Parker-Barry boxer-trainer bond close as it gets
In just five months the Joseph Parker-Kevin Barry bond has developed to the point where it is as close as you will find in most coach-player sporting relationships.
At the start of this year the two hadn't met, but they now regard each other as family. They want to head side by side to a world title shot in the next five years.
Barry, of course, has done this before with another New Zealand heavyweight star in David Tua before it ended ugly over a financial dispute.
The 1984 Olympic medallist and well regarded trainer now has a spring in his step and is comfortable with the decision to bring another New Zealand heavyweight prospect into his life.
That he often suggests Parker is the best New Zealand boxing talent in 20 years gives away where he thinks Parker rates in comparison to Tua when he was also after a world title.
It doesn't take much time watching the two operate to see how tight Parker the boxer and Barry the trainer just are.
It has developed to the point where Parker knew exactly what Barry was thinking after the first round of his heavyweight showdown with Afa Tatupu in Auckland.
Parker was close to finishing Tatupu, but when Parker got too close they clashed heads, opening up a large gash over the 21-year-old's eye.
It was that bad the fight was close to being called off.
The fight plan was for Parker to keep his distance, but instead emotions took over and the two hard-hitting heavyweights brawled.
"As soon as he come to the corner I said sorry straight away," Parker told Fairfax Media yesterday.
"I already knew after the first round he wasn't happy. I already knew myself I did the wrong thing by brawling and standing there trading punches."
Parker agreed he has developed a strong bond with Barry, who he lives with in Las Vegas.
"He's a great coach, he's New Zealand's best coach that's been produced and he's a great guy. So I have a lot of respect for him not only as a coach and boxer but we're like family.
"I'm grateful to have someone like him in my corner. He's someone I can look up to and respect and he looks after me."
Barry said the pair have a lot of fun together in between all the training .
He agreed they were pretty close and was comfortable with that approach.
In the morning leading up to Thursday night's fight Parker showed off that respect for Barry, who was celebrating his 54th birthday.
"I tell you what, I woke and there's a knock on the door," Barry said.
"He's standing there, he's got a party hat on and a whistle and a gift, I went, 'You're kidding man'.
I just about cried, it was really good. I was really touched by it but I said to him though 'I don't need gifts or cakes, you know what I want for my birthday, the shiny new [New Zealand heavyweight] belt."
Parker and Barry will head back to Las Vegas in two weeks, but plans for the coming months, as far as fighting, are up in the air because of the nasty cut Parker received.
He had been scheduled to fight in Christchurch on November 28, but that will now not go ahead.
The chances of him fighting again this year are low as the Parkers give the cut time to repair properly.
The gash required five stitches inside the wound and another seven outside.
- Fairfax Media
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