Samoa’s son Lupesoliai La’auli Joseph Parker gave an impressive display at the ‘Rumble in Paradise’ fight Saturday night, knocking out American southpaw opponent, Jason Bergman in the eighth round to the sound of 2,000 Samoans chanting his name.
“I think Jason gave a terrific account of himself this week,” said Lupesoliai’s trainer, Kevin Barry.
Bergman has been saying all week that he’s more than the journeyman that everyone sees him as and this fight proved that he’s capable of keeping up with Lupesoliai’s speed and agility.
The fight truly was a ‘prospect against prospect’ as Bergman had predicted.
Despite the sweltering heat, every seat in the Faleata Sports Complex was filled and the atmosphere was electric as the undercard bouts warmed up the crowd for the main event.
Under the eyes of the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamesese Efi, and 2,000 fans at ringside, Samoa witnessed a rebirth of boxing within the nation with world class bouts being seen all night.
The ringside corporate tables were sold out and the Taula was flowing as Petelo Matagi and Hugo Fata started the night off with the first undercard fight and the evenings only draw.
Next in the ring was crowd favourite Bubba Tuigamala and Gogosina Ulutoa, and all bets were on Tuigamala to win by knockout.
Unfortunately, the Plantation Boxing owner did not deliver on that front, but he did walk away with a victory over Ulutoa, doing his father Inga Tuigamala and the rest of his team, proud.
This particular bout certainly didn’t live up to expectations with the Duco events team glad they chose not to pit Tuigamala against their very own Brown Buttabean for the premiere undercard fight.
Ring announcer, Lieutenant Dan Hennessy kept the crowd full of energy with his enigmatic hosting style as he welcomed the third undercard fight for the evening to the ring, Alapati A’asa and Faransisi Mamoe.
A’asa in the blue corner took home another victory for the Samoan Boxing Academy after a decision by the judges at the end of the bout sent Mamoe home empty handed.
And it seemed like the blue corner was the lucky corner of the night with all the night’s victories hailing from that top left corner of the ring.
That was until Warren Fuiava and Tone Fereti stepped into the ring, with Fereti in the red corner taking home the win.
But the big talk of the undercard fights was that of Jordan Tai and Toni Lapesa, with Tai being the only undercard fight to win by knockout over Lapesa.
TEAM PARKER: Surrounded by his family and
acknowledging his trainer, Kevin Barry, Lupesoliai
is happy to pose for the cameras in the ring.
Premiere undercard fighters Silivelio ‘Batman’ Pekepo-Tevag and David ‘Brown Buttabean’ Letele, raised the crowd’s spirits, with Buttabean’s comical entry and introduction making the audience laugh.
But once the bell rang, the jokes were over as Buttabean unleashed a flurry of punches on his New Zealand-based Samoan opponent in order to take home the Parker team’s first win of the night.
Undercard fights done and dusted, the atmosphere in the Faleata Sportx Complex rose to an all time high as the crowd anxiously awaited their first glimpse of their boxing star, Lupesoliai.
But before the main event commenced announcer Lt. Dan Hennessy led the auction of the night with over $16 000 being raised for local charities.
Prizes included ringside seats to Lupesoliai’s next bout in Christchurch on the 17th of April this year; a signed pair of Joseph Parker boxing glovesand the biggest seller of the evening, a signed All Blacks jersey which went for $5100.
With the charity auction over and a few people’s pockets considerably lighter, it was time to begin the lead up to the main event.
Lupesoliai’s uncle Fa’asavalu David Parker took to the ring to welcome the 2,000 plus strong Samoan audience with the national anthem of the independent state of Samoa, and as the final notes of the anthem filled the stadium, the excitement started to build.
The coverage of the singing of the national anthem was interspersed with footage of Lupesoliai backstage, warming up and dancing his way around the backstage area.
Welcomed first to the ring was American southpaw, Jason Bergman who had travelled all the way from the snow-covered city of Pittsburgh to the “hot” red corner of the Faleata Sports Complex.
But it was Lupesoliai’s entrance that received a deafening roar from the locals.
The main event did not disappoint, with the fight lasting much longer than many people had anticipated.
Lupesoliai was in fine form, delivering his classic speedy flurry of punches to his opponent, but Bergman wasn’t easily kept down.
When Lupesoliai floored him in the second round, many people in the crowd thought that was it for the American fighter, but Bergman proved himself a worthy opponent and fought on.
The fight gave Lupesoliai a learning experience for his first southpaw fight, which will hopefully position him well for I.B.F. title shot against reigning champion, southpaw Charles Martin.
But as resilient as Bergman was, Lupesoliai’s fists finally proved too much for him and Lupesoliai had him down for the count one minute and two seconds into the 8th round to the cheers of a packed grandstand of proud Samoans.
With this fight finally over, Lupesoliai is now able to enjoy his time off, taking three weeks to himself before heading to Las Vegas once more to prepare for his next fight in Christchurch in April.
“2016 is the year we believe we’re going to take Joseph to number one,” was Barry’s claim in an interview after the fight.
But for now, Lupesoliai intends to relax at his family home here in beautiful Samoa, enjoying the delicious mangoes and fresh coconuts from his own backyard.