Boxing: Parker prepares to face 'big boy'

By Kris Shannon

Joseph Parker's opponent tomorrow night is a winless 30-year-old, who's weighed in at 167kgs and hasn't fought for five years. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Joseph Parker's opponent tomorrow night is a winless 30-year-old, who's weighed in at 167kgs and hasn't fought for five years. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Shortly after signing a seven-figure contract to aid his ascension to the big time, heavyweight Joseph Parker received a reality check about the occasionally weird world of boxing.

Parker is set for his second fight as a professional tomorrow night at the Rising Stars promotion at Trust Stadium in Waitakere but, just days out from the bout, his opponent has changed.

Southland veteran Hiriwa Te Rangi is out - busy tending to his sick mother in hospital - and in his place comes a man who hasn't stepped foot in the ring since 2007.

Terry Tuteru, who was a sparring partner of Te Rangi, possesses an unflattering professional record and tips the scales at 167kg - a good 61.5kg heavier than Parker.

He is hardly a gate-keeper in this country's heavyweight division, but that's to be expected. Parker has long been touted as the next big hope in heavyweight boxing, lauded as New Zealand's best prospect since David Tua.

But, like Tua before him, the 20-year-old has to start somewhere.

And, after a scratchy first-up win over Huntly PE teacher Dean Garmonsway in July, Parker cannot count on a smooth glide to the top - he will have to negotiate some turbulence.

That arrived today when the pair weighed in at Don Oliver Fitness Centre in west Auckland - a far cry from Sir Bob Jones' glamorous harbour-front building where the six-year deal with promotion company Duco was announced earlier this week.

The usual pre-fight preening was forgone, almost as if seeing the fighters face-to-face would have further emphasised the apparent gulf in ability.

Tuteru, who has only one draw to his name from 10 professional fights, has already suffered cheap shots in some quarters. Parker will probably inflict a few more in the ring tomorrow night but, for now, the youngster was content just to be fighting.

"When they told me I might not be fighting I pushed for it and Bob Jones pushed for it, because I need to be in the ring,'' Parker said. "As a professional you've got the be in the ring, so you don't slack off and you gain more experience. I'm excited and it's going to be a good night.''

Parker admitted he knew very little of his new opponent and had, in fact, first laid eyes on him at the weigh-in.

"He's a big boy, he's a unit - he might have some tricks up his sleeve. I don't know what he's going to bring, but I know he's going to come ready. He wouldn't take the fight if he wasn't ready.

"He looks like one of those David Tua-style fighters. I've trained and tried to prepare myself for any different style. It's going to be interesting.''

There's no doubting that. Tuteru has a background in kickboxing and, considering the card features boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts, it is to be hoped he remembers exactly in which discipline he is competing.

His last fight five years ago saw him knocked out in the second round by Australian league player John Hopoate, another man well-versed in the bizarre side of sport.

Despite being at the beginning of what he hopes if a long career, Parker said he was already well aware to expect the unexpected.

"In boxing, sometimes things don't turn out the way they're supposed to turn out so you have to prepare yourself for any situation. I'm just thankful to Terry for jumping in last minute. I know he's going to come ready so I'm just looking forward to the fight night.''

- APNZ

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