Alexander Dimitrenko, the giant Ukrainian Joseph Parker will fight in Manukau in a fortnight, has launched an early offensive, saying the Kiwi heavyweight "lost" his IBF world title eliminator against Carlos Takam.
Dimitrenko has also claimed Parker's promoters, Duco Events, are taking him far too lightly and that, after looking into the eyes of Parker, he knows the 24-year-old is not ready for him or his title fight against Anthony Joshua, which is likely to be held in London in March, should both men remain undefeated.
Parker's unanimous points victory over 12 rounds against Takam in May earned him the right to challenge for the IBF title. It was a clear-cut victory for the judges and most observers, but not according to Dimitrenko, who made his comments in a press conference in Hamburg recently.
"He is fast, he is agile, but he doesn't yet have any history," Dimitrenko said of Parker, undefeated after 20 professional fights. "In his fight against Carlos Takam, he lost - he really did lose it - but he was named the winner.
"He is young. He's 24. He's 10 years younger than me. I met him at the end of July at a press conference in Auckland and, yeah, what should I say? I have seen in his eyes that he is not ready yet. He is still young, but you should never underestimate someone. This is important in boxing.
"We will see when we meet. I can't tell you what will happen in the future. He is fast. He has fast hands, which I've seen in his fights, but he is not a veteran and he underestimates me.
"Duco think they can just move through me on their way to Anthony Joshua ... they're giving me absolutely no serious consideration."
It remains to be seen whether Dimitrenko, speaking German, is as outspoken in his press conference in Auckland on Tuesday.
He arrived in the city on Thursday, and Parker is due to arrive from his Las Vegas base today. The pair will meet at the Vodafone Events Centre on October 1.
On hearing about Dimitrenko's comments, Duco Events spokesman Craig Stanaway said: "I'm no optometrist, but I've also looked into Joseph's eyes and he's very motivated to put on a show against Dimitrenko on October 1."
All the indications are that it will be Parker's last fight before he faces Englishman David Price on the undercard of Joshua's second title defence in Manchester on November 25. Negotiations for that bout are continuing.
At 2.01m, Dimitrenko will take an 8cm height advantage into the ring against Parker. He has lost only twice in 40 professional fights - against tough Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev and veteran American Eddie Chambers. Since the Pulev defeat in Germany in 2012, Dimitrenko has fought just six times, but was hampered by an Achilles injury in 2014.
A victory over Parker would hand him the right to challenge for the IBF title and would be a huge boost to a career in danger of flagging. "This is my last chance," he said. "I have nothing to lose. He has everything to lose."