Parker earns boxing credibility
and, on the evidence of the Takam fight, belongs in that elevated company.
New Zealand has a surprisingly long connection with top world heavyweight boxing.
A Maori, Herbert Slade, fought the legendary John L Sullivan at Madison Square Garden in 1883. A few years later Southlander Dan Creedon fought all the leading heavyweights during his time in the US.
Then Bob Fitzsimmons, born in Cornwall but raised in Timaru, won the world title in a famous fight against James J Corbett in 1897. (For good measure Fitz won the world light-heavyweight and middleweight crowns too.)
In 1928 Tom Heeney of Gisborne fought Gene Tunney for the heavyweight crown. In the 1930s, Morris Strickland went within an inch of earning a crack at the great Brown Bomber, Joe Louis.
Into the 1990s, Jimmy Thunder (previously Peau) won two lightly regarded world titles, beating Melton Bowen in Queensland in 1993 for the World Boxing Federation title and Ray Anis in 1995 for the International Boxing Organisation title.
They meant little, but nonetheless Thunder could box. Sad to reflect he’s 50 now and has fallen on extremely hard times.
New Zealand’s last top-flight heavyweight, before Parker, was David Tua, who fought the best around in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He met Lennox Lewis for the world title in Las Vegas in 2000 and was outclassed, but thoroughly deserved his title shot.
Kevin Barry trained Tua and is now in Parker’s corner. It says much for Barry that he has done well with such different boxers.
Tua was short, squat, powerful and prone to packing on weight between fights. Parker is tall (1.93m), understated, always looks in peak shape and has an impressive all-round technique.
For now it’s all eyes on Parker. He deserves the attention after that performance against Takam.
Joseph Parker digs a left into the body of Carlos Takam during their exciting heavyweight fight.