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

Boxing: Why a win in next fight is the bare minimum for Joseph Parker

New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker. Photo / Andrew Cornaga.
New Zealand Heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker. Photo / Andrew Cornaga.

It seems the whole world has gone heavyweight boxing crazy over the past few days but Joseph Parker says he doesn't feel under any additional pressure to dispatch Razvan Cojanu in sensational fashion following Anthony Joshua's epic win at Wembley.

A victory at Manukau on Saturday night in Kiwi Parker's first defence of his WBO is the bare minimum, however, and privately he would like to finish the fight against Cojanu, a former sparring partner, well within the scheduled 12 rounds in order to put his own name forward as a genuine champion with real heavyweight power.

In theory he should. Parker, undefeated during his professional career, will have studied Cojanu's style for less than a fortnight before the pair get into the ring at the Vodafone Events Centre following the late and inconvenient withdrawal of Hughie Fury, but he and trainer Kevin Barry know the Romanian's attributes well enough and Parker's skill and speed are on a different level.

There are big things ahead for Parker, particularly in England and potentially as early as August, but he is adamant he is thinking only about Cojanu rather than Joshua or Wladimir Klitschko or the incredible scenes at Wembley last Sunday.

It's not hard to feel for Parker, though, who has had so-called experts on the other side of the world question his credentials and power virtually as soon as 27-year-old Joshua raised his hands in triumph.

That was the Englishman's coming-of-age-fight, and it happened in front of 90,000 supporters and a worldwide audience of millions. Parker would have been ringside too had Fury not delayed their original April 1 fight date and then fail to turn up at all, but despite his distance to those life-changing events in London, he will get his chance soon.

Asked about his determination to make a statement against Cojanu, Parker said: "It will help big time but I guess it's not about that. For us, we're just focusing on what we want to do and our plan. I'm not really worried about what other people think.

"Going into a fight you never plan on stopping the guy. You hope you can. It would be a great result, but this guy has come prepared and is ready as well.

"I know this guy, I know what he brings, and the power that he presents in the ring. I think that just a win will be great but we'll see what happens. Like you saw in the fight at the weekend - one punch can change everything."

Parker was referring in particular to Joshua's uppercut in the 11th round against Klitschko which was the beginning of the end for a 41-year-old who had bounced back off the canvas in the fifth round to send Joshua crashing down in the sixth.

How Parker himself would like to finish the fight against Cojanu in such decisive fashion.

Trainer Kevin Barry was keen to stress that Parker has done that before and he no doubt will again, but the attitude among many in the boxing world is that now that Joshua is sitting atop the division, everyone else by definition is second rate.

Asked about those who doubt his power, Parker replied, with an edge in his voice: "Say what you want to say and believe what you want to believe. Is is about power or is it about speed? Can he catch me or can he not? We'll see.

"I feel like I'm in great shape mentally and physically. I feel like the changes that have come before this fight haven't really affected me because I feel like I'm ready for whatever comes my way."

Barry, meanwhile, believes Parker wouldn't have let Joshua off the hook like a tiring Klitschko did, saying: "I can promise you this; if Joseph Parker hit Anthony Joshua on the chin and had him on his back like he was in the sixth round of that fight, that fight would be over. There would be no rounds seven to 11.

"Joe has very heavy hands and uncommon hand speed for a heavyweight. Does he hit as hard as Joshua? No, I don't think he does, but when you combine Joe's power with his speed, that combination for me is as lethal as anything Joshua has."

- NZ Herald

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