Sports

Two Sides of Fury: Separating Hyperbole and Trajectory When it Comes to Joseph Parker

When does the fire start outgrowing the smoke on Joseph Parker?
April 11, 2017, 9:29pm
Prime TV/Youtube

The drums are beating. Away in the hills, thunder is starting to crack and roll. Wind is sweeping through the town's streets. Bottle stores are being eyed up, and bars are getting extra supplies in. Grand plans are being hatched.

There's an excitement around the traps, but honestly inquisitive whispers too: 'is Joseph Parker really legit? Hasn't he just fought has-beens and bums? Really, I mean really, could be become the Champ?"

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For the last couple of years in New Zealand, it has been difficult to answer those questions; especially the first and last ones.

BARBS, BITTERNESS AND BURGER KING: REVIEWING THE FALLOUT FROM JOSEPH PARKER'S WBO HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT

Parker's fight promoters – Duco Events – have done a truly masterful job of controlling the media narrative around the 25-year-old Kiwi with the foreboding 22-0 (18 by knockout) fight record.

Frequent paid-for trips for journalists to training camps, glitzy press conferences and a ready parade of boxing experts and personalities to go on camera, or record, to talk about whatever bout was on the way has created a constant, thoroughly effective low-heatboil of press on the Big Kiwi.

In Parker too, they have a thoroughly accessible young bloke whose polite, well-mannered approach to his sport and the public feeds into New Zealand cultural wet dreams of laconic sportsmen - i.e. Sir Ed and Pinetree Meads - of days gone by.

You can't fault Duco, one iota. They're selling a product and they're doing it bloody well. So well that the cost of a pay-per-view for last December's bout for the vacant WBO heavyweight belt against Andy Ruiz Jr cost Kiwi punters NZ$59.95; a cost set by Duco not cable providers Sky TV.

Add in a box or two of piss and maybe a few pizzas and chips, and you've got an pretty expensive night in for your average Kiwi sports fan - and one that didn't really deliver entertainment-wise. Parker won, by a fine margin, but it was a low quality whose result drew controversy.

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Duco's full-court press on the Kiwi sports media worked, though. Tweets about the fight, from media members, were retweeted ad nauseum, while New Zealand's biggest paper ran an A1 salute to the first Kiwi ever to win a heavyweight title the following page. In impressively stark colours, at first glance, you'd have sworn Parker had just knocked out Ali in Manilla or something.

Congratulations Joseph Parker! — nzherald (@nzherald)December 10, 2016

Burger King - partial sponsors of the Big Night - sold high on the event; declaring Whoppers would only be two bucks for six hours (between 11am and 5pm) the day after the bout.. Those same media retreaters were back. A nation gorged itself.

Parker hadn't knocked out the Greatest or anything, but, fair play, he was the WBO title holder. A rising talent for a couple of years on the world scene, now Parker was about to get a few extra look-ins.

Four months later, and he's on the cusp of his first semi-legit challenger as a title holder. On May 6, Hughie Fury - cousin of talented, but troubled English heavyweight Tyson - will take on the Kiwi at Auckland's Vector Arena; scene of the Ruiz bout.

The hyperbole is building again. Legendary English boxer Ricky Hatton has talked up Fury's chances against Parker, while the young man himself, speaking with English media at his training camp in Bolton, described Parker as a superior boxer than the divisions top trio; IBF champion Anthony Joshua, American power king Deontay Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko, the former undisputed world champ.

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"They've got all their own strengths but I think Joseph Parker is the best out there at the minute," he says. "He's the toughest fight between all three of them because he's hungry and I do think he's the fighter out there."

A documentary on Joseph Parker's WBO title fight against Andy Ruiz Jr last December. Source: Youtube.

Parker should deal to the young Fury in Auckland - expect trench warfare like the Ruiz scrap, especially in the first few rounds, before Parker makes a statement - and it really shouldn't be too close. Hughie is an interesting heavyweight prospect, but is still maybe three or four years away from being a ready contender.

Though undefeated – he sports a 20-0 record with ten knockouts – the Brit's opponents have been a far few notches down from Parker's while the last year has seen the Brit largely out of action as he's battled a rare skin condition.

Tune out the Duco Hype Machine, and even the biggest boxing cynic would agree Parker's got some real clout in the ring. He's quick, hits hard and rarely loses focus or becomes emotional when a fight isn't going his way. Tune out the breathless write-ups the days after the Fury fight, and consider his likely next opponent; Joshua or Klitschko.

The Brit and Ukrainian veteran meet in Wembley the week before (April 29) the Parker vs Fury scrap. The winner will unify the IBF, WBA and IBO titles - and has every chance of being the Kiwi's next opponent in the Ring. Then, we can start about getting the fireworks out of the box.

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That fight won't be in Auckland - Klitschko's trainer Jonathan Banks recently hinted that Parker would be in line for the scrap if maybe he (Duco) get him out of New Zealand for rings in the States - but will definitely see Parker revealed for what he is, or isn't.

Mike Angove, New Zealand's top boxing experts, told VICE Sports AUNZ that a fight against the Ukranian veteran would be a slightly easier proposal for Parker, at this stage.

Cult hero English boxer Ricky Hatton believes Joseph Parker is a better boxer than Deontay Wilder, but believes Hughie Fury could give the Kiwi a scare. Source: Youtube.

"Klitschko has got a very effective style, but we know what he does and he's sparred in camp [with Parker]," he says. "He'll have some knowledge there which he'll bank away – and Kevin Barry is a very smart trainer."

If Joshua wins, the Parker camp will be looks at possible chinks in the armour, Angove says. "They will be looking at how does he get hit," he says.

"If Klitschko is successful at slowing him down for parts of the fight, how does he go about doing that. What defensive problems are solved, and what does he have to present. "There's a lot to look at, but you've got to remember. Joshua is 6'6" and Klitschko is a similar height, but Joe Parker is a shorter fighter.

"He's only 6'4", and his reach is only the same span as his height. He would actually have to fight, tactically, a lot different fight than say Klitschko. In terms of body styles, any fight Parker would be a different fight style-wise."

It's a huge year for Parker, any way you look at it. The big Kiwi's actual standing as a boxer will be finally truly formed. That's exciting for Parker himself, Duco - and expectant news editors nationwide.

Until then though, the smoke will keep outgrowing the fire. Maybe just stand a few metres back, for now.