Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Eyes of the world on Joseph Parker

Largest broadcast to come out of NZ puts Kiwi in spotlight.
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker at the weigh in. Photo /
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker at the weigh in. Photo /

The eyes of the world will be on New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker when he steps into the ring for his high-stakes bout against Alexander Dimitrenko in Manukau tonight.

The fight, which could propel the 24-year-old into a potential title challenge against Anthony Joshua or Andy Ruiz Jr, or force him to re-build his career, has been distributed to 53 countries around the world, and will represent the largest boxing broadcast out of New Zealand.

Viewers in countries such as Japan, Germany, France, Spain, India, Pakistan and China will be able to view Parker in action. In the United Kingdom the fight will be shown on Sky Sports in its entirety before the Juergen Braehmer v Nathan Cleverly light heavyweight world title fight which will guarantee it a big audience.

The heightened interest has been sparked by the fact the undefeated Parker is on the rise and that his opponent, a giant 2.01m Ukraine, is European. With Parker the mandatory challenger to Brit Joshua's IBF title, and potentially also closing on a home fight against Mexican-American Ruiz Jr for Tyson Fury's WBO title, the South Aucklander is becoming a lucrative prospect.

Promoter Dean Lonergan said the rights had been signed by global company CSI Sports.

"These guys have shown an interest in Joe for the last 12 months and we've been working with them for a long time, but it's only now that we've been able to close the deal," Lonergan said. "The importance of that cannot be underestimated given we are going to be working really hard to try to get the Andy Ruiz WBO title fight down here. International TV is what it's all about."

The fight between New Zealanders David Tua and Shane Cameron in 2009 was shown in 30 countries - the previous high.

Lonergan said the viewers of the fight at the Vodafone Events Centre would number in the millions but that they wouldn't necessarily lead to a financial windfall in the short term.

"This time around, not a lot, because we're more interested in the TV distribution than we are monetising it. It took a long time to build Joseph's brand in New Zealand and it's going to take a long time to build it internationally. The more people we can put it in front of the better it's going to be for Joseph.

"It heightens the importance of what's going to happen tomorrow night."

Parker weighed in at 109kg, slightly heavier than he has been in his previous 20 professional fights as he seeks to pack on bulk and power in order to combat the 115.15kg Dimitrenko and the bigger opponents likely to follow. "We've cut down on the conditioning and we've added the weights," Parker said.

"I feel the weights have definitely helped put the strength on and helped with the little niggles and injuries. I feel they have disappeared.

"He's a big guy with a lot of muscle and a lot of power. As heavyweight I'm still quite small, and probably lighter than a lot of heavyweights, so I had to put on a bit more weight - probably two kilos from the last fight."

Renowned for his hand speed and ability to throw lightning combinations, Parker said his velocity hadn't suffered as a result, but he will need to be at his best against an extremely fit looking and motivated Dimitrenko.

"I am ready to win this fight," Dimitrenko said. "I am ready to give my best. I am ready to die in the ring."

Parker replied: "He's ready. I'm ready. Let's get it on."

Trainer Kevin Barry said: "Looking at Dimitrenko on the scales today, it's a lot different to when we saw him in New Zealand six weeks ago. He's in very, very good shape. It's going to be a very competitive fight. Joe is under pressure in this fight and when you're under pressure that's when real champions step up. That's what I'm looking for him to do."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

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


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 22 Oct 2016 16:03:39 Processing Time: 647ms