A victory for Samoa

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 12 December 2016, 12:00AM

Well there you have it Samoa. Lupesoliai La‘auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker has delivered what we’ve all been waiting for. 

David Tua came agonizingly close in the United States, Alex Leapai had a sniff in Germany and now Lupesoliai has done it. 

He is bringing the WBO heavyweight title to Samoa after claiming a narrow victory over Andy Ruiz Jnr at the Vector Arena on Saturday night.

What a fight. What a performance. And what a feeling! 

Wherever you were, if you are a Samoan, you would have rejoiced as much as we did in the rare triumph. 

And why not?

Who doesn’t feel proud especially when we watch another son of this proud country do so well? Who doesn’t get Goosebumps when we hear our national anthem being sung so beautifully on the world stage?

The fact is it was a tough fight. All the talk about Ruiz being robbed by the referees is expected. It wouldn’t be boxing, especially the heavyweight division without the drama. That’s how they generate interest to make money to grow the sport.

Whatever side you’re on, it must be said that it wasn’t a spectacular performance by Parker and Ruiz’s standards. They both know it. Maybe the occasion got the better of the fighters so that they froze up and refused to let their hands go as they would normally do. It happens – and yes to the best of the best too.

But that doesn’t matter, does it? 

All we can say is that it was one heck of a fight, one that kept people at the edge of their seats from the start to finish. Twelve rounds went by so quickly. And we were in it for the ride from the opening bell. 

Every time Parker was hit, we grimaced collectively. We got nervous when he was cornered. We held our breath every time he stopped throwing the jabs. We prayed for him to keep moving to avoid being trapped and becoming a sitting duck for Ruiz. We prayed that his eye wouldn’t be cut. Yes it was one of those fights, heart in your mouth kind of stuff. 

And finally there was the result. The one we have all been praying for. But boy that was hard to watch. When the going go tough, some of us couldn’t look on.

After Tua flopped against Lewis, the disappointment of Leapai, we couldn’t possibly imagine losing another world title attempt for the third time. 

Thankfully Lupesoliai did enough.

At the end of the day, two judges scored the fight in favour of our man. The rest is history as they say.

At this point, we want to say a win is a win. 

It’s academic how the points were scored; it’s irrelevant how some self-proclaimed boxing experts are saying Parker did not deserve the win.

The fact is Parker was the more strategic boxer; he was fitter, a lot quicker and had much more left in the tank to finish the job strongly. 

This of course is not meant to take away from Ruiz. He is an incredible prospect in the heavy weight division. The fact he lost is unfortunate as the scoring could have easily gone his way. 

What I particularly like about this Ruiz fighter is his demeanour, his humility and graceful accepting of defeat. He is class and he deserves to go a long way. 

But then so is Parker and more.

Yes a rematch with Lupesoliai would be wonderful.

But that’s perhaps a story for another day.

Today is about rejoicing and celebrating Lupesoliai’s achievement. 

In becoming the new WBO heavyweight champion, Lupesoliai has ascended to new heights, something that has never been achieved before by anyone from these remote shores. We are proud of him.

This victory would have to rank among the best sporting moments in our history. We will remember it for years to come, we will cherish it forever as the moment when Samoa reached the pinnacle of boxing as a sport.

The best thing about this victory was that it wasn’t just about Parker. 

Samoa as a nation was also a winner, with images and pictures about our beautiful country being beamed into millions of viewers across the globe. This is thanks to a strategic decision by Invest Samoa to back the fight. 

But just as Parker has just started his journey as a world champion, let’s hope we eventually get to reap the rewards of that investment with more tourists coming to check out the home of our new world heavyweight boxing champion.

So well done Lupesoliai Laauliolemalietoa Joseph Parker for a well deserved victory. Have a great week Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 12 December 2016, 12:00AM

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