The time has come. After all the talk, the hype and pre-fight build up, we are literally hours away from the start of a showdown that could give this nation one of her proudest sporting moments yet.
Lupesoliai Joseph Parker’s attempt at the WBO heavyweight title at the Vector Arena tonight has this nation and all Samoans praying. They are hoping and they are praying that all will go well.
The feeling is not new when it comes to title fights. As a nation, we’ve been there before.
We remember with fondness the time when David Tua’s cry for everyone to show their support by wearing the ulafala during the week of his title shot. We remember waking up that morning with such high hopes. Alas it wasn’t to be.
Then there was the most recent attempt by Alex the Lionheart Leapai in Germany against Vladimir Klitschko. Again it wasn’t to be.
So today is the third time for a Samoan to have a crack at the most coveted belt in the world boxing. And here we are again, full of excitement, anticipation, praying and hoping that this time around, Lupesoliai will bring home the goods.
We believe he can and we have a good feeling about this.
This is a historic event. The fact that it is happening in our backyard makes it even more special. For Parker, it has taken a while, there have been some bumps and barriers here and there but we are here.
Up to this point, Andy Ruiz Jnr and Parker have been very reserved. They have been the nicest of foes. But it is hard to deny that they are deadly serious.
“This is my chance. I didn’t come all the way to New Zealand to lose,” Ruiz cautioned. “I came here to do my best and with God on my side my hand is going to be raised up in the air. On December 10 I’m going to take that belt back to Mexico and the United States.”
During their official press conference, the Mexican looked to be in the shape of his life. He is also claiming the underdog tag.
“A lot of people are underestimating me ... the way I look or how I am. I know a lot of people are and that gives me more motivation,” Ruiz said. “I’m an exciting fighter, I can be a pressure fighter, I can move around, I like to throw my combinations and jabs. I think on December 10 there’s going to be a lot of mix-up of things I can do.”
If that was meant to be a bait; Parker did not fall for it.
“We are not underestimating Andy Ruiz. He is a very dangerous fighter, he is in great shape,” Parker counted. “He has a lot of strengths and we have been doing our homework and analysing what his strengths are. I have a lot of respect for Andy Ruiz.
“We are a couple of young hungry fighters who are going to go out there and do our best. He wants to take the belt back to Mexico and America but I want to keep this belt here. I’m going to do everything in my power to win this fight and win this belt.”
Both fighters said they were motivated at the prospect of being their countries first heavyweight champion.
“There’s extra drive and motivation to be part of history,” Parker, 24, said.
“I’m feeling strong ... physically and mentally I’m in the right place. I want to win it and I want to win it well.”
The fact is Parker is explosive and has a lot of power but Andy is not going to take a step back. One punch can change the course of the careers for both of these men. One thing we do know is that it’s going to be explosive.
Parker has hand speed and power and so does Ruiz. It’s going to be a brutal vicious hard fought fight. Both are going to get hit often and it might come down to who can take and absorb the hits. Whatever will happen we know for sure that this is going to be one of the most exciting heavyweight fights in the world.
The last words go to Kevin Barry. Yesterday, he said the work Parker has done in the past few weeks is the best he’s seen.
“I’ve never seen him so focused, I’ve never seen him so sharp, he’s hitting harder than I’ve ever felt before,” he said. “This is an epic event with historic values with two young fighters trying to cement their place in their countries’ histories. We have prepared well, there are no excuses. My challenge to Joe is to produce a career-defining performance on Saturday night. If he does that we will win the world title.”
We can hardly wait. At this point, we want to wish Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker all the best for tonight.
O ou mama na Lupesoliai! Ia manuia le tapuaiga Samoa, God bless!