Joseph Parker, Kevin Barry come out swinging
Joseph Parker and trainer Kevin Barry have defended the Kiwi heavyweight's punching power as they put the finishing touches on the first defence of his WBO title.
Parker takes on Romanian Razvan Cojanu - a late replacement for the injured Hughie Fury - on Saturday, although there was no escaping the glare of Anthony Joshua's spectacular triumph over Wladimir Klitschko when he fronted media at a central Auckland gym on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old was peppered with questions about a potential match-up with Joshua, who added the WBA and IBO belts to his IBF strap with an 11th-round stoppage of Klitschko, as well as the American WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
Around 90,000 packed into Wembley Stadium to watch Joshua establish himself as arguably the No 1 heavyweight on the planet and, as speculation builds over his next opponent, it has led boxing pundits in the UK and America to question whether Parker has the power to foot it with the best of the best.
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But while his main focus is on Cojanu, Parker says his critics are in for a big surprise when he eventually heads north.
"Say what you want to say and believe what you want to believe, is it about power or is it about speed?" Parker asked. "Can he catch me or can he not? We'll see.
"They don't think that we're up to that level but when we do get in the ring with them they'll see."
Barry was much more forthright in his response on Joshua, who fought back brilliantly against Klitschko after being dropped in the sixth round.
"I can promise you this," Barry added. "If Joseph Parker hits Anthony Joshua on the chin and had him on his back like he was in the sixth round, that fight would've been over. There'd be no rounds seven to 11."
Parker's failure to finish Carlos Takam and Andy Ruiz - two hugely underrated fighters in Barry's opinion - means it is easy to overlook his knockout ability.
But Barry has no doubt that any perceived lack in power is more than compensated for by Parker's lightning hand speed.
"Joseph's got a lot of impressive one-punch knockouts.
"Does he hit as hard as Anthony Joshua? No, I don't think he does but when you combine Joe's power with his speed that combination is as lethal as anything Joshua has."
Saturday's bout at the Vodafone Events Centre is likely to be Parker's last in New Zealand for some time. Although, there is no doubt that Fury's withdrawal two weeks ago and the amazing scenes at Wembley have taken some of the gloss off the occasion.
An emphatic knockout would provide the perfect reminder to the rest of the world that Parker is indeed a force to be reckoned with.
Having sparred with Cojanu previously, there is no way Parker is looking past his opponent.
And, as Barry said, it's a dangerous game walking into a ring simply expecting an early finish.
"When you go out there try hard to be sensational and to get a great knockout that's when your performance suffers," Barry said.
"We're going to follow our game plan, we're going to look to break this guy down, we're going to fight a very complete fight. And if during that performance there's a knockout that would be great but Joe won't be going out there trying to get a knockout to satisfy the requirements of anyone else."
Taking on a new opponent at such short notice can be risky but Parker has no concerns and feels better prepared than what he was for his historic victory over Ruiz in December.
"The training camp that we had was a lot better, there's no comparison," Parker said.
"The changes that has come before this fight hasn't really affected me because I feel like I'm ready for whatever situation comes my way.
"Physically I feel great because I had a rest after the Ruiz fight. Now I'm itching to get back in the ring, letting my hands go and hitting someone - and that's Razvan."