Boxing: Fighting talk from Thompson

By Patrick McKendry of APNZ in Bethlehem Pennsylvania

Keith Thompson has promised to provide New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker with a stern test when they fight on Sunday.

Thompson and Parker encountered each other for the first time at today's press conference, with the American, who had just flown in from his Alabama home, saying: "He seems to be a tough guy but I came here to win so we'll see."

Fellow Kiwi Robert Berridge also faced up to his opponent, Visily Lepikhin, for the first time and the Russian, who has been sparring with light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in Miami, looks a tough, and tall, prospect.

The New Zealanders gave little away, both saying they were thankful for their opportunities. It will be Berridge's first fight out of Australasia. Parker has fought in the United States before - his decision victory over fellow Kiwi Brice Ritani-Coe in California last year.

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Thompson was happy to provide the closest thing to a provocative statement with his comment about testing Parker's toughness.

"I've seen videos of his fights but before this fight I didn't know much about him," Thompson said of the 22-year-old from Auckland.

Asked if getting in the ring with Wilder, a hard hitter who has won all 31 of his fights by knockout, Thompson said: "You got to be tough just to get in with him, he's a real puncher for sure."

Parker and his trainer Kevin Barry have promised to provide a busy start to the fight, which is scheduled for only six rounds.

Berridge is likely to face a bigger test in his main undercard fight to the main event, which pits Vyacheslav Glazkov, who recently moved his family from his war-torn Ukrainian homeland to Florida, against New Yorker Derric Rossy.

Scheduled for 12 rounds, the fight will be a big test for Berridge, who is 14cm shorter than his undefeated opponent.

Lepikhin, who speaks limited English, was reluctant to talk about his fighting style. He was called "The Professor" because he was a smart boxer, he said.

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