Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker might have lost his W.B.O. title but in the eyes of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, he is still a winner.
In the wake of the fight in Cardiff on Sunday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said Samoa should be very proud of what Parker had achieved.
He was especially proud of the exposure Samoa received during the fight watched by 80,000 people at the Principality Stadium and millions of people from around the world.
Samoa’s national anthem was beautifully sung by Marlena Ott Devoe, who also sung the New Zealand national anthem. During the ring introductions, Michael Buffer used Parker’s two matai titles, a first for Parker away from New Zealand.
Watching the fight from Samoa, Tuilaepa said he felt pride and was nervous just like every other Samoan here and around the world.
In the end, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the loss was not the result we wanted but he congratulated Lupesoliai for a valiant effort.
He lamented the interference by the referee when Parker, who conceded the reach advantage, finally got inside Joshua.
“There are so many complaints about the fight on the internet today directly related to the referee,” he said. “So it makes it clear that Joseph Parker was fighting two opponents at the same time. He was fighting Joshua and at the same time he was fighting the referee.”
Tuilaepa said Lennox Lewis’s tribute to Parker was beautiful and he said it summed well the feelings of most people.
At the end of the fight, Lewis urged Parker to "keep on pushing" despite the setback.
"Definitely nothing to hang ur head for. Learn from this experience, learn new tactics and keep on pushing. Hands that fast have much further to take u than this. You've done NZ proud but ur not done. Bless [sic]," he said.
"Ref seemed too hurried to break them up at times... but it was a clear win for AJ and he showed maturity & patience [sic]."
Tuilaepa said Samoa should take pride in the fact Lupesoliai has become the first boxer to take Joshua through 12 rounds.
“Everyone that was there at the fight even placed bets that Joshua was going to knocking out Joseph Parker.
“But it took them by surprise that not only Parker survived the 12 rounds but Parker was still on fire and very much determined after the fight.”
As a Samoan, Tuilaepa said it was a very proud moment for him.
The Prime Minister said not many countries in the world get to experience this feeling. First with David Tua, Alex Leapai and now Lupesoliai.
But in terms of successes, the Prime Minister believes Samoa’s time will come.
He reckons Lupesoliai can redeem himself.
“Lupesoliai is still strong and young. He’s still got a lot of opportunities ahead of him to bounce back like every other World Champion.”
As for calls from some fans for Lupesoliai to get a new coach, Tuilaepa does not want to buy into it.
But he said there are a few things the Samoan heavyweight needs to change. For starters, he needs to find a new game plan and some new ideas.
It is not certain when Lupesoliai will return to Samoa. He arrived in New Zealand on Tuesday where he has gone straight back to training.