Francois Botha, the flamboyant South African who went by the name of "The White Buffalo" during his long and often entertaining boxing career, is backing Joseph Parker to beat Carlos Takam in the IBF heavyweight world title elimination bout in Auckland next month, saying the New Zealander is a future world champion in the making.
Botha, now 47, faced both Parker and Takam during the latter part of his 24-year professional career in which he fought 62 times for 48 wins, 11 losses and three draws, and said from his Durban home this week that Parker was by far the better man.
The Botha fight in Auckland in 2013 was Parker's sixth as a professional and clashing with such a wily opponent was considered a big step up for the man nicknamed "Baby Joseph" by Botha during the build up.
There was nothing infantile about the way Parker stopped Botha in the second round, however, the South Aucklander pummelling the defenceless veteran with several head shots before the fight was rightly called off by the referee.
Botha faced Takam in France three fights before his clash with Parker, in 2012, and the result was the same - a TKO, albeit one in the 11th round, nine rounds later than Parker's victory.
Asked about the now 35-year-old Takam, Botha used the words "strong" and "durable", before turning his attention to Parker, saying of the May 21 fight at Manukau's Vodafone Events Centre: "I would have to go with Parker.
"Joseph has speed and power. The punch you don't see is the one that will knock you out and that is a big advantage that he has got.
"He has to stay away from Carlos' power - he's strong - but Joseph is getting better and better and his confidence is also growing. I'm picking he will be too much for Carlos."
Botha, who retired in 2014 and now does mainly charity work, said he had kept an eye on Parker's career and noted he had been in camp with former world champion Wladimir Klitschko which he said would have been invaluable for the young fighter's development.
Asked about the finish of his fight against the Las Vegas-based Parker, Botha said: "He caught me well and followed it up. It was that speed again. Speed is power.
"He's an excellent prospect, a future world champion, I am sure. He is also a likeable person; a humble person. A lot of people underestimate him."
The comments from Botha, who finished by sending his regards to his "friends and fans in New Zealand", were well received by Parker's trainer Kevin Barry this week.
However, Barry said Parker could take little comfort from knowing he had knocked Botha out nine rounds earlier than Takam. Besides which, Brazilian Marcelo Luis Nascimento is the other opponent common to both Takam and Parker. In the case of Nascimento, Takam won by KO in the fourth round in France last year, with Parker winning by TKO in the seventh round in Germany a year earlier.
Barry said: "When you analyse a fighter there are a number of boxes that you have to tick, starting with experience - he is an 11-year seasoned professional; pedigree, he is any Olympian; punching power, he has a 70 per cent knockout record. He has good defence, he is potentially very sound there. He is a skilful guy who brings a lot of strength and power and aggression. The guy is a scary guy."
Barry, speaking on the afternoon his fighter had sparred eight "fantastic" rounds in training, said the back niggle which had hampered Parker before his last bout against Jason Bergman in Apia had gone, however, some lingering elbow pain had remained but was being managed well.
"Joe will be in the best shape of his life for this fight because he needs to be," Barry said.
"Pro athletes train with a degree of pain and suffering all the time. It's just one of those things. It's something we're monitoring and taking care of. It hasn't restricted us in any form at training at all."