It’s Parker’s moment to shine

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 October 2016, 12:00AM

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. 

During the weekend, it was confirmed that our very own Lupesoliai Laauliolemalietoa Joseph Parker, the man from Tapatapao and Faleula, will fight for the world heavyweight title in December.

As of yesterday, we know that the WBO has given the green light for a Parker vs Andy Ruiz fight for the WBO belt vacated by Tyson Fury. Given the ever-changing directions in the heavyweight division in terms of who is challenging whom, it seems quite certain that Parker is in for the bout of his life.

So far, the only issue appears to be where the fight will take place. When the news broke, Auckland New Zealand was identified as the venue. Eden Park, Mt. Smart Stadium and Vector Arena were all potential hosts for the historical fight.

But that might now change.

Yesterday, Duco Promoter Dean Lonergan said the fight is now “70-80 per cent” likely to be held in the United States.

“The biggest problem we’ve got is putting together sponsorship in a very short space of time,” Lonergan told The NZ Herald. “We’ve got some fantastic sponsors already, but we are looking for other commercial deals as well. 

“Despite some errant reporting in the media, we aren’t looking for taxpayer funding, we are looking to put together commercial deals with long-term partners.”

The errant report referred to here involves reports about New Zealand taxpayers having to fork out to stage the fight there. Now with the new twist, that is unlikely to happen – even if the reports were true.

Instead, Duco Events now appears to be eyeing the millions outside of New Zealand. Whichever way it goes, New Zealand will end up benefitting tremendously from it.

“People in the United Stades, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, India, China and Germany, to name only a few, will be watching this telecast and we have the option of showcasing New Zealand’s tourism potential, including Queenstown, Rotorua and Waiheke Island - the jewel of the Hauraki Gulf. We own the broadcast so can show those pictures whenever we want,” Lonergan said.

Well we can understand Lonergan and the Duco boys’ predicament. 

Ideally for us in Samoa though, we’d hope that the fight is in Auckland. Not only will Parker have the home advantage, it would make it a lot easier for people from here in Samoa to take a three hour flight to Auckland to be at ringside for this historical event. 

The fight will be an occasion to behold. Not that it’s a new occasion for us.

When it comes to world title fights, this is not new to Samoa and Samoans all over the world. 

We’ve already had two Samoans fight for the world heavyweight title. While David Tua and Alex Leapai were not successful, there is a strong feeling that Parker has the potential to go all the way and create history. 

This is why this is such an exciting time for all of us who have been following Parker’s journey since the beginning. Judging by the reactions from around the world, Parker is heavily favoured to make history.

A story titled “Parker has tools to be champion of the world” by Patrick McKendry of The NZ Herald gave some pretty good insights for this optimism.

“When Lupesoliai Joseph Parker arrives in Auckland for his WBO world heavyweight title fight against Andy Ruiz Jr, he will almost definitely be in the physical shape of his life,” he writes.

“Under the tutelage of trainer Kevin Barry at their Las Vegas base, his mental condition is likely to be excellent, too.

“The same can’t necessarily be said of Ruiz Jr, a Mexican based in California who has had his share of ups and downs. That’s a major factor, along with home advantage, as to why Parker will be favoured to be the first New Zealand-born boxer in more than 120 years to win a significant heavyweight world title.

“Parker, who has a 21-0 record, has fought a better class of opponent than the 29-0 Ruiz Jr.”

Mc Kendry’s opinion is backed by another respected boxing guru, Dan Rafael.

“Parker has beaten two fringe contenders in his last three fights, a unanimous decision against Carlos Takam in May and a stunningly one-sided third-round destruction of Alexander Dimitrenko on October 1.

“Ruiz, 27, a Mexico native fighting out of Imperial, California, has a far less impressive resume than Parker.

“He is coming off a lopsided 10-round decision win against journeyman Franklin Lawrence on September 10. Ruiz’s most notable victories are a fourth-round knockout of former world title challenger Ray Austin in May and a 10-round decision win against former world titleholder Sergey Liakhovich, but they were both way past their best days.”

Well on those accounts, there is no question about who the favourite is. Which is great news for all of us because we genuinely believe this is Parker’s moment to shine. 

But then let’s not take anything for granted. We’d also be careful that we don’t count the chickens too early.  Having said that, we know Parker is a focused young man who would not buy into any of the hype. He would instead be pounding those boxing bags, patiently waiting for his chance wherever and whenever that might be. We can hardly wait.

Have a great Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 October 2016, 12:00AM

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