Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Joseph Parker 'not ready' to fight Brit Anthony Joshua

New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker during the Rumble in Paradise. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker during the Rumble in Paradise. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

Eddie Hearn, the promoter of English heavyweight and contender Anthony Joshua, has bitten back at the recent comments made by Joseph Parker's promoter Dean
Lonergan, saying the New Zealander was a good prospect but isn't ready to fight the Olympic gold medallist.

In Apia before Parker's dominant performance in his eighth-round TKO victory over American Jason Bergman, Lonergan called Hearn a "myth" and said the only thing that would kill a three-fight series between the two fighters would be an early knockout by Parker in the first bout.

It was fighting talk from Lonergan, fuelled both by a frustration at having been unable to meet Hearn in England recently to discuss a match-up and also by his desire to create waves in an increasingly exciting and lucrative British heavyweight market.
In response, Hearn had good things to say about Parker.

"In the last three days, I've counted probably six or seven fighters who've mentioned AJ or called him out," Hearn told Britain's Sky Sports. David Haye, Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora, Malik Scott, Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker. The list goes on and on.

"The Parker fight is a fight that can happen as long as he keeps winning. With respect, the level of opponents he has fought hasn't been up to the standard of Joshua's but I rate Parker. I think it's a good fight.

"I don't think anybody knows who Parker is over here outside of the hardcore boxing fraternity but in time, they will. I don't think Parker really wants AJ now because I think it's too early for him.

"Everybody is targeting Joshua because he's the money man of the division. It's great news. They'll all get their chance. They'll all get their shot. It's just that we can't fight nine people on the same night."

Parker, 24, is on a similar trajectory to the 26-year-old Joshua, who won a gold medal in the super heavyweight division at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Both are undefeated, with Parker boasting an 18-0 professional record and Joshua 15-0. Joshua's TKO victory over Whyte in London in December was a significant one because the undefeated Whyte was a big step up and hurt Joshua early in the fight, raising questions about his chin.

Bergman, a southpaw who provided a sterner than expected test against Parker in Apia, caught the south Aucklander flush with a left-hand lead in the first round but it appeared to have little effect.

Parker is ranked by four organisations - as high as third by the WBO - with Joshua ranked as high as second by the WBC and WBO.

Fury is the WBO and WBA champion, with David Haye returning from a shoulder recently to convincingly stop Croatia-based Australian Mark de Mori, the British heavyweight scene as dominant, if not more so, than the American market.

Parker's performance in Apia, while a little untidy at times against an awkward opponent, earned praise from respected boxing writer Dan Rafael, who wrote on his ESPN blog: "It was a dominant performance from Parker, who looms as a possible future force in the wide-open heavyweight division."

Parker's next fight is in Christchurch on April 17.

- NZ Herald

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