Kevin Barry hits out at Joseph Parker's promoter
Boxing trainer Kevin Barry has criticised Joseph Parker's promoter for deliberately motivating his opponent ahead of their title fight.
"Sometimes I truly wonder what goes on inside Dean Lonergan's head," said Barry. "I wish that Dean would actually think before opening his big mouth."
The reaction comes after Lonergan of Duco Events offered Sonny Bill Williams $1 million to put his NZPBA heavyweight title on the line. Williams would meet the winner of Thursday's NZBF heavyweight title fight between Afa Tatupu and Parker in a belt unification bout.
Barry's concern is that Lonergan has now offered "a life changing opportunity" to Tatupu, a legitimate heavyweight puncher who had knocked out seven opponents.
His worries were well-founded, Lonergan later admitting that he timed the announcement to "test" Parker while saying Barry attempted to keep the fighter in "cotton wool".
"I am [annoyed] with the timing of this and ... with Dean Lonergan for actually doing it," said Barry.
"[Lonergan] is my boss and I get paid from his company and that, but the guy promotes and represents Joseph Parker and yet he motivates Joseph's opponents."
Despite condemnations from Williams' manager Khoder Nasser, the offer made to the Sonny Bill Williams has not been turned down and so remains a significant carrot for the 33-year-old Tatupu.
"He is fighting a dangerous puncher in Afa Tatupu and we certainly don't need to offer Afa a life changing opportunity for him and his family, if he can beat Joseph Parker," said Barry.
Barry said he spoke to Lonergan yesterday after reading the Star Times article in which Lonergan calls out Sonny Bill and Nasser.
"I am no-one's friggin puppet," said Barry. "And I said to [Lonergan] 'I don't know why this story has come out now, surely this offer could have waited until after Thursday's fight'."
The frustrations from the experienced former boxer, manager and trainer were exacerbated as he said this is not the first time this scenario had played out.
"He did the same thing to us with the Botha fight," said Barry. "He offered Botha the prize of a Tua fight if he beat Joseph."
Barry said he had raised the issue with [Lonergan] after the Botha fight and the promoter had "agreed in the end", the trainer then asked him to raise future announcements with him before going public.
"I said 'if you are going to do something like that, at least talk it over with me first.' Well he didn't."
As a trainer Barry said his only focus is to motivate his fighter. To physically and mentally prepare him to be at his best on a certain date and time. As such, he was also upset at the potential distraction this offer presented to Parker.
"It is bloody frustrating when one of your own team puts a mental roadblock in your way. I don't need Joseph thinking about Sonny Bill Williams at the moment, he is not fighting Sonny Bill Williams."
As soon as he saw the story this morning, Barry's first call was to Parker; his second call was to Lonergan.
Assurances from Barry were that Parker remains solely focused on the upcoming fight, despite the "interference '' from his promoter.
"Fighting for the New Zealand title inspired him and focused him to take his training to another level. We have had huge improvements from the Botha fight.
"I expect a tremendous performance by this young man. But in saying this, Dean doesn't make things any easier for us.''
Obviously at cross-purposes as to what is better for their 21-year-old charge, Lonergan said he deliberately planned the timing of the announcement to test Parker.
"The whole team is preparing Joseph for bigger things and right now we have to test Joseph," said Lonergan. "Part of Joseph's toughening up, in my opinion, is handling stuff outside the boxing ring and inside it.
"Kevin Barry needs to have a bit more faith in what he is doing and stop putting Joseph in cotton wool."
"Afa Tatupu is now incredibly motivated and I will be honest, if Joseph Parker can't overcome Afa Tatupu next week, we are going to have a serious look at it.
Of the potential rift the challenge to Williams has caused in the Parker camp, particularly following Barry's hard-hitting comments, Lonergan said there would always be diverging opinions.
"He has got his own mind. One thing I can't do to Kevin Barry is tell him what to say, he will run his own race."