NZ boxing 'legend' David Tua backs Lennox Lewis-styled Joseph Parker in world title fight
Joseph Parker is honoured to have the support of one of his idols, David Tua, for his heavyweight world title shot.
Parker fights Mexican Andy Ruiz in Auckland on December 10 and Tua has given his backing to the 24-year-old.
"I support what he's doing. I think he's doing a fantastic job. He knows what's at stake and I'm sure he'll do well," Tua said.
Tua fought Lennox Lewis for the world title in Las Vegas in 2000 but came up short, losing in a unanimous points decision.
Parker is hoping to go one better and to hear he has Tua in his corner is another confidence boost in a buildup where home support is booming.
Tua hopes to be ringside for the fight, adding to the Samoan flavour for the promotion, which will also see New Zealand's UFC star Mark Hunt in attendance.
"David is one fo the fighters I've looked up to and still look up to," Parker said.
"He is pretty much the best fighter New Zealand has produced. He has knocked out three or four champions, he could have been champion himself but probably didn't get the right opportunities.
"For me, he's a legend in this country and to have his backing is very exciting for me."
Parker and Tua are both Samoans who honed their fighting skills in New Zealand but retain their proud island heritage. They share a common trainer in Kevin Barry who now gets a second chance at trying to oversee history and help land New Zealand's first heavyweight world title.
Parker even intends to employ some of the lessons from Tua's world title heartbreak for his his shot at glory.
He has received advice from Lewis who told the Kiwi to maximise his height and reach advantage against Ruiz, much the same way Lewis did to frustrate the shorter but dangerous Tua, keeping the Kiwi's deadly left hook at bay.
"I'm going to do my best to fight like how Lennox Lewis did. You have to use your jab, use your reach and that advantage that you have," Parker said.
"The jab is going to be key. I'm obviously going to try to box from the outside."
Tua continues to work in boxing, running his Onehunga gym and training fighters.
Tua, 44, ended his long professional career in 2013 with a loss to Alexander Ustinov in Hamilton. He finished with 52 wins, 5 losses and two draws.
Tua had to wait 39 fights and eight long years to get his shot at the title with the belt holders openly avoiding his considerable dangers.
Parker gets his title opportunity on the back of just 21 unbeaten fights in a four-year professional career, taking advantage of a heavyweight division thrown wide open by the demise of Wladimir Klitschko in the ring and Tyson Fury out of it.