicity around this fight. We are expecting our pay-per-view numbers to be solid. You never know until the night.

"If people are prepared to fork out $40 a pop, it will be to see how well Parker goes in his fifth professional fight.Even though 'Granddaddy Botha' could be his father, the White Buffalo has scrappy tactics that could muddle Parker's thinkingBut Parker, under Kevin Barry's guidance, has learnt how to use his height to his advantage in recent weeks in Las Vegas and plans to implement this new philosophy tomorrow night."In my first four fights I was fighting like a small man, even though I was a big man. I was coming in close and throwing a lot of punches."So I have learnt how to fight like a big man and will fight like a big man (tomorrow) that I am."Botha, who doesn't quite have the sharp wit of the last big fighter who was here, American Monte Barrett, did his best to hype up the fight in his Afrikaans babble, but didn't really convince."Tomorrow is the big dance. That is when you are going to have show your stuff. Kevin Barry won't be able to help you Baby Joseph because you are going to be all alone with big Buffalo."What is this? The Bible?

Francois Botha unfazed by Joseph ​Parker's speed
​By Robert Lowe

Veteran heavyweight boxer Francois Botha has some words of encouragement for young New Zealand opponent Joseph Parker.The way the 44-year-old Botha sees it, when "Baby Joseph" gets knocked out in Auckland on Thursday night, it won't be the end of his career.The boxer known as "the White Buffalo" wants to help Parker out by taking him to South Africa."You can say `listen, I fought an experienced fighter - he spanked me, he schooled me'," Botha said.

"Of course, it will be the beginning of your career and we're going to take you back to South Africa and we're going to further you there."Botha was in typically chirpy form on Monday at a pre-fight news conference.The bout against Parker will be his 62nd in a 23-year professional career that has brought 48 wins and nine losses.He has stepped in the ring with some big names, including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.His last fight, against league and rugby player Sonny Bill Williams in Brisbane in February, ended in a controversial points defeat.Botha was unfazed by the hand speed that Parker, 21, has shown in his 5-0 record."It doesn't mean anything, mate," he said."When a fighter goes against a heavy bag, he looks like a million dollars.

When you put him in front of somebody, then it changes the whole story."Parker is regarded as a bright prospect, but Botha will be a step up.The Aucklander says he's feeling confident.His preparation included training in Las Vegas under David Tua's former manager Kevin Barry and a six-round bout in Los Angeles, where he beat compatriot Brice Ritani-Coe by unanimous decision.Parker describes the camp as giving him his best boxing experience and a key lesson."My first four fights, I was in close and throwing too many punches," he said."But he's helped me learn to a fight a big man and keep a distance, and that's our game plan."


Kevin Barry just missed chance to be UFC star

In an alternate universe, New Zealand boxing icon Kevin Barry could be sitting at the top of the UFC mountain right now.The Las Vegas-based boxing trainer has been busy back in New Zealand over the past week with Joseph Parker, who he had trained for the previous two months before he took on South African heavyweight Francois Botha.Parker's second-round knockout of Botha in West Auckland on Thursday night will further strengthen Barry's reputation as a trainer, but things could have unfolded much differently for the 1984 Olympic boxing silver medallist.Barry told Sunday News he was approached by UFC supremo Dana White in 2005 to be the boxing trainer for season one of The Ultimate Fighter, the organisation's flagship reality TV fight show.

"When everything blew up with David [Tua], I went to Vegas and Dana said to me, ‘I've got the perfect gym for you to work out of'," Barry said."It was the Fertitta private gym. Dana used to be a personal trainer there, and I started working there with him. In season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter, I was going to be the boxing coach."Barry said he worked with all the fighters in the show's buildup and was even interviewed on camera for segments - but broke his wrist in a sparring session before The Ultimate Fighter hit the air.It meant he missed his opportunity to be involved at the ground floor of the UFC - now a wealthy, worldwide operation.

"Two weeks before the show started, I busted my wrist on a fighter's head," Barry said."I was sparring with the guy into the third or fourth round and I threw a jab that hit him in the head and snapped my wrist. A year-and-a-half later, I got going again [with the UFC] but never really followed through with it."Barry said White even offered him video rights for the UFC in Australia and New Zealand but he didn't take them, as he wasn't sure the organisation would take off."We've laughed about it a few times since," he said. "He told me it was fantastic timing, and UFC was ready to blow up."I talked to some guys back here but nobody knew it would turn into the monster that it is today."Barry has stayed in touch with White over recent years - even organising a meeting with him for Duco Events' Dean Lonergan and David Higgins,who were interested in running New Zealand's first-ever UFC show.

