Even before a single punch has been thrown for the Rumble in Paradise, the event is already a winner. All we need now is for Lupesoliai Joseph Parker to deliver one of his Parker specials as icing on the cake tonight and this week will go down in history as one of the best sporting weeks in Samoa.
It will rank up there among the highlights with weeks like the All Blacks last year – although on a much smaller scale.
Come to think of it, it’s a pity that tonight’s main event is one where two guys are expected to smash each other. We say this because our people have even come to embrace Parker’s opponent, Jason Bergman, as one of their own.
This country has looked after him since he arrived, we’ve come to love him and his soft-spoken nature and mannerisms have made him a real favourite on these shores. A real nice guy.
There is a very special feeling about this fight.
It is not your usual heavyweight clash where the fighters come up with all sorts of outrageous statements to sell the fight. It’s a fight that is happening for all the right reasons.
Here we have someone like Parker who genuinely wants to give back to his people by bringing a fight to Samoa. With the backing of Duco Events and all the sponsors including S.I.F.A., they have created an awesomely, positive atmosphere, which the people of Samoa have come to love.
This is what sport is about. It is what boxing should be about. It’s about bringing the best in people, celebrating awesome talent and bringing people together.
Yesterday’s weigh in was certainly very different in that sense.
Only in Samoa where thousands will crowd on the streets to watch seemingly unimportant fight preliminaries in the eyes of the boxing world.
And the absence of the trash talk we’ve come to expect with these events was a welcome reprieve.
But then this is Samoa.
We do things our way and our way only. That’s why even though the bout hasn’t even started; we’ve already been calling Parker the champion.
In fact, in the eyes of thousands of young children out there – especially the ones who were privileged to meet him this week – he is already a world champion.
We believe that too. From what we’ve seen in Samoa this week, there is a real reason to be confident and feel positive about this man’s chance to go all the way. After all, it could be a case of third time lucky for Samoa in terms of world championship fights. First it was David Tua, then Alex Leapai and now Parker is in with a real shot at the big time.
Does he stand a chance?
Of course he does. He is humble, determined, and when he is required to, he brings out that mongrel all great heavyweights display from time to time.
What separates Parker from the rest is his upbringing. He is so well grounded, extremely polite and as Samoans, that’s what makes us proud.
Our Parker is not the brash type who talks a lot of nonsense. He is not prideful and he doesn’t act arrogant like most high profile athletes.
Everywhere he has gone to this week, he has taken time to talk to people, sign autographs, take photos with them and get to know them. These qualities are hard to find in modern professional athletes who are managed like robots.
For us, these are good signs.
And the fact that he has decided to bring this fight to Samoa – where there is no or little money to be made at all – is a sign of someone who has his priorities in order.
There is no doubt that as Parker’s career progresses to the next stage, this is a week he and his trainer Kevin Barry will not forget. And certainly we will not forget either.
We wish all the fighters tonight all the best.
God bless and have a safe weekend, Samoa!