Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Haumono's fight not biggest he has faced

Solomon Haumono. Photo / Getty Images
Solomon Haumono. Photo / Getty Images

Getting into the ring against Joseph Parker in Christchurch on Thursday will be an achievement in itself for Solomon Haumono, a former league player turned professional boxer who has confronted several personal demons.

The 40-year-old has admitted to using drugs during his NRL career and suffered from severe depression which led to several suicide attempts.

"I began using ice [meth] while I was still playing in the NRL. I am just so lucky it didn't take a hold of me like it has so many others," he said in an interview last year with the Sunday Telegraph.

Auckland-born Haumono, who played for several Australian league clubs, has admitted being addicted to drugs for decades. At his worst point, he was manufacturing his own drugs, including meth, and has also admitted using marijuana and cocaine.

Haumono followed his father Maile in becoming an Australian heavyweight champion. Raised in Sydney, he is of Tongan heritage and played in the Tonga side which almost upset the Kiwis at the 1995 World Cup.

He quit league to follow his passion for boxing in 2000, the same time as friend Anthony Mundine. Mundine, who made his pro debut on the same card and went on to have a successful career, reckons Haumono can surprise Parker.

"I texted him when I found out he got the fight against Parker, because I know how big this is, the biggest of his career," Mundine told the Daily Telegraph recently. "His response to me was, 'I'm going to take him to dark places'.

"Now I don't know what that meant, but I definitely don't want to be going to dark places with Sol. If you don't know the brother, and he says he wants to take you to a dark place, you definitely aren't going anywhere good.

"Sol is in with a big chance, simply because of his sheer power and belief in himself. The one thing I know about Sol is that his desire to be a world champion goes back a long way."

A victory for Haumono against Parker would be a huge shock and would pave the way for a shot at Anthony Joshua's IBF heavyweight title.

Parker represents the highest quality opponent Haumono has faced in his 28 professional fights, of which he has won 24, but while trainer Justin Fortune has said his man is in the best possible physical shape, the occasion is a big one for someone who appeared overawed in his last fight against lowly Argentine Manuel Alberto Pucheta.

Haumono has been angling for a fight against Parker for some time. Now he gets his chance in what is likely to be the biggest pay-day of his career, quite some achievement given where he was a few years ago.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 09 Dec 2016 17:02:11 Processing Time: 374ms