​- © Fairfax NZ News

Fire still burns in low-key trainer Kevin Barry

Call it a boxer's instinct - that when the spotlight is turned on and burning bright, you step into its glare.Let the photographers' lenses snap, and you will pose; fists raised. Let the press ask their questions and you reply; full of bravado and confidence.Let the advertisements roll on billboards and television screens - let people see your face. Make sure they remember your face - and who you are.For the majority of his career in boxing, Kevin Barry has embodied this instinct. Since that controversial silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, he has never stepped away from an opportunity to get his name out there.Through his days in the elite amateur ranks to his topsy-turvy spell as David Tua's manager, Barry has embraced almost every - no, every - opportunity to speak about boxing the way he saw it.That leathery fighter's face, those piercing blue eyes, that schoolboy haircut that hasn't changed in decades - Barry's look is just as familiar as his speech.Polished and proud - with any Kiwi roughness slicked over with a dash of Las Vegas, the notorious town he has called home since 2005.It's the Barry way, and has been for years. Which is why his last week back in New Zealand has been so peculiar.The 53-year-old was in Auckland for last Thursday's fight between Joseph Parker, who he has been training in Sin City over the past two months, and the lovably loutish South African heavyweight Francois Botha.Yet, perhaps for the first time in Barry's boxing life, he appeared more than content to stand out of that limelight.He had the opportunity at any of Duco's pre-fight hype moments. 

He had it again after his boy Parker dealt to Botha, knocking out the White Buffalo in the second round at Trusts Stadium.And while he spoke, he didn't wrestle any microphones, or become the main attraction. Barry looked happy enough being part of the journey - Parker's journey.Maybe this year has seen a new Barry return to New Zealand. Maybe, he's mellowing a bit more with age."We're in a very good place," he told Sunday News last week, of his life at the moment. "I'm very happy with life. My wife is happy. Our children are going well. Our marriage is solid. Life's good. Now I'm back doing what I love - what is my passion, working with young fighters. So I'm highly motivated at the moment, and very pumped with my life."Barry has been in Vegas since 2005 - a sanctuary perhaps from an increasingly tattered Kiwi reputation after the fallout he and former partner Martin Pugh faced following their rift with Tua.He's turned that sanctuary into a real home - making his money training corporate boxers and promising youngsters. He's well-connected up there - even counting UFC boss Dana White as a mate.His three kids are now looking at applying for US citizenship - "they're little Americans now" - and he loves talking about how well they are doing over there.Daughter Jordy, 20, has just graduated from Iowa's Luther College with a double degree - and is about to be accepted into the United States' top political science school.

Twin sons Mitch and Taylor, 18, are star American football players - with Mitch due to start a football scholarship at San Diego State University.With a bit of luck, the free safety, who was named in the Nevada All-State team this year, could be beginning a track to the giddy heights of the NFL.Yet as much as he is happy to talk about his buoyant family life in Vegas, start him talking about Parker and his eyes really light up.How hard the two worked in Vegas and what Barry thinks of him - "a very special kid" - have been repeated over and over in the media.But there seems to be a real sincerity to Barry's words. You can tell he really believes in this young South Aucklander."He does everything I ask of him," he said. "I don't do anything I don't believe in but if I tell him to go out and do something, he'll do it."I'm like, oh my God, you don't find fighters like that. He believes in me, and I believe in him."We've become really good mates in two months. We've spent so much time together . . . we spend a lot of time in the car getting this place and that."We have a lot of laughs. You can't be serious and grinding all the time. We have tons of fun. I'm excited to be part of the journey - because it's going to be a great journey."Barry is still Barry. The hype is there in his words - even though he seems content to stand somewhat out of the limelight.Barry wants to keep training Parker - the two are heading back to Vegas soon for another two months in the gym.Ask him about the future, and you'll see those boxer's eyes light up again. In his words, you'll hear those old Barry lines.Listen hard, and you'll know that he hasn't changed.

"I plan on being with Joseph for a long time," Barry said, at the pre-fight weigh-ins. " We have very, very good chemistry. We both have worked very hard in the last two months."I gave him everything I could, and he gave me everything he could. The relationship we have looks like something that will be long-lasting." Barry then smiles, and says: "But boxing is boxing. You never know."

- © Fairfax NZ News

Cameron: Parker fight timing must be right

Shane Cameron believes a match-up with Joseph Parker will happen "when the timing is right" but seems certain to rebuff a six-figure offer to him this year.A war of words erupted today after Parker's second-round demolition of South African veteran Francois Botha.Straight after yesterday's emphatic knockout, Parker's promoters, Duco Events, called out Cameron, with Dean Lonergan saying the 35-year-old was "there for the taking".Lonergan's business partner, David Higgins, raised the stakes today, offering Cameron (29-3) more than $100,000 to take on Parker (6-0). Higgins also claimed Parker would end Cameron's career.

