Leave our Samoan world champion alone

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 14 December 2016, 12:00AM

The negativity following Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker’s world title win last weekend is almost amusing to follow if only the diatribe was not hurtful and downright silly.

What’s interesting is that it is entirely acceptable if it was coming from anywhere else. 

But to hear some of the most ridiculous claims being made by certain kiwis and to an extent some self confessed Samoan boxing experts – it is hard to accept.

True that this is a free world where everyone is entitled to an opinion. 

But such opinions must be constructive and carefully thought out. Sadly, these criticisms are anything but. They are vindictive, based on sour grapes and are only designed to hurt the target. That target is a 24-year-old young man who has worked his butt off for the past four years to reach where he is at today.

To suggest he is not worthy of being labeled a champion has got to be the most hurtful thing anybody can say. It is not just malicious it is insulting to Parker, his team, his family and his army of supporters who clearly believe otherwise.

Now let’s be very clear about this.  The talk that Parker’s WBO title victory is a joke is uninformed.

Firstly Parker beat Ruiz fair and square. 

It wasn’t Duco Events who handed Parker the fight. It wasn’t his family who rewarded him with the WBO belt. And it certainly was not his supporters in Samoa and everywhere else who took a popular vote for it.

Parker stepped in the ring, got banged up for it, showed more intent with a better game plan and he scored frequently with the jab. It’s true he survived a very tough challenge from Andy Ruiz who was unlucky to lose the fight. But that’s boxing isn’t it? 

That is the story and that should be the end of it. Besides, there were three independent judges from three different countries who judged the fight outcome.

One thought it was a draw, the other two gave it to Parker. End of story. Even Colonel Bob Sheridan predicted a tight Parker victory right before the official particulars were announced.

The fact is it could’ve easily gone to Ruiz but that is championship boxing for you.  

Over the years, we’ve watched many of these decisions go against our people. We’ve been robbed many times too. Whether it’s in rugby or other sports, we know what it feels like to have a marginal decision handed against our favour. 

For once a decision has fallen our way. As Samoans, it’s justice for all the injustices we’ve been dealt for so many years. Which means we should be rejoicing with Team Parker, we should be celebrating one of the greatest sporting moments in our history.

Now here is another interesting bit. It’s not Parker’s fault that world boxing is fragmented as it is today. The fact there are many different types of belts with different champions is not something Parker created.

So for people – including many so-called experts to go around ridiculing this young man’s achievement based on the fact that boxing is so fragmented - is not only ludicrous, we believe they are barking up the wrong tree. Boxing, especially the heavyweight ranks has a history of divisions and fragmentation. They have been there for a long time and will continue to be there when Parker retires. It’s what makes the sport tick.

As for claims that Parker is not ready yet to be a heavyweight champion, it must be said that Parker has a lot more work to do. There is plenty he can improve on for sure and he knows that. But at 24-years-old, time is on his hands. There are some things he has achieved that have been remarkable and it’s sad his critics can’t acknowledge them.

Looking to the future, the beauty of boxing is that we don’t really know if Parker is up for the likes of Anthony Joshua, Wladamir Klitshcko and Ortiz until he gets in the ring with any of these guys. Everyone will say that they’re bigger, meaner and have far more experience, which is true.  But they have never fought anyone like Parker – the Samoan champion.

He is not the finished product yet, far from it. 

But he is a humbled young man who deserves every bit of the success he is lapping up today because he has earned it.

And he can only get better over time. That much we are sure of.

But then that’s what we think anyway. 

What about you?

Have a fabulous Wednesday Samoa, God bless! 

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 14 December 2016, 12:00AM

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