New Faces: Joseph Parker
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Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand.
Weight class: Heavyweight
Height / reach: 6-4 (193 cm)/ 76 inches (193 cm)
Amateur record: 27-8 (estimated)
Turned pro: 2012
Pro record: 10-0, 9 knockouts
Trainer(s): Kevin Barry
Manager: Dempsey Parker (father), Moses Fruean (uncle) and a former New Zealand Supreme Court Judge Bill Wilson
Promoter: DUCO Promotions
Best night of pro career: Although Parker has just 10 pro fights, he’s been moved relatively aggressively so far and already owns a win over former heavyweight beltholder Frans Botha, who was admittedly a far from his peak as an IBF titlist.
However, it is his win over perennial gatekeeper Brian Minto earlier this year that Parker considers his most impressive performance to date.
“My fight with Brian Minto was the best night of my pro career,” Parker told RingTV.com. “I was able to demonstrate my ability to maintain focus, stick to a game plan and present to those watching a more mature boxer.
“I am grateful for the training and support that I am receiving which sees me go from strength to strength every time I fight. I am growing more confident and building up an arsenal of techniques and skills which I feel I was able to demonstrate some of during my fight with Brian Minto.”
His trainer Kevin Barry who previously worked with David Tua was also pleased with that performance.
“Minto is an experienced veteran who was coming off a terrific knockout win over fellow Kiwi Shane Cameron,” said Barry. “Had Minto been allowed to fight his fight it would have been a very tough encounter for Joseph.
“However, Joseph followed a perfect game plan and used his superior size (height and reach) to control the distance and keep Minto on the outside where he could have no effect.
“After busting Minto up with long range punches from the outside, Joseph picked his spots to engage and when he did he over powdered his experienced foe dropping him twice to the canvas. Joseph was barely touched in seven rounds. Joe showed a lot of poise, patience and maturity in this fight.”
Worst night of pro career: With nine of his 10 wins coming inside the distance it’s hard to find any faults. That said, Parker feels he let his relative lack of pro experience get the better of him when he fought fellow New Zealander Afa Tatupu a year ago.
“The fight with Afa Tatupu was quite the opposite of that fight against Brian Minto,” said Parker, “and could be compared easily as both required that I fight a shorter fighter known for coming in and putting on the pressure.
“During the fight with Afa Tatupu I was suckered into the pressure and engaged in a sloppy brawl at times having lost sight of the game plan. As a result, I ended the fight with a nasty gash above my left eye. It was one of the worst nights of my pro career as it showcased my inexperience and immaturity as a pro fighter, but it was also one of the best learning experiences I have had.”
Next fight: Parker makes his fourth appearance of the year on Thursday when he meets grizzled veteran Sherman Williams. The teak-tough Bahaman has only been stopped once in 52 bouts, taking the likes of Robert Helenius, Ruslan Chagaev and Manuel Charr the distance.
Parker expects the bout with Williams to be a learning curve.
“I have a great deal of respect for Sherman Williams,” he said. “He is a vastly experienced boxer, with a granite chin, who has only been stopped once. He takes every fight seriously. To knock him out would be an achievement but either way the fight is another test for me and an opportunity to learn more about my craft.”
Why he’s a prospect: Despite turning professional without huge numbers of amateur fights Parker was still able to win several amateur tournaments as well as score a couple of notable wins on the international circuit.
He won silver at the World Youth Olympics and bronze at the World Youth Games.
Parker won gold at the Arafura games, the China Open as well as Serbia Games where he beat 2012 Olympian’s Eric Pfeifer and Johan Linde.
He was awarded the New Zealand Pacific Junior sportsman of the year while still in the amateur ranks in 2011.
Though Parker didn’t medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he lost on the count back system when he fought eventual gold medal winner Tariq Abdul Haqq at the quarter final stage.
Barry see’s many positives in his fighter.
“Joe has tremendous hand speed and I believe is as fast as any heavyweight in the world,” said Barry. “He is a student of the game and works very diligently to perfect his newly learned skills.
“Joe is a great trainer who I never have to chase to train. He works out three times a day most days with Sunday off.
“He has learned at a young age that there is no substitute for hard work. Joe knows that with hard work comes confidence and he is a very confident fighter. Joe loves being the star on his promotions and works to protect that role.”
There are inevitable comparisons between Barry’s former client Tua and the budding Parker.
“Tua and Joe are similar in that they both have Samoan parents and they both lived in Mangere, South Auckland,” said Barry. “They were both also very good amateurs and both trained in America.”
The comparison’s for Barry end there.
“Tua was a 5-foot-9, one-punch knockout artist, who often fell behind on points to rely on his huge power,” laments Barry. “Tua also, for the most part, struggled with weight problems and didn’t really like to train.
“Joe is 6-foot-4 and in 10 fights has lost one round on the judges’ cards. His power comes from speed and technique. Joe is always in great shape and follows an impressive training regime.
“Tua was a highly decorated champion who won a host of championship belts but even though he had knockout wins over four former world champions he could never capture the world title himself.
“Joe in 10 professional fights has won three championship belts and is currently entering the world rankings at 14. He is young, he is exciting, he is talented and he is work in progress. I believe that Joseph Parker is the best and most exciting talent to come out of New Zealand since Tua turned pro in 1992.”
