My big hit­ter can ‘shock the world’, says Parker’s men­tor

Trainer fa­mous for vic­tory over Evan­der Holy­field tells Gareth A Davies his un­der­dog can take belts

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Boxing -

Trainer Kevin Barry, the mastermind be­hind un­der­dog Joseph Parker’s as­sault on An­thony Joshua this week­end, ex­pects “a com­plete per­for­mance” from his pupil and is ut­terly con­vinced that the young New Zealan­der is about to “shock the world” and re­turn from Cardiff with three world heavy­weight ti­tles.

Barry, 58, a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter who em­ploys a blend of old-school box­ing ways and cut­ting-edge sports science, hails from New Zealand’s most fa­mous box­ing fam­ily, fought Evan­der Holy­field in con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances at the Olympic Games in Los An­ge­les in 1984 – when he won a sil­ver medal in the light-heavy­weight class – and trained the rum­bus­tious David Tua, when he un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged Len­nox Lewis for the world heavy­weight crown 18 years ago in Las Ve­gas. At the time, Tua had knocked out 80 per cent of his vic­tims. That event was, Barry now feels, “a dress re­hearsal” for this mo­ment.

“Len­nox Lewis was a great fighter, the best of that era, and was far too skil­ful for Tua. I was also far less ex­pe­ri­enced,” Barry ad­mit­ted to The Sun­day Tele­graph yes­ter­day.

“We fan­cied our chances of Tua catch­ing Lewis and knock­ing him out be­cause Tua had un­com­mon power. Even when you talk about the great­est punch­ers of all time, you have to have Tua in that group.”

In­deed, Tua had a left hook from hell, but Tua, in Barry’s words, “never showed up that night”.

“There was no Plan B. When he was un­able to land his knock­out left hook, he was lost. The oc­ca­sion got to him. He bought into the hype a lit­tle bit. I was also far less ex­pe­ri­enced then my­self.”

Parker, he af­firmed, is a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter al­to­gether, and the two men have planned for this mo­ment against Joshua for the past two years, af­ter train­ing camps in Las Ve­gas, where Barry has based him­self for al­most 20 years.

“The dif­fer­ence here in this fight is that Joshua is no Len­nox Lewis. They were both Olympic gold medal­lists, of course, and you can’t win one of them with­out a de­gree of skill. But I don’t think he’s a Len­nox Lewis. He might turn out to be bet­ter than Len­nox Lewis, but right now you can’t com­pare the two.”

Barry’s own box­ing story is in­trigu­ing. His fa­ther, also Kevin Barry, was awarded an MBE for ser­vices to box­ing, hav­ing been the Olympic and Com­mon­wealth Games coach for a num­ber of years, and trained Barry for the Olympics, where he met Holy­field in the Los An­ge­les Games semi-fi­nal, which was to be­come highly con­tro­ver­sial.

Barry was renowned for his jab and great chin, but re­ceived mul­ti­ple warn­ings for try­ing to hold Holy­field and was de­ducted two points for hold­ing and for re­peat­edly hit­ting Holy­field to the back of the head.

When ref­eree Glig­orije Novi­cic yelled break dur­ing a flurry of Holy­field punches in the sec­ond round, the Amer­i­can con­tin­ued to punch Barry, knock­ing him down. Novi­cic dis­qual­i­fied Holy­field for hit­ting af­ter the break.

As Barry was knocked out by Holy­field’s il­le­gal punch, un­der health reg­u­la­tions he was not al­lowed to box for 28 days and hence pulled out of the fi­nal against Yu­goslav An­ton Josipovic. Barry took the sil­ver medal and be­came the first boxer in 56 years to win a medal at the Olympic Games for New Zealand. “It took me a cou­ple of years to get over it,” ex­plained Barry.

“I was a very, very proud guy. I knew I was fight­ing well, but I knew I was com­ing sec­ond against a very good fighter. I walked over and lifted his hand up. I was so proud for my fam­ily and my sup­port­ers that I’d been guar­an­teed New Zealand’s first ever medal, but I felt so tainted when I got the sil­ver and he got the bronze.”

“Joe’s met Evan­der. Early in his ca­reer, Evan­der rang me up and said he was form­ing this pro­mo­tional com­pany and would love to do some work with Joe down in the South Pacific. I told him we had a pro­moter and were on a six-year contract. A cou­ple of times I was sit­ting in the car with Joe on the way back from train­ing and the phone would ring and it would be Evan­der. We’d just chat away and Joe would be lis­ten­ing.”

Back to this week­end, and Barry is con­vinced that Joshua’s style is per­fect for his fighter. “Joseph has al­ways looked at his best when fight­ers come to him. We know Joshua will not be mov­ing back­wards.

“That’s an­other thing that ex­cites us about this fight. We will have him com­ing on to Parker’s power.

“On pa­per, this is a very fan-friendly fight. Both th­ese guys have been on a col­li­sion course for three years. We have known for a long time that we would be fight­ing Joshua as long as Joe stayed un­de­feated and Joshua stayed un­de­feated.

“There hasn’t been a uni­fi­ca­tion fight in the heavy­weight divi­sion for seven years. Now we have two of the youngest world cham­pi­ons in heavy­weight box­ing, both un­de­feated, clash­ing for three heavy­weight belts.

“This is very ex­cit­ing for my­self as a coach, but it’s very, very ex­cit­ing for Joseph.

“It’s the chal­lenge he has al­ways needed, fight­ing some­one who many peo­ple be­lieve is the best heavy­weight in the world.

“It’s a real chal­lenge and a chance for Joseph to find out about him­self, to find out how good he is at the high­est level. Joe, I be­lieve, has more tal­ent than both Deontay Wilder [the WBC heavy­weight cham­pion] and Joshua. I see skill in the gym on a daily ba­sis.

“My chal­lenge to Joe is to give me a com­plete fight. Just to do what I know he can do.

“If he does that he will be very hard to de­feat on March 31.”

Driv­ing force: The rich box­ing pedi­gree of trainer Kevin Barry (right) is be­hind the rise of Joseph Parker to WBO heavy­weight cham­pion

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