Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Parker wary of Botha's tricks

Francois Botha has called him a "baby" but Joseph Parker knows his older opponent will be anything but paternal when they meet in the ring in June.

In fact, Parker will be taking extra care to avoid some of the tricks that so rattled Sonny Bill Williams in Brisbane in February. The 44-year-old White Buffalo has learned most of them during his fighting career, in particular punching after the bell, which Parker is well aware of.

"When you're in the ring you've got to be aware at all times and protect yourself at all times," said 21-year-old Parker. "After the bell rings and before you walk to the corner you should keep your hands up in case he chucks in one of those cheeky ones."

This heavyweight clash in Auckland on Thursday, June 13, an event sponsored by Hydr8 Zero Explosion, will be easily the biggest test of Parker's professional career, which spans four fights.

Not only has Botha come up against some of the biggest names of the sport in recent times, he has the ability to go the distance and possesses a right hand that increasingly troubled former All Black Williams in Brisbane, a fight he won everywhere apart from the scoreboard.

"It's a good fight because Botha is very experienced," Parker added. "Plus he's still a durable opponent, he can still go the rounds as we saw with Sonny Bill. I need a good step up like this to see where I'm at."

Parker, an outstanding amateur for New Zealand, said he felt the need to improve the quality of opponent after all of his previous fights finished early. The fight against Botha is scheduled for eight rounds - Parker has never fought beyond five and that was as an amateur.

His longest professional fight - the TKO victory over Richard Tutaki - lasted three rounds.

He said he would probably travel overseas to spar in preparation for the fight which is guaranteed to be a learning experience and not only inside the ring.

Botha was his usual self at today's press conference in Auckland - full of bluster, even if some of it didn't quite hit the mark.

Wearing dark sunglasses at the downtown indoor venue, he called Parker "Baby Joseph", saying there was going to be a "demolition" and a "rude awakening".

"I'm sorry, Joseph, but most fighters lose the fight in the locker room ... you're not going to have your trainers or sponsors in the ring with you, you're going to be all alone with the Buffalo."

Botha made light of the accusations of performance-enhancing drugs-taking after the Williams fight debacle in Brisbane when holding up a athlete's drug handbook, although what that proved was hard to say.

Regardless, Parker took Botha's performance in good humour, suggesting when asked about the "baby" jibes that Botha could be his "uncle".

"He's actually a funny guy and I couldn't stop laughing at the table," he said.


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