It might not quite be ‘The Rumble in the Jungle,’ but as far flung and unexpected locations for a boxing match go the tropical balmy climes of Samoa are right up there. And there is a palpable sense of anticipation breezing through this tiny island nation right now ahead of Joseph Parker’s clash with his first southpaw opponent, American, Jason Bergman, tonight.
Even Parker’s promoters Duco have cheekily drawn parables with Ali and Foreman’s historic fight, labelling Parker and Bergman’s clash the slightly more clunky sounding ‘The Rumble in Paradise.’ Whether a rumble ensues remains to be seen but the exotic surroundings that make up Samoa’s sunny islands definitely qualifies as paradise.
Bergman too is entering into the spirit of proceedings delivering an Ali-esque promise to defeat Parker and ‘shock the world,’ which as catchy as it sounds may rank as one of the more outlandish overstatements in an outlandish sport.
Putting historical significances to one side there are certain similarities to the fight in Zaire all those years ago; Samoa is a country of modest financial resources, starved of world class sporting events, but now a big show has landed on their doorstep and the star is something of a local boy no less.
World rated heavyweight Joseph Parker may have been born in New Zealand but his parents both hail from Samoa and the family retains property in the country. Such is Parker’s status in his parent’s country of birth he has been granted the high chief status title of, ‘Lupesoliai Laauli’ and he also retains strong roots with the tiny island nation, holidaying there every year.
For Joseph, it’s a combination of Samoan blood and Kiwi heart.
Like David Tua before him, much of what makes Joseph Parker a terrific heavyweight prospect is that inherited Samoan DNA: fast twitch muscle with size and power seamlessly connected to that indefinable pugilistic quality; which is the sheer joy of fighting, the warrior spirit.