Dean Lonergan adds spice to Joseph Parker fight
Dean Lonergan is calling out Sonny Bill Williams, Kevin Barry is calling out Lonergan and Joseph Parker is too nice a guy to call anyone out.
This is heavyweight boxing, New Zealand style, with $1.3 million in spice added to Thursday night's Duco Events-promoted heavyweight title fight between the stable's rising Kiwi star Joseph Parker and 33-year-old champion Afa Tatupu.
Parker is challenging Tatupu for his New Zealand National Boxing Federation heavyweight title at the Trusts Arena in West Auckland, and expected to win comfortably in the scheduled 10-rounder.
But Duco's Lonergan has added some incentive for both by challenging Sonny Bill Williams to put his New Zealand Professional Boxing Association heavyweight title up for grabs against the winner - read Parker - in a $A1 million (NZ$1.35m) winner-takes-all affair to unify the division.
Lonergan's thinking is that Williams has to defend the title within six months of a challenge being issued, or have it stripped. The reality is Williams could have closer to two years before he has to fight Parker, providing he takes on a top-10 contender in the next six months.
Lonergan clearly hopes to goad Williams into the matchup. "He needs to accept this fight for his own credibility," said the bullish promoter. "You can run around fighting guys with bigger breasts than Dolly Parton for only so long."
Williams' manager Khoder Nasser has already responded coolly to the callout, suggesting he would not be taking up the offer from an organisation he considers "amateur".
But Lonergan's buoyancy had not cooled by yesterday's promotion involving the full card for Thursday night.
"We want this fight to happen, and we'll bend over backwards to make it happen," Lonergan said. "Khoder says we're amateurs but we're happy to bring in intermediaries who could maybe negotiate the deal."
A Parker-Williams fight would bring some much-needed credibility to the sport, but it also has the potential to derail the SBW boxing show big time, so do not pin much hope of it happening any time soon.
Parker's trainer Kevin Barry yesterday reiterated his annoyance at Lonergan waving this in front of his young stud so close to a potentially tricky bout against Tatupu.
"I threatened to knock his teeth out," said Barry, with a smile. "We don't need it. A little bit of common-sense goes a long way at a time like this. I've got Joseph finely tuned physically and mentally at the moment and we didn't need any outside interference coming in."
Barry's theory is that Duco has provided a massive incentive for Tatupu to score an upset victory over Parker, with a potential $1m payday the result.
"Tatupu is by far the best puncher we've fought against, and I didn't need Dean offering him and his family a life-changing opportunity," said Barry. "It's going to make him try a lot harder. We planned on giving him a reason to quit early, but we may need to be little more clinical now."
The person least fazed by it all appears to be Parker, who cut a relaxed figure at Duco's downtown Auckland offices yesterday.
"It is sort of a distraction," Parker said. "If the winner out of us two fights Sonny Bill, it's motivating for both of us. I guess it's dangerous that it's my promoters doing the motivating."
But Parker said his focus was purely on Tatupu, whom he respected. "He's a big puncher and he's durable. No-one has seen me go past three or four rounds, so everyone has that question mark.
"He's a dangerous fighter, but I know I've prepared the best I can and know I can go into those later rounds if I have to."
As for Williams lurking in his future, let's just say Parker wasn't joining the taunting.
"Sonny is a great guy, a humble dude, and he's a talented athlete. I'd love to fight Sonny. It's a good fight we can both make some good money out of, and also unify the titles."