Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Joseph Parker on new champ Martin - 'he's nothing special'

The wisdom of Joseph Parker's handlers arranging a fight against American southpaw Jason Bergman in Apia on Saturday has quickly become evident.

On Sunday, Parker and trainer Kevin Barry watched a television screening of lefty Charles Martin defeating Vyacheslav Glazkov for the vacant IBF heavyweight championship, with Parker immediately saying he would feel confident about facing the new champion.

"Charles Martin, we watched him. He won the IBF championship of the world but we don't think he's anything special," Parker said today.


Parker, 24, is undefeated as a professional, but has yet to fight a southpaw as a pro. He has admitted to having problems adjusting to an unorthodox opponent in training, so there will be added scrutiny on his performance in Apia.

Bergman, a tough 31-year-old who recently sparred with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, will provide different problems for Parker to solve, but the New Zealander's youth, fitness and superior technique will make him an overwhelming favourite.

New IBF champion Martin won't be in a hurry to face Parker, but if he eventually does, the South Aucklander's experience this weekend should stand him in good stead.

Martin, who has been a professional since 2012, hasn't fought anyone of much substance, according to keen boxing observers, and that includes the over-rated Glazkov, who retired with a knee injury in the third round of their bout in Brooklyn, New York, thereby handing the title to his American opponent.

Martin, untroubled in the first two rounds, extended his unbeaten record to 23-0-1 with his TKO victory.

Parker is ranked 10th by the IBF but Sunday's result, plus Wilder's knockout victory over Artur Szpilka later, will have moved him closer to a mandatory challenge without him having thrown a punch.

Szpilka, challenging for Wilder's WBC heavyweight title, will drop down the IBF rankings after being knocked cold in the ninth round by Wilder in the main event at Brooklyn's Barclay's Centre today, and Glazkov will also slip.

"It just reinforces our decision to fight a southpaw here in Samoa," said Parker's trainer, Kevin Barry.

The IBF title was vacated by WBO and WBA champion Tyson Fury after he elected to take a re-match against Wladimir Klitschko, and the British fighter created fireworks of his own when storming the ring and confronting Wilder after his fight.

There was a staged feel to the ring invasion, with Wilder giving as good as he received, but Parker believes the new breed of heavyweights in the post-Klitschko era are breathing life into the division.

"Having these characters is definitely going to give us a lot more attention," he said.

Barry, who watched Wilder's fight, closely was impressed with Spilka's game plan and early performance, before the spectacular knockout.

He said: "Wilder has very heavy hands, especially his right hand, which is devastating, but until then I thought it was a lacklustre performance from Wilder, who looked confused by Spilka's movement and style."

- NZ Herald

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