Parade and welcome threatens to overwhelm Parker

By Patrick McKendry in Apia

Travelling in a parade on the back of a truck to the sound of about 100 marching school students chanting his name, Joseph Parker has completed easily the most spectacular weigh-in of his career this morning.

The parade finished in front of the main government building in Apia, with Parker and his team, plus his opponent for tomorrow night's heavyweight clash, Jason Bergman, taking to the large stage set up in front of hundreds of supporters shading themselves from the heat.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi welcomed his guests, and, just as he did when hosting a similar welcome for the All Blacks here in July last year, threatened to steal the show with his unique turn of phrase.


Parker arrived to the announcement that he was a "son of Samoa and future champion of the world", with Tuilaepa expressing concern for the health of his opponent, American southpaw Bergman.

In July, New Zealand Rugby officials sitting on the stage could have been forgiven for squirming after Tuilaepa described the All Blacks as the "elusive Scarlet Pimpernels of world rugby" for the union's previous reluctance to visit Samoa.

New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker and his entourage during a parade in the streets of Apia. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker and his entourage during a parade in the streets of Apia. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

This time he had the crowd laughing when, in Samoan, he explained the secret of Parker's success.

The 24-year-old Parker, born in New Zealand of Samoan-born parents, said later: "He was saying the reason why I'm strong is because I've got the same name from his village and because I carry coconuts - that's why my jab is fast.

"The Prime Minister is married to my aunty so we're family."

Tuilaepa said: "We are extremely proud to have a son of Samoa succeed to higher levels of the sport and hope to see him excel where no one has ever done before.

"Accordingly, the nation will be watching the match tomorrow night with much excitement and also hoping that it will not be too cruel for Mr Jason Bergman."

Parker's visit to Samoa has been a homecoming in many ways, but tomorrow his local supporters will be expecting him to deliver against Bergman, who will carry a weight advantage into the ring.

Bergman weighed in at 116.7kg and Parker 108.9kg, a consistent weight which looks good on the increasingly powerful south Aucklander.

"Through the Christmas period I was focused," he said. "I was tempted to eat other foods that were there and available but I tried my best to keep away and we've been training really hard during Christmas and that's why we're here. If I hadn't trained hard I wouldn't be comfortable being here or mentally prepared.

"I feel like everyone is expecting me to put on a great performance and I'm expecting to put on a great performance because I feel so good."

Parker said the parade and welcome was almost overwhelming at one point.

"I'm happy there's a lot of recordings that I can sit down and watch because, damn, this event was amazing. You see everyone out there, all the support, the haka and singing, it's awesome how they set it all up.

"It took a moment to absorb it all, it seemed unreal at one stage."

- NZ Herald

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