Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Joseph Parker - I'm ready for Joshua

New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker v French Cameroon boxer Carlos Takam. Photo / Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker v French Cameroon boxer Carlos Takam. Photo / Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

In the aftermath of his unanimous decision victory over Carlos Takam, a fight which took him to new depths in almost every way, Joseph Parker announced he was ready to take on Anthony Joshua for the IBF world heavyweight title.

Read more: Parker passes toughest test

Now that Parker is mandatory challenger, the fight will happen in London and probably early next year - providing Joshua retains his title, as expected - and this hard-earned victory over Takam in Manukau last night will have proved to most that Parker is up to it.

Takam was easily the toughest man he has ever fought, with only two losses in a 36-fight professional career. In fact, Joshua has never fought anyone of Takam's ability.

Parker has also never gone beyond 10 rounds before. But, most significantly of all, he has never had to soak up the punishment he did during this 12-round war, and particularly in the fifth round, when he was wobbled but recovered superbly.

"I back myself against any fighter that I fight in the ring with... Joshua is the IBF champion of the world," Parker said, sweat still rolling down his face in the dressing room. "When the opportunity comes we'll take it and I feel like it's our time."

To get to this point, Parker was put through the toughest of tests by the 35-year-old Cameroon fighter.

However, he said he felt he wasn't in as much trouble in the fifth as many thought. "I didn't feel I was in trouble. A lot of the punches that he threw missed. There were stages that he caught me ... but I refocused."


Parker regrouped and launched an incredible assault in the eighth round, one that Takam somehow withstood.

Asked what it felt like hitting Takam, Parker said: "It felt like he had a very solid head. He's been in the ring with some big names. You can tell he trained hard. It was 12 rounds of war, really. I learned a lot from this fight.

"He has heart and he was prepared. I felt like I had him in the eighth round, I hit him with some good shots to the head. But the only thing I forgot to do was go to the body... when I got excited I went to the head."

Trainer Kevin Barry, sitting alongside Parker, said: "We've been taking little steps over the last three years but I've got to say, this was not a little step. This was a real guy. I tried to prepare everybody and tell you that Joe was going to have to dig deeper than he ever had before - he dug deeper than he ever has before.


"Joe would learn more from this fight than in his previous 18 fights. I'm very proud of him because he had to weather some storms, some very vicious rounds for him.

"The great thing for me was hearing that all three judges voted for Joe. There was no controversy, even the French judge... we sort of thought he would vote for Takam, but even he had Joe winning by four points."

Like many of his supporters at the seething Vodafone Events Centre, Barry was worried at times. "I said at the end of the ninth round that 'this is real heavyweight boxing'," Barry told Parker. "This is the big-time stuff. I said 'you belong here, I need these next three rounds. You're going to win these next three rounds and you're going to start by winning round 10', which I thought he won. He won round 11, the 12th was pretty close.

"It showed me that Joseph Parker does belong with the top heavyweights in the world. But Joe is only 24 years old. We've got a long way to go and he's got a lot to learn. We've got a very, very exciting fighter in New Zealand at the moment who is ranked No1 by the IBF."

Shortly after the fight, Parker was given the chocolate cake in his changing room. He dug into the cake with his hand, using his signature hook move.

He invited all of those in the changing room after the fight to grab a handful of cake.

Parker with his celebratory cake.
Parker with his celebratory cake.

Asked about Parker weathering Takam's storm, Barry replied: "That was another of the questions that was answered today. Everybody was asking what's Joe going to be like when he's hit on the chin - not once or twice, but plenty of times. I think you can see there's nothing wrong with the chin of Joseph Parker."

Promoter Dean Lonergan refused to rule out suggestions that Parker could fight on a Joshua undercard in London in November, adding: "I'm not elated, I'm just relieved.
"Joseph has made a statement tonight that he's one of the best heavyweights in the world."


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