Tua loss fuels Barry’s bid against Joshua
Trainer Kevin Barry will ensure there is no stage fright, reports Duncan Johnstone.
Joseph Parker will not be overawed like David Tua was for his shot at fame. That’s the firm message from the trainer who has guided both of New Zealand’s premier modern heavyweights.
More than 17 years after Tua took on Lennox Lewis in Las Vegas, Kevin Barry has conceded the occasion got to the Kiwi-Samoan who never got his famed left hook going and hardly fired a shot in anger during 12 frustrating rounds.
Barry vows there will be no stage fright from Parker despite the prospect of fighting in front of 78,000 people in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium when he takes on Anthony Joshua, putting his WBO title up against the big Brit’s WBA and IBF versions in a major step towards unifying the glamour division.
‘‘David Tua was overawed by the occasion against Lennox Lewis, this will not happen to Joseph Parker,’’ Barry told Stuff.
He and Parker have already begun a gruelling 10-week training camp – there will be 15 sessions this week – where the early emphasis will be on dropping Parker’s weight to rediscover his foot movement and hand speed, two major attributes that have helped him preserve an unbeaten record and earn a shot at history.
Barry says Parker’s other key attributes are his confidence and composure and they continue to grow.
‘‘Joe is the calmest fighter I’ve known. He is ready for this,’’ Barry said, adding there was ‘‘no surprise’’ in this fight finally being made and that added to his belief Parker would be physically and mentally ready for his opponent and the setting.
The fight had been in the making for the past three years as the two exciting young heavyweights charted a similar course towards an inevitable confrontation.
They had planned accordingly. While Parker worked his way through 24 fights and got his hands on the WBO belt, all the time Joshua was in the back of his and Barry’s minds. Their data base on Joshua had steadily built, new twists had been added to the trademark traits they believe leave him vulnerable to Parker’s style and developing game.
‘‘Joe and I have sat down and watched all of Anthony Joshua’s fights ... we have a log book, we have play books. We knew this day was going to come, we knew that provided both fighters stayed unbeaten that we would be sharing a ring with him,’’ Barry said.
‘‘Joseph is a historian and knows this fight is about his place in history. He’ll give every single piece of sweat and ounce of blood in his body to be the best,’’ Barry said of a fight that will unify three versions of the four world heavyweight titles for the first time since Wladimir Klitschko beat David Haye for the same belts in July 2011.
The moment isn’t lost on Barry either and he is adamant he can learn from the Tua-Lewis experience himself. He and Parker had held their composure to beat Andy Ruiz to win the WBO belt in Auckland in December 2016 but defending it on this scale was another matter.
Barry will have his son Taylor alongside him in Parker’s corner, having been part of the training team and a virtual brother to Parker since the fighter starting living with them in Las Vegas in 2013.
‘‘I was sitting down with my son the other day and I said the last time we had something of this size you were just a boy, it was Tua v Lewis, November 2000. It’s a long time between big events,’’ Barry said.
‘‘I was at a different stage of my life and there were a couple of things that I did wrong then that I wish I’d done differently. It wasn’t the experience that I would have liked it to be and I’m not saying that because of the result, I’m saying that because I was so committed to being the best manager I could be and to do everything at that level to the best of my ability that I didn’t really have time to step back and look at the experience and say, wow that doesn’t get any bigger. The Mandalay Bay absolutely packed, you couldn’t move in the place.
‘‘But I was so set on my job that I let it take control of everything else. My message now is, enjoy the experience because we may never get another one like this, we never know. That’s why we have to make the most of it.
‘‘We have worked so hard for the last five years we have to enjoy the occasion. It’s very big deal, the Principality Stadium with 80,000, being shown globally around the world.
‘‘This is an occasion that I’m excited about myself and I know Joe is excited. We have to feed off that.’’
Parker was guilty of some sloppy work over his first two title defences against Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury and knows anything similar will be a disaster against a fighter as ruthless as Joshua who has the perfect record of 20 consecutive knockouts.
Barry has spoken of the need for the 26-year-old Parker to produce a career-defining performance.
‘‘This will be our greatest training camp, everything that we have worked on in the last five years with Joe will come together and this will be Joe’s best-ever performance and I know that ... I know that’s what he is going to give me,’’ Barry said
‘‘And I’m going to need his bestever performance against a very big, a very powerful guy with huge height and reach advantage. Joe is going to have to use his movement, he’s going to have to use his hand speed. He is going to have to use all his skills.’’
We have worked so hard for the last five years we have to enjoy the occasion. Kevin Barry