Hopes of a nation in Joseph Parker's hands
There's a couple of large boulders resting on Joseph Parker's shoulders in terms of the weight that comes with New Zealand boxing's future.
It is a lot for the youngster to handle and some will say an unfair expectation to lump on him, but that's reality.
New Zealand boxing is in desperate need for Parker to deliver in the next few years and move through the professional ranks.
Boxing in New Zealand struggles to push itself into the spotlight outside the celebrity market so having a flagship boxer in this country who can attract interest is a must for the sport.
We had David Tua, who must be respected for what he did for the promotion of boxing over the years.
To progress to a world title fight and to bring some notable bouts to New Zealand was a feather in boxing's cap in this country.
His days, however, have finally ended.
Shane Cameron is far from the class of Tua but he too must be respected for what he has done for the sport as far as marketing himself and boxing in such a big way.
Promoters have been able to hang events off his name.
However, my honest belief is that late tonight he will join Tua in falling off the boxing cliff.
Cameron is already struggling to get matchups against any big names and after a likely loss to Monte Barrett tonight, his career, it would seem, is likely to be doomed.
That leaves us searching for another name where the likes of promoters Duco Events can hang a major bout from in a fight night.
All roads point to Parker.
The 20-year-old south Aucklander will step in to the professional ranks for the first time tonight when he lines up against 28-year-old Dean Garmonsway, a 28-year-old Huntly College PE teacher, on the undercard to Cameron.
This fight will not be career-defining by any means but it will start his journey into the bigtime. A confident showing is a must.
If Parker can boldly work his way through the early fights of his professional career he will eventually attract some interest for some reasonable bouts in New Zealand and in the United States.
From what I have heard Parker is in the best shape ever and his management team, and in particular Duco Events, deserve some praise. If Parker is to be successful he needs good direction and his team have fitness guru Lee Parore on board to knock him into shape.
Parore was used to fine tune Tua for his bout against Cameron three years ago and we all know what sort of nick he was in for that fight.
He has been employed to do the same with Parker and many will hope for the same sort of results.
If Cameron loses tonight, and Parker cannot deliver on the potential he has in the coming years, boxing is left with just one thing in New Zealand when it comes to showcase events – celebrity boxing.
It's great for a charity but let's be frank, it isn't the real deal in terms of sport.
We need real boxers competing in meaningful contests.
The Southland Times