So far Parker has gained valuable experience appearing on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko’s most recent win when he beat Alex Leapai.
Parker has set up training camp in Las Vegas with Barry. He’s thankful for the opportunity to work out in the boxing capital.
“I have been grateful for the sparring partners that have been available to me that I would not have had access to if I had remained and trained in New Zealand,” he said. “Some of which include Bermane Stiverne, Andy Ruiz, Sergei Liakhovich, Izuagbe Ugonoh, Brice Ritani-Coe and many more.”
Why he’s a suspect: Parker turned professional at 20, which is young for a heavyweight, and though he has decent amateur credentials he didn’t stick around long enough to mature further.
There are many tests the youngster needs to pass before being proclaimed the future of the division. Does he take a good shot? What’s his stamina like? What happens when he hits someone and they don’t go down?
“Joe is a 22-year-old young man,” said Barry. “He is a baby in the heavyweight division and is still growing into his body.
“He has improved out of sight in the last 18 months and his skill set is impressive. He has grown a lot in his media work and is improving further as his confidence grows and his personality develops.
“Joe and I are always working on new faucets of his boxing game. Every day is a learning day as we work towards molding and developing his physical attributes, his mental strengths and his overall skills. We are looking to challenge and test him in most fights as we work towards building this young talented man into a champion.”
Story lines: Boxing has been a part of Parker’s life for as long as he can remember.
“I don’t remember a time when boxing was not a part of our family life,” said Parker. “My father Dempsey had always loved boxing and we would always watch the boxing fights on TV as they would come up.
“I think that in particular coming from a hard background living in Samoa he had always been keen on pursuits that demonstrated a person’s physical and mental strength and encouraged us to participate in sports.”
Before joining the boxing gym in Papatoetoe, his father had a boxing bag and pads at home and used to train Joseph and his brother John.
“It was not until I was 11 years old however that my dad took my brother John and I to the Papatoetoe boxing gym to take up boxing as a serious sport and that was pretty much where my boxing career was launched,” he said.
When Parker was growing up he said he admired David Tua and Maselino Masoe who were from the same area as him.
“Both David Tua and Maselino Masoe did well at top-level international professional boxing,” said Parker. “Their success motivated me to do my best at boxing with the assurance that even a young guy from South Auckland could make it to the top in boxing.”
New Zealand doesn’t have a rich history of boxing and it isn’t a big sport there.
Parker played Rugby League throughout his youth.
“When my brother and I started at the Papatoetoe boxing gym and as I got more serious in boxing, we started to attend and participate in different tournaments, which I really enjoyed.
“There is no real funding in New Zealand for boxing and so if you want to take boxing to the next level you have to find ways to raise the funds for travel, gear and other associated costs as well as trying to find ways to find quality sparring to suit your age group, weight and level.
“My parents made a lot of sacrifices to fund our passion for boxing in terms of air travel, buying and cooking the appropriate foods to help with our training and buying all the gear that we needed.”
Parker credits is father Dempsey as the driving force behind his success.
“The Papatoetoe boxing gym held training for boxers three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings) and my dad supplemented training by way of taking us for evening runs, sparring with members of other boxing gyms where my dad knew the owners, swimming and extra bag and pad work at home.
“My mother Sala also played a big part as she also worked and helped in funding our boxing and would often take time out to counsel and motivate my brother and I.”
Parker’s mother and father migrated to New Zealand from Samoa in the early 1980s, they worked hard and made sacrifices for their children affording them opportunities and a better life in New Zealand.
“To this day my parents continue to work hard,” he said. “And seeing how hard my parents work to provide for our family really instilled in me the value of working hard and the importance of setting and achieving goals.
“Coming from a Samoan family and being the eldest son I always had a lot of responsibilities growing up which I am grateful for.
“After school usually consisted to coming home and going straight to fishing with my dad, fixing cars and accompanying him on other jobs that he had to do. At the time I didn’t appreciate the life lessons that were being taught to be, but looking back I now feel that having these responsibilities helped to build up my independence, work ethic and helped to keep me grounded.”
He says growing up his Samoan heritage was important to him as well as being from New Zealand. Parker comes from a religious family.
“I grew up being reminded constantly that whatever I do I am representing my family, my faith and my country,” said Parker. “Which drives me to try my best in all that I do.
“I had always felt that the best experiences that I had during my amateur career was times when I saw the New Zealand flag raised and the New Zealand anthem play and being happy at how I had represented my country.”
Parker missed out on appearing for the 2012 Olympics when he failed to reach the necessary stage at qualifying events.
“Although I was not able to qualify for the Olympics, I was somewhat content with the fact that I had been able to beat the boxers who did go on to do well at successive tournaments and qualify for the Olympics,” he said.
Dec. 15 – Richard Tutaki – TKO3
Nov. 9 – Terry Tuteru – KO2
July 5 – Dean Garmonsway – TKO1
Oct. 10 – Afa Tatupu – TKO2
Jun. 13 – Frans Botha – TKO2
May 16 – Brice Ritani-Coe – PTS6
Feb. 28 – Dontay Pati – TKO1
Aug. 9 – Keith Thompson – TKO3
July 7 – Brian Minto – RTD7
Apr. 26 – Marcelo Luiz Nascimento – TKO7