This is it. The moment Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker and his most ardent supporters have been waiting for has arrived.
After the bitter disappointment of losing the W.B.O. title to Anthony Joshua earlier this year, Samoa’s very own Parker is back under the spotlight, returning to the ring in London tomorrow for what will be a career defining fight against another big, brash Brit.
This time, it is in the form Dillain Whyte who is not much different from Joshua in terms of punching power.
If anything, Parker and his new opponent share one commonality, which is that they have both fought Joshua and lost. The only difference is that whereas Whyte knocked down Joshua before he himself was floored and knocked out on the seventh round, Parker survived Joshua’s power but lost the fight and the W.B.O. belt.
Obviously both men feel that they have unfinished business. And judging from the prefight talks, bets and predictions, Whyte is clearly the overwhelming favourite.
Which is not surprising of course.
Going back to Parker’s fight against Joshua, a lot has been made about the fact he could have done more. It’s something even Parker has admitted, saying he should have been more aggressive.
But tat was then. This is now. People learn and fighters get better. They do.
“I have learnt from that fight,” Parker said. “I was not aggressive enough and I wasn’t mongrel enough — but I did not practice it.”
Now it’s too late to change what had happened back then with Joshua but Parker, as he said, has learnt from it.
He has got to be careful though that he doesn’t allow frustrations and over aggression to derail his focus. Whyte is different kettle of fish. Parker cannot fight Whyte and think about happened with Joshua. That will be his undoing.
He needs to focus on Whyte and he needs a game plan tailor made to beat Whyte. Needless to say, Whyte is one of the heavyweight division’s superstars. This guy can punch and the world knows this. Even Joshua does.
During the pre-fight talks, Whyte has maintained from day one that he will knock out Parker. No ifs no buts. He genuinely believes Parker does not deserve to be up there fighting the best in the world.
“If he comes to fight like he says, he gets knocked out,” Whyte said. “I’ve been in the game long enough to know talk and action are two different things. I always try to bring the pain and end fights in bad fashion. I want to be the first to hurt him.”
If those words don’t alarm Parker and his camp, they are in for a long night at O2 Arena in London. Their tone is disrespectful but then this is what makes boxing one of the best sports in the world to follow. It’s whether boxers can deliver with their hands what their mouths have promised.
For Parker, we continue to believe in him. The space from the Joshua loss to now has given him a lot to think about and learn from. As for this fight being so critical for his future plans, we don’t have to keep reminding him what is at stake. He knows.
“The mindset is different,” Parker said. “I want it more. I want it bad. This time I’m going to leave everything in the ring, even if I have to kick him.”
“If it is anger, it’s controlled anger. I feel like it’s more drive, and maybe the things he’s said makes me really want to hurt him. I really do want to hurt him.”
We have seldom heard this type of mongrel talk from Parker before.
“When you’re in shape, you look in the mirror, and you’re ‘ohhh...’ You look good, and you feel good.”
“I used to come into fights and say ‘hopefully I will have a good fight and catch him clean’. There’s no ‘hopefully’ here. I’m here to punch. I’m going to break him down. He thinks I can’t go to war. Wait and see.”
Well I tell you what, we can hardly wait.
These are fighting words from a wonderful Samoan who has made us all so proud. We are with you all the way Parker; win or lose. O ou mama na.
Have a restful weekend Samoa, God bless!