Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Carlos Takam gets testy in Joseph Parker press conference

Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker pose during their press conference. Photo / Getty
Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker pose during their press conference. Photo / Getty

Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker has passed his first major test of the week - an at times awkward press conference alongside rival Carlos Takam at a South Auckland fast food restaurant packed with media and other onlookers.

Despite the casual surroundings at the Papatoetoe Burger King, Parker - who will take on Takam in an IBF world title eliminator down the road in Manukau on Saturday - arrived in a three-piece blue suit and shiny brown brogue shoes. His trainer Kevin Barry was similarly attired, although he went for the two-piece option.

Takam, meanwhile, was dressed informally in trainers, jeans and a long top. He also refused to speak English, preferring to let his French-speaking interpreter to reply for him - although as some of the questions came from a so-called comedian who appeared determined to disrupt things that probably wasn't a bad thing.

The 35-year-old Takam did his best, laughing off the joke questions and conferring with Parker as to which Super Rugby team he was supporting while in New Zealand - for the record it was both the Hurricanes and Crusaders, although why he chose those two wasn't readily apparent.

It wasn't all laughs. Takam, who refused to take questions from Duco's media manager Craig Stanaway, but was happy to reply to the press, bristled at a query he had been sparring with Junior Fa, a 26-year-old heavyweight from Papakura who is starting his professional career. Suspicions of spying from a member of Parker's camp led to a Takam sparring session being called off last week and the French Cameroon fighter clearly hasn't forgotten it.

"I'd like to know where you heard that and then I'll give you my answer," he said, when asked about sparring with Fa.

Eventually, he said: "Yes, I sparred with him. I really appreciated the time he took to spar with me. It went well.

"It wasn't necessarily a secret, but also I wasn't necessarily wanting to let everyone know."

For his part, Parker said: "I don't think you can gain a lot sparring this close to the fight."

Not surprisingly Parker was a lot more at ease in the more familiar surroundings, saying he had been relaxing on PlayStation after his training sessions - his favourite games are Black Ops and Streetfighter.

Asked whether he was prepared to be hurt after coming through his previous 18 professional fights undefeated, Parker said: "I have a lot of respect for Carlos and what he's done in his career. He's been in the ring with some big names. The plan is not to get hit, but with boxing, if you have a guy like Carlos who's prepared to give me a good fight, who is confident in himself and who has trained the house down, then you're definitely going to take some punches.

"I'm definitely excited about fighting someone like Carlos, who is going to be a good name on my record if I beat him."

Takam said of Parker: "With time, he's going to be one of the best. But right now I'm here to win."

- NZ Herald

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