Welcome back home, Champ!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 29 December 2017, 12:00AM

It’s a big ask. We know that of the challenge ahead for Samoa’s favourite son, Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker, in going toe-to-toe with Anthony Joshua in a titles unification fight.

The contest has been the talking point of the sporting world for the past few months and weeks. And of course everyone has something to say. 

What’s important is that from where we stand, this fight doesn’t appear to be a lot of smoke. As of yesterday, C.E.O. of Duco, Segiali’i David Higgins, said they are moments away from signing the deal.

“We’ve agreed to the ratio,” he said. “The Joshua side gave a small concession, and we’ve agreed that the Parker side will get somewhere between 30 and 35 per cent.”

While other details such as venue and date are yet to be finalised, Segiali’i said the fight is as good and final. Certainly some interesting times ahead.

What’s interesting – but hardly surprising - is the amount of naysayers who have already come out of the woodworks to question Lupesoliai’s ability to match it with Joshua. In the eyes of many of them, Lupesoliai might as well walk across the ring and present his W.B.O. belt to Joshua on a silver plate. 

That’s how insulting the talk has been folks. 

But then what’s new? Lupesoliai has had to battle all these negative attitudes from day one when he won the W.B.O. title in controversial fashion against Ruiz. He has had more doubters than believers. They have doubted his power, chin, punching finesse and winning ability. 

We accept that at the end of the day you can’t please everyone. And yes Parker still has plenty of work to do. He is a work in progress and we have not seen the best of him yet. Far from it. 

What we find irritating is unreasonable and ridiculous claims being made simply to discredit the work of this humble incredible young man. Some of it coming from our own people? What has he done to deserve it?

On the front page of the newspaper you are reading, Lupesoliai makes it loud and clear that he is looking forward to fighting Joshua.

 “How do I feel about the fight? I’m excited,” he said. “The reason I say that is because I have been chasing Joshua for a long time, for two years now.

“I believe Joshua is a good fighter; strong, powerful, but I back myself with anyone I get into the ring with. 

“I’m not scared, I don’t care what he has, I don’t care if he is strong, fast or whatever, I back myself and I believe that I have the ability to beat him.”

As for naysayers, Lupesoliai is diplomatic.

“As a fighter or as a sports person, you’ve got to take in the good and the bad,” he said. “The good, you appreciate it and you accept it; and the bad you use it as motivation to push you to train harder and fight harder and be prepared, the most prepared you can be.

“You can’t take away from people that sort of don’t believe in you. You’ve just got to just accept it and use it as ammo.”

Well that’s the attitude of a genuine champion, isn’t it? 

You’ve got to pick your fight and for him, what people say about him is not his.

Still, it would be nice if people would give him the respect he deserves.

The fact is Parker is the W.B.O. champion of the world. He did not steal the belt, he did not buy it either, he fought for it with blood, sweat and tears, won it fair and square. He’s defended it a few times and today he is still the champion.

That’s all that matters. 

As Samoans, we are immensely proud of him. We would be lying if we say we are not nervous about the upcoming fight with Joshua. 

We know what the Brit is capable of; we’ve seen how devastating he can be. We also accept that the world rate him highly and that very few people would be giving Parker a chance.

But that’s okay, it makes the fight all the more interesting.

Cometh the hour, we know Lupesoliai will step up. He knows what’s required.

But say he gets to Joshua and loses; it’s not going to be the end of the world.

Lupesoliai will still be a champion in our eyes simply for stepping up and representing Samoa proudly on the global stage, giving it his all. That’s what matters.

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa. And to our world champ Lupesoliai, welcome back home!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 29 December 2017, 12:00AM

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