Why Parker vs Leapai will be tough for Samoans to watch
While the excitement is building to a crescendo in Samoa with eight days to go until the opening ceremony of the 2019 Pacific Games, we cannot say the same thing about the next step in Lupesoliai Joseph Parker’s journey.
If anything, for some Samoans especially, it will be one of those moments they’d rather not see. Up until this point, it’s fair to say that every Parker bout along the way has been followed and supported with so much enthusiasm and passion from these shores, and from all Samoans anywhere else in the world.
And regardless of the result, and there have been couple of disappointing outcomes, Lupesoliai has remained a champion in our eyes. He still is.
But here we are today, only several hours away now from his debut in the United States under Eddie Hearn as his new promoter, but we find ourselves in quite a tough predicament.
Not that Parker has become any less a boxer but because his next opponent is none other than another son of Samoa, Alex Lionheart Leapai.
The truth is simple enough. Samoans here and abroad are torn and they cannot decide on whom to support. Which is understandable. We are a small country and although Parker and Leapai ply their trades out of New Zealand and Australia respectively, on the world stage, they are brothers nonetheless.
Few people, especially Samoans, would have predicted what is about to unfold.While Lupesoliai will probably have more followers given that he is quite current, Leapai also has a huge following.
Of all the boxers in the world, it had to be another Samoan. Tough isn’t it?
On the other hand, from what we have seen from both men so far, they are not letting the Samoan card get in the way of what has been a pretty solid build up. While Leapai was not Parker’s original opponent, he’s not letting the fact Molina’s replacement is Samoan distract him.
"We already knew we were fighting on June 29, it's just a different approach and style," Parker said. "To be honest, I don't care who they put in front of me. I'll fight Ruiz or Dillian Whyte again tomorrow. But I know I have to climb back up to get to the top.”
Looking at Leapai, Parker knows he cannot underestimate the veteran fighter.
"Joshua started talking like, 'when I beat Ruiz, Wilder's next', and this and that. But you can never look past an opponent, no matter who it is.
"Even though people say he's not in shape and he's had his time, he's still a dangerous fighter. Heavyweights carry their power no matter what age, no matter how many fights they've had. So he's still dangerous and I know what I have to do."
As you can see, Sunday’s fight is critical for Parker in the rebuilding phase of his career. He needs to come out and be impressive, especially being his first time in the United States.
But Leapai can be a dangerous beast when he finds his rhythm. It doesn’t help when you have someone like Leapai adopting the mindset of Andy Ruiz when he took on and embarrassed Anthony Joshua.
"I'm fit, I've been training for months hoping to get a big fight and Joseph Parker is in for a big shock," Leapai said. "I'm going to put him under a lot of pressure from the opening bell. I'm in good shape and I'm ready to give Joseph Parker the toughest night of his life."
Like Parker, Leapai has also tasted the big time with his most famous moment probably one of the worst moments against Klitschko. Which is what he would out to erase against a resurgent Parker.
"I learned in that fight that I can't stay back and wait. I have to force the fight from the opening bell and back my power," Leapai said.
"I'm a big puncher and I have to throw big, heavy punches from the start of the fight to keep my opponent off balance. Joe is a real good boxer and a nice guy. But this is my big chance to force my way back in to the world top 10 and I have to make the most of it."
Well there you have it, these men are ready to rumble.
It’s unfortunate that they are both Samoans but that’s business and professional boxing for you. Whatever happens, it would be a very hard fight for Samoans to watch, especially in a sport where one man is out to destroy another.
Between Parker and Leapai, we don’t have a preference; the feeling is undoubtedly shared by many Samoans.
It’s a good thing the bout is on Sunday, possibly in the morning, so that most of us will be at church praying for their safety. This is one of them fights where we can only say may the best man win.
Have a great weekend Samoa, God bless!