Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Brave bid by Joseph Parker, says former world champion

British two-time world champ commends Kiwi for taking on dangerous opponent.

David Haye, the charismatic two-time world boxing champion undergoing a renaissance in the United Kingdom, says Kiwi Joseph Parker is brave to fight Carlos Takam and could have taken an easier route to a world title shot.

Parker will fight French-Cameroon 35-year-old Takam at Manukau's Vodafone Events Centre tomorrow night, a bout which if he wins will pitch the South Aucklander into an IBF world heavyweight title shot, probably against Anthony Joshua in London.

Haye, also 35, has sparred extensively with Takam, and said he was tougher than anyone Joshua or WBC title-holder Deontay Wilder has fought.

"I think if I had a list of all the opponents, I'd put Carlos Takam at the top and it shows the courage of Parker to take on such a dangerous challenger in a mandatory," Haye said.

"He's ranked highly in a number of the governing bodies, so he didn't have to take this fight. He could've gone down another route but he chose to take this tough route because he wants a shot at Anthony Joshua's IBF title and this is a final eliminator for that."

Haye, a popular figure in England, has resurrected his career after a three-and-a-half year hiatus.

Haye, who yesterday had his picture taken with All Black Sonny Bill Williams - in London with the New Zealand sevens team and with boxing pretensions of his own - lost to then champion Wladimir Klitschko by decision in 2011.

His return, plus Tyson Fury's capture of the WBA and WBO titles and Joshua's ownership of the IBF belt, means the balance of power in terms of professional boxing is in England.

It's easy to see Parker fighting Haye in London in the near future, which makes the Englishman's comments about Takam all the more significant.

"It's a very tough fight. Carlos Takam is a serious, serious contender. He pushed Alexander Povetkin to the wire. He really did push him.

"I've had him in sparring for six weeks at one stage. Every day, he gave a great account of himself, very fit and very strong. He can take a shot as well, big heart, and Joseph Parker is going to have to use every ounce of experience he's got," said Haye.

"He needs a solid game plan, he needs to utilise his arm length and his punching power and try to neutralise Carlos Takam.

"Takam isn't the kind of guy you 'pick' for an opponent. He's too tough, he causes too many potential issues. He's the type of guy you have to fight in a mandatory," said Haye.

"You have to be forced to fight this guy to fight for a world title. That's the only time this guy gets any work," the Briton said.

When asked what his advice for Parker would be, Haye, who has fought 29 times as a professional, with only two losses, said: "Listen to your coach. Stay focused, stay relaxed and believe in yourself. He's done everything right so far and all he has to do is get it tactically right."

- NZ Herald

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