"We are probably ready to fight Shane in the coming six-months or year and we will try and make it happen," Higgins said."The incentive will be there. It will be within Shane's top-three highest-ever paydays. It will be an early six-figure fee."Cameron respects the budding Parker, who made a statement with his sixth professional fight win in Auckland, but he feels the 21-year-old is not ready to go toe-to-toe over 12-rounds yet. Parker's longest pro fight was a six-round points win over fellow inexperienced Kiwi Brice Ritani in California."He's a young guy and I get on well with him," Cameron told Fairfax Media today."It comes down to what he wants too."It's a fight that will happen when he earns his stripes. It's a fight that will eventuate if the timing is right. If he has another half-a-dozen good fights then it's definitely potentially do-able."After coming off a cruiserweight world title loss to Danny Green, Cameron is taking the year off before launching a comeback. He reckons Parker's Las Vegas-based trainer Kevin Barry would not be on board with Duco's fast-tracked plans.

"I'm sure Kevin Barry wouldn't want to put Joseph in a 12-round fight," he said."Kevin has a lot more knowledge than Dean Lonergan. Dean knows how to put on circus acts but he doesn't have any experience with quality fighters like Joseph."Kevin has been around a long time. I'm sure he's not silly enough to go and do that. He wants to work with Joseph for another year or 18 months before he starts stepping in to the level of where I know I'm at."I've had 20 title fights. Joseph hasn't even had one yet. Nothing against the guy but that's reality. I'm a seasoned conditioned pro."Higgins stoked the fire further by asserting Parker would not only beat Cameron but end his career."Let's be honest it could be a career-ending fight for Shane," he said."Joseph is young, is up-and-coming. He's the next big thing in New Zealand boxing. If he was to put Shane away and knock him out like he did to Botha - and he would - where does Shane go to from there?"[Cameron's manager] Ken Reinsfield knows full well that will be Shane's last fight."Reinsfield was infuriated by those assertions, saying Parker's win over the now-retired Botha needed to be kept in perspective.

"He just beat the same guy Dean Lonergan said was a bum after he fought Sonny Bill-Williams," Reinsfield said."Apparently he is no longer a bum."Joseph is developing. He has a lot of talent. He certainly looked better against Botha, but to call out Shane is ridiculous."There's a whole lot of difference to fighting a 44-year-old that fights in slow motion to Shane Cameron. His punches will hurt you."Joseph has got some potential but he is yet to be tested."With verbal counter-punches galore, this is the sort of public feud that played out before the Cameron-David Tua fight in 2009.While the Cameron-Parker match-up may be at least 12-months away, it is clearly on the cards.

- © Fairfax NZ News
Boxing: US dream now a reality

By Paul Lewis

Joseph Parker is a heavyweight boxer of such promise that he needs to be taken to the US - that's the word from the man Parker pitched into retirement after his second-round stoppage in their fight on Thursday night: Francois Botha.The burly, 44-year-old South African announced his professional retirement after the fight with Parker, though he is in the process of arranging exhibition fights with former world champions Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson in Tanzania and the Congo to raise money for various charities.Botha has had 62 heavyweight bouts; his record reads like a Who's Who of boxing in the past 25 years: current champion Wladimir Klitschko, Holyfield, Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Michael Moorer, Shannon Briggs, Michael Grant and many more. So it's worth listening when he is asked how he would handle the 21-year-old Parker if he was his manager."You have to take him to the United States," said Botha. 

"There are so many fighters there that you can basically source what kind of fighter you want him to fight against."You have to be very careful with him, now that he is beginning to get known. You have to pick your opponents. You can select them based on whether they suit your fighter's style, yes, but that's not really what I am talking about. You need to find opponents against whom you have at least an 80 per cent chance of winning."There is never anything certain in boxing but 80 per cent is as low a chance as you go. Not 70 per cent and certainly not 60 per cent. You train and fight in the US and you build up a record and you get noticed and you end up getting a title shot. He'll do that, I'm sure of it - he'll get a title shot if they handle him like that."Look at this fight against me. Okay, he won, but it was a big risk for him. But he will start going up the ladder now and he's a good boy.

"There's not much danger of Parker not going to the US, the seat of his sponsorship by Union Gaming. He and trainer Kevin Barry said after the fight that they would be returning to Las Vegas to continue the training and relationship that produced such a fit, fast and crisp-hitting Parker.His victory immediately produced speculation that his connections would call out Shane Cameron or Sonny Bill Williams.Duco's Dean Lonergan said they would be interested in staging a fight but Williams would "run like a little girl" and that Cameron against Parker would be career-ending for the former. Certainly, if you applied Botha's 80 per cent rule Williams would be unlikely to take the bout against Parker. However, this is boxing, where money not only talks but tends to dominate.

