One punch may wreck everything, says Parker
Auckland boxer Joseph Parker might not be as nervous about tomorrow night's Christchurch fight as the man he was meant to fight but knows one wayward punch and his plans would take a technical knockout.
Parker, 21, fights little known Dontay Pati at the Hornby Working Men's Club tomorrow but The Press understands he was meant to fight Dontay's younger but more experienced brother, Junior.
The fight promoters said Junior, whose name still adorns the promotional posters, pulled out injured but a source close to the fight confirmed he simply changed his mind about fighting Parker amid fears for his own safety.
Instead of fighting Junior, who has 25 professional fights, Parker will fight Dontay who has just one.
And that fight was three years ago as a cruiserweight.
Parker is not too worried who lines up against him, he is more worried about doing his own job.
"Some people say the people I'm fighting are bums but I don't see it like that," Parker said.
"Every man who gets in that ring has the ability to hurt you."
With big raps coming from all over, Parker is meant to be padding his record, learning how to be a professional and building to bigger and better things.
But he knows what a loss, especially at this stage of his career, can do.
"All it takes is one punch, one big punch and that could wreck everything for me," he said. "That does make me a bit nervous, because people think I should beat all these guys, but I'm still learning what I'm doing as well."
And the lure of being the first man that stopped Joseph Parker is a major motivating factor for whomever he fights.
Parker had a 3-0 record so far and is likely to fight at least half-a-dozen times this year. He's already lined up to fight in April in Melbourne and yesterday it was confirmed that Parker's promoters, Duco, had agreed to terms with South African Johan Botha, the man who recently lost to Sonny Bill Williams in controversial circumstances.
That fight that has led to Parker's manager, Sir Bob Jones, quitting over the suitability of pitching the youngster against Botha.
Parker is now searching for a specialist sports management company to handle his affairs.
But Parker's promoter, David Higgins of Duco Events, is going ahead with a Botha fight, believing Botha will draw attention while also presenting the necessary lift in opposition for the 21-year-old New Zealander.
"We respect Sir Bob and his opinions," Higgins said. "He is a bit of a purist when it comes to opponent selection, looking at the technicalities . . . We, as well as looking at that side of it, also look at the promotional side."
Parker says he is fitter than he has ever been and was keen to show the people of Christchurch just how well his progress was coming along.
However, the Parker-Pati fight is not the main event tomorrow. Christchurch light heavyweight. Reece Papuni has that honour.
Papuni puts his undefeated record on the line against another undefeated professional, Ritchie Harris.
Parker and Papuni were both New Zealand amateur champions and a third man with the same claim, Nort Beauchamp, will make his professional debut tomorrow night.
There will be another professional fight involving Christchurch's Matt Te Paa and four corporate fights, one including former world champion trotting driver Mark Jones.