Razvan Cojanu has the inside knowledge on Joseph Parker for WBO title fight
Joseph Parker has boxed about 100 rounds with Razvan Cojanu but feels he doesn't know the real Romanian he fights for the WBO world heavyweight title next week.
The 30-year-old Cojanu arrived in Auckland on Wednesday, never hesitating to take up the "dream" invitation to replace the injured Hughie Fury and keep the May 6 promotion in Auckland alive at such late notice.
There was no need for introductions. Cojanu, with his 2.02m frame, was Parker's main sparring partner for last year's win over the massive Russian Alexander Dimitrenko and recently completed 44 rounds in Las Vegas helping Parker prepare for the equally sizey Fury.
It's an ironic situation but not unique. Looks at this weekend's super-fight in London where Anthony Joshua, twice a sparring partner for Wladimir Klitschko, takes on the former champion with two belts on the line.
* Hughie Fury waits on new boxing licence
* Injury forces Fury out of Parker fight
* Fury camp hits back at Team Parker
* Parker takes big cut for rearranged fight
* Parker's boss doubts Fury injury
It's the immediacy of this situation that sets it apart.
But that doesn't make it any easier for Parker. He's had Cojanu, who boasts a 16-2 pro record on the back of an Olympic appearance and more than 300 amateur fights, trying to replicate other styles of Dimitrenko and Fury rather than the Romanian fighting his own game.
Now that's about to happen and it's left Parker doing some quick homework.
"I don't think I even know the real Razvan," Parker said. "He was trying to fight like the opponents that I was fighting, now I'm starting to wonder what he actually fights like.
"The way I see this fight, it's actually more dangerous than the Hughie Fury fight. The reason I say that is because Raz has power, her knows how I fight, he knows my style and technique. He was my main sparring partner, he gave me my best work. It's a fight where I'm looking forward to seeing who is going to figure the other out first."
The chirpy Cojanu, ranked No 14 by the WBO, believes he has a head start.
"I know him from the training camp and I know a lot of his mistakes, I know a lot of his strategies. I know him and I know myself. In the camp, I did 50 to 60 to 70 per cent (effort) maximum. In the fight I will go 100 per cent."
Cojanu said he was "shocked" by the development. He thanked Fury for pulling out and voiced his appreciation for being selected by the Parker camp from the WBO's top 15, as stipulated.
"I didn't accept this fight because of the money. If I get a title shot I'm going to say yes. I'm training for this, a lot of fighters are training for this chance all their life and they don't get it. I'm coming here not to fight Joseph Parker, I'm here to prove to the whole world that I can knock Joseph Parker out," he said.
"Don't be upset that Fury has pulled out, we are going to have a better fight than that."
Parker said after a five month break he was desperate to fight and never considered abandoning the fight if a suitable replacement could be found.
Parker's trainer Kevin Barry felt that was the mark of a champion and his fighter's challenge now was to make quick and unexpected adjustments.
"When you become the heavyweight champion of the world, you have to become the heavyweight champion of all styles," Barry said.
"That's why I said to Joe we could just pull out now, our opponent is out, we don't have to fight, we can regroup, have a break for a couple of months and come back for a training camp. And Joe goes, 'coach, you know we have trained hard for 12 weeks, I need to fight'.
"Joe is right ... he needs the fight and that is why we are prepared to take the risk".
Barry said he kept his camps open to his sparring partners besides their time in the ring, meaning Cojanu was now in a privileged position with his depth of knowledge of Parker. "Razvan probably knows more about Joe than any opponent that Joe has fought. "
Barry said they had thought about fighting Cojanu previously "but we never took that route and I think that speaks volumes".
Cojanu has been in demand because of his size and talent. He has sparred with Charles Martin, Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte.
"When you are at this sort of level, you bring the best people in. You don't bring people who aren't going to give you world class work.l If you are a world class athlete or a world class fighter, you need world class guys to train with and that is why we have had this guy with us," Barry said.
"He is experienced, he knows how to fight, he has all the tricks. This fight is a very risky fight for me because of those circumstances."