Parker is nearly ready

There is no doubt about it. Lupesoliai Joseph Parker was the better boxer and he won the fight fair and square at the Horncastle Arena in Christchurch. 

Questions therefore about the validity of the win - including an official protest lodged by Solomon Haumono’s camp against the referee – are unnecessary (see story in Sport). 

Maybe it’s all part of the show, who knows?

The only question we should ask today is whether Lupesoliai is ready for world champion Anthony Joshua. It’s a tough one to answer and not many people would give a definitive yes even after Thursday night’s 4th round knock out.

While it was a knock out, it was not the best of Parker. 

To be fair, Kevin Barry and Duco boys are in a bit of a bind and they need to play their cards right. While they need Parker to keep fighting until the phone call from Joshua’s handlers in London comes for that much anticipated world title bout, they’ve got to be very careful with how they handle Parker from here onwards. 

Thursday’s fight was a very safe option for good reason. It ticked all the boxes. 

Parker got a good work out, the people of Christchurch felt that they were honoured by Kevin Barry and his family and it was another fight win added to the boxer’s impressive undefeated record. 

But it was almost a dud. With due respect to the durable Haumono, at 40 years of age, the veteran was never really going to trouble his 25-year-old opponent. 

Of course there was the odd wild shot that landed on Parker but that’s boxing for you. When you step into that square office, you are expected to take a punch.

With all the talk about Haumono’s explosive power and knock out credentials, he did deliver a couple of haymakers, which Parker took and easily absorbed.

Parker needs to feel those punches and get used to them. As he progresses further up the ladder, they are only going to get harder and more powerful.

In the meantime, he has got to be managed well so that by the time he gets his shot at the world title, he is not so banged up that one calculated power punch would take him out.

Looking ahead, Parker himself is circumspect.

“I got the victory, that’s always the highlight of the fight,” he said.

Asked if he had sent a message to his contemporaries in boxing’s premier division, Parker replied: “I think we sent a message that we know we [have to] keep improving and keep getting better.”

His assessment of his performance gave us an idea that he needs more time.

“My hands were still a little bit low, but my movement was better. I started throwing the jab more in that round [4th] and when the jab started landing, it was hitting him in the face and it set up the right uppercut, that he didn’t see coming.”

For Barry, Thursday night’s game plan was specifically designed for Haumono.

“We saw Solomon put his blinkers on, he puts his hands up there and during the training camp we worked on uppercuts on both sides with the left and right.

“It was just a matter of Joe controlling him with the jab and then changing his level in throwing the uppercut.”

As for the future, Barry added: “I would liked to see Joe to go to the body in the first two rounds. It wasn’t till the third round that he really started to cut him up with body shots. As soon as that happened it changed the whole tempo of the fight.”

Now back to the question, is Parker ready for Anthony Joshua?

We all have different answers. 

But if our opinion was sought, we say Parker is almost ready. We believe he still has plenty to work on and the next few months of his development will be critical. 

The excitement is building and there is no doubt we are all rooting for him to go all the way and achieve what no other Pacific islander has done in boxing history. Two Samoans have failed in their quest for boxing’s holy grail, could it be a case for third time lucky for Lupesoliai? Stay tuned!

In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

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