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.

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