New Zealander Joseph Parker and Carlos Takam, the man standing in the way of his shot at a world heavyweight boxing title challenge, have met for the first time - and the French-Cameroon fighter used the opportunity to send his opponent a subtle message.
Despite suffering from extreme tiredness following his long journey from Paris yesterday, the 35-year-old was sharp enough to suggest South Aucklander Parker will be the one feeling the pressure when they meet at Manukau's Vodafone Events Centre a week on Saturday.
"I don't feel pressure," Takam said. "When I fight in Paris, that's when I might feel pressure. Maybe Joseph Parker is going to feel the same pressure as when I box in Paris, I don't know."
The pair got together to shoot a promotional video for the fight at NZME's new central Auckland office and Takam's size and attitude suggest he will be a big challenge for the 24-year-old Parker.
At 1.93cm, Parker will have a 4cm height advantage, but Takam - heavy-set in the shoulders and legs - could have a weight advantage.
The winner of the fight will take on the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale IBF world title bout in London on June 25.
Englishman Joshua will be a short favourite to defend his title against the American after relieving Charles Martin of his belt with a stunning second-round knockout last month.
Parker and his team arrived in Auckland from their Las Vegas base on Saturday and their man appears to have acclimatised already.
Takam, on the other hand, was feeling the effects of flying to the other side of the world. The veteran of 36 professional fights has lost only twice in the paid ranks but has never fought in the southern hemisphere.
"I'm tired today, yes, but I'm going to start my training tomorrow and in two or three days I'll be ready," he said.
When I fight in Paris, that's when I might feel pressure. Maybe Joseph Parker is going to feel the same pressure as when I box in Paris.
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
Takam has been a professional for 11 years and has been in the ring with such men as Alexander Povetkin to whom he lost in a fight-of-the-year contender in Russia in 2014, and American veteran Tony Thompson, whom he beat in France by unanimous decision the same year, so isn't likely to be fazed by much.
For his part, Parker also appears ready after a 12-week camp, and has the advantage of staying in a familiar hotel and fighting at a venue less than 10km from his childhood home.
Parker, undefeated in 18 professional fights, said: "I have a lot of respect for him but I'm not going to let anything stand in the way of me getting to the world title. This is my time."
The fight, one of the most significant professional bouts held in New Zealand - and certainly the richest - is gaining the attention of Parker's growing army of supporters if ticket sales are any indication.
Within two weeks of corporate tables going on sale, they had already surpassed the sales of the David Tua vs Shane Cameron "Fight of the Century" at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, in 2009.
About 125 corporate tables have been sold - top price $12,000 - and promoters Duco Events will this morning make what they say is a significant announcement regarding the remaining 520 general admission tickets. General ticket sales have been frozen, and the announcement is likely to involve how the remainder are distributed.