Boxing: Barry warns that Botha is a risky step up for Parker

By Michael Brown

Joseph Parker looked relaxed ahead of the biggest fight of his short professional boxing career tomorrow night but the same couldn't be said about his trainer Kevin Barry.

Barry joined Parker's camp two months ago after the 21-year-old agreed to take on Francois Botha and Barry isn't happy about Parker's choice of opponent.

Fledgling boxers, particularly with Parker's potential, normally work their way through the grades against no-names and never-will-be-names, not 44-year-olds who have been in the ring with the likes of Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. It will be Parker's sixth professional fight but a considerable step up from his previous four.

"I will be happy when this fight is behind us because the downside is far greater than the upside," Barry said.

At yesterday's highly unusual public drugs test, held by promoters Duco Events because of Botha's failed test in 1995 and accusations levelled at him by Khoder Nasser after the Sonny Bill Williams fight in February, Barry questioned Botha's need of a cortisone injection for an arm injury.

He told anyone who would listen that cortisone is a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. Botha flatly denied any such allegation, and Parker is also unconcerned.

"Maybe he has [taken cortisone to mask steroids], maybe he hasn't," Parker said. "For me, no worries. I am really prepared and that takes away the nerves and worry. If he does, let's hope he gets caught and it ends his career. Cheaters have to get caught."

The initial testing found nothing untoward in the systems of Botha or Parker but full results of the blood and urine tests will take at least 10 days.

Meanwhile, Barry just hopes his boxer comes through the fight unscathed. APNZ

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In part two of a three-part series Steve Orsbourn talks to the Duco owners about the undercard and why models and dwarfs are fighting ahead of amateur boxers.

- APNZ

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