Joseph Parker primed for the world stage
Trainer Kevin Barry has used his invaluable contacts to ensure young Kiwi boxing heavyweight Joseph Parker has a world-class buildup to this month's key fight with Sherman Williams.
The fight in Germany is on the undercard of the April 27 world heavyweight title bout between Wladimir Klitschko and Australian-Samoan Alex Leapai, offering Parker unprecedented exposure.
Williams, the durable veteran from the Bahamas, is on his way to Austria today to join the Klitschko camp as a sparring partner where he will replicate Leapai's size and style.
Williams was in Auckland yesterday and said battling the big Ukrainian in the training ring would help his preparations to ''put Parker on his arse''.
But Parker isn't being outdone in terms of preparations.
He heads back to Las Vegas today to resume sparring with Bermane Stiverne, the Haitian who is the WBC's top-ranked heavyweight and fights American Chris Arreola for Vitali Klitschko's vacant world belt in Los Angeles next month.
Barry is a good friend of Stiverne's manager Don House and arranged for the two to work out in the ring together.
It comes with illustrious surroundings as Stiverne uses Floyd Mayweather's headquarters.
Parker is eight weeks into his training camp that has been split between Auckland and Vegas.
''We've just done five weeks in Vegas and the last three weeks have been a big sparring phase,'' Barry said yesterday as he joined Williams and Parker at the Auckland media stopover.
Parker has done 75 rounds, including three sessions with Stiverne and has ''another three or four'' planned with him over the coming week.
It's a good arrangement that has both fighters working on their own plans rather than accommodating the needs of their opponents. It's competitive and for someone like Parker, who has just seven fights as a pro and only 17 rounds under his belt, it's invaluable.
''We aren't told we can't do this or we can't do that, or we wouldn't be there,'' Barry said.
''We are doing what we want to do, working on what we want to work on. He [Stiverne] is trying to work on things he needs.
''Stiverne is a big guy, a lot bigger than Williams. He's appreciating what Joseph is providing. And it brings good pressure, which is very important for us.''
Barry was disappointed at having to fly to Auckland for three days to promote the fight, believing Parker had lost 24 rounds of sparring work.
''But it is what it is; that's the fight game - we'll have four more sparring sessions when we get back to Vegas before flying to Germany.''
Parker said he was thrilled to be working with Stiverne, especially at Mayweather's camp.
Not having fought since his second-round demolition of Afa Tatupu last October, Parker was ''very keen to get back in the ring''.
He had used the six months' break to allow his split left eyebrow to heal properly. And he'd also been working hard on his stamina.
''We have used the time very well, we've been very busy. I'm feeling really good mentally and physically,'' Parker said.
''We know that Sherman is a good fighter with a good record of going the distance. That's meant I have had to train to counter that.''