​A Williams-Parker fight would be highly marketable and lucrative. In New Zealand.But Parker's international prospects have also risen. It is understood he is being considered as a possible sparring partner for a boxer soon to be involved in a world title fight. Modern boxing has any number of so-called title fights but there are rumbles this may involve a Klitschko, one of the two brothers who have dominated the division. Wladimir is set to fight tough Russian Alexander Povetkin in a US$23 million ($28.5m) extravaganza in October. Brother Vitali is set to fight WBC mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne and is then widely rumoured to be planning a pre-retirement fight against Britain's David Haye in another big earner. Wladimir fought Haye in a unification bout in 2011, winning clearly in a unanimous points decision.Haye appears to be set first to fight another up-and-coming Briton, the 24-year-old, 2.06m, 117kg Tyson Fury (named by a boxing-mad father) in a fight already being hyped as 'The Battle Of Britain'. Fury is unbeaten after 21 fights as a heavyweight and the bout with Haye could be worth up to £5 million (nearly $10m).Sparring partners often end up getting title fights. A former sparring partner of Wladimir Klitschko's, Francesco Pianeta, was his opponent just last month (he lost by TKO after six rounds).

Pianeta also beat Botha, last year, in a 10-round unanimous decision.The Parker sparring invitation may not materialise; this is boxing, with more fables than Aesop. But this was in the offing even before Parker's Botha fight - showing that he is being noticed and that this is the kind of territory to which a 21-year-old Joseph Parker may already be getting a little closer.

​- Herald on Sunday

Boxing: Tua incentive angers Barry
By Patrick McKendry

Joseph Parker's trainer Kevin Barry is angry Francois Botha has the incentive of a potentially lucrative fight against David Tua if he can get past his man on Thursday night.A heavyweight meeting with Tua, who is in the midst of another comeback, gives Botha extra motivation to beat 21-year-old Parker at Auckland's Trusts Arena in an event sponsored by Hydr8 Zero Explosion.Barry, who has been training Parker for the past two months, has made his feelings known to Dean Lonergan of Duco Events, the organisation which promotes Parker."I just said him, 'oh thanks, like he really needs more motivation','' Barry said.Barry, who used to train Tua before the pair fell out, is also unhappy about the order of the undercard.Daniella Smith has a world title fight against Arlene Blencowe - previous opponent Sarah Howett withdrew due to a wrist injury - yet has been given the low-profile slot of third fight in. The top undercard fight (of six) has been awarded to Matthew Wood v Colin Lane, who are fighting in what has been advertised as the New Zealand World Dwarf Boxing Championship."I think it's terrible what they've done to Daniella Smith,'' Barry said. 

"A girl who has been around boxing her whole life, who has won a women's world title, is fighting for another one and they throw her down on the card. She should be the main support fight and I've said that to Dean."Hey, I love these guys, they're tremendous promoters and they do a hell of a job with marketing and they do a tremendous job with Joseph, but some of the decisions they make I don't agree with.''In response, Lonergan said of the Tua carrot for 44-year-old Botha: "I know Kevin's not happy about it. But ... we're in a business. Yes, Francois has got an absolute incentive to go out and beat Joseph, but you know what, Joseph's in a tough game. We thought that Francois would be a tough fight, but I've got confidence in Joseph's ability and Kevin's ability to beat Francois, but if they can't then we'll have to sit down and ask some questions.''Of the decision to drop Smith down the order, Lonergan said: "Kevin is a boxing purist.

​There is quite a bit of thought into how the card is organised and ordered. We're in the business of overall entertainment, we're not boxing purists, but equally we want to get the best bang for our buck and if people are talking about it, we don't see that as being a bad thing.''Joseph, who has a five-win, no-loss record, looked relaxed at yesterday's official press conference ahead of the biggest challenge of his career. The sparring in Las Vegas and six-round victory over Brice Ritani-Coe have clearly helped his confidence, but, as Barry rightly said, plenty of questions remain."Can he go eight rounds? Can he keep Botha out for eight rounds? Will the experience of Botha be too much for him? How is he going to handle the crowd in his first real big fight as the main attraction? You never really know until the night.''Also in attendance yesterday was Richard Moriarty from Union Gaming Advisors, a Las Vegas-based investment banking company who are funding Parker to the tune of five figures with the promise of more to come. It is significant backing for a Kiwi boxer at the start of his career. Moriarty, for one, sees Parker as a safe bet.