Boxing: New boy stars in showbiz circus

By Dylan Cleaver

The involvement of Sir Bob Jones (centre) is boosting the profile of Joseph Parker (right) already.  Photo / Steven McNicholl
The involvement of Sir Bob Jones (centre) is boosting the profile of Joseph Parker (right) already. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Welcome to the world of professional boxing, Joseph Parker, where the only thing more entertaining than the fight is the business.

Yesterday's announcement - live from the grandiosely named The Nation's Clubrooms - was a press call, boxing style. With all the fun of the fair, promoter Dean Lonergan gamely played ringmaster until the show was stolen by the biggest drawcard, Sir Robert Jones, and an awkwardly timed intervention from the floor.

Parker, 20, is going to get paid to take his lumps after failing to make the London Olympics. Word is that the South Aucklander's size - 1.83m and 111kg - and style are more suited to the pro ranks, so he will collect his first cheque on the undercard of the Shane Cameron-Monte Barrett bout on July 5.

The card, bizarrely promoted under the banner of "Godfather of All Fight Nights", will be held at the SkyCity Casino, under the same roof as the aforementioned Clubrooms.

Making your way past some impossibly shapely KFC promo women, who looked as if they had been squeezed into their lycra like toothpaste then moulded (you could spend a lifetime outside the doors to one of Colonel Sanders' establishments and not see the like), you were met by a top table custom-made to accommodate the great and the good.

There was Parker, his father Dempsey, Sir Bob, Lonergan, Sky TV chief executive John Fellet, Cameron and his trainer Ken Reinsfeld.

Cameron must have felt like a spare proverbial at a wedding as all the attention centred around a kid with a 0-0 record.

"He's just turned 20," said Jones. "The best heavyweight in the world, Vitali Klitschko, has just turned 40."

So he's got youth and Jones' money on his side and he's also got a mentor with an eye for a headline.

"Amateur boxing doesn't interest me," Jones pronounced. "Nothing amateur interests me any more."

Nor does Sonny Bill Williams: "We'd rather approach somebody serious and not go through this farcical stuff."

Quite what Fellet, who would view Williams as an income stream, made of that was hard to discern, but Lance Revill made his feelings very clear.

Now Revill is the sort of bloke who you can dress up in a crisp white shirt and a bow-tie, but he'll always look as if he was born in a dusty old gym where the only things that matter are sweat and leather.

Speaking from bitter experience, he doesn't want to see Parker fast-tracked.

"I'm saying don't give him his first 10-rounder for at least a year and a half. He must come up slowly," Revill intoned from the floor.

"Six rounds, eight rounds, get him used to going the distance. If he's knocking guys out early, don't fast forward him to 10 rounds because when I fought [Fiji-born Australian] Semi Bula, when I got to the seventh round - I'd never been there before because I was finishing guys in two rounds - I was lost. I couldn't find my way, I was in water that was too deep for me. I don't want to see that happen with Joseph."

In a sport not noted for understatement or caution, they seemed like sensible enough sentiments, even if they were unsolicited.

"Lance, you've been invaluable," Lonergan said through gritted teeth.

And with that the show was over, with reporters invited up for one-on-ones ... but only in front of the sponsor's livery, please.

- NZ Herald

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