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

Boxing: Boxers scrap for recognition

Junior Fa has a three-year contract to fight in the United States. Photo / photosport.nz
Junior Fa has a three-year contract to fight in the United States. Photo / photosport.nz

Joseph Parker's intention to fight overseas as WBO world heavyweight champion is probably a blessing and curse for the local professional boxing scene.

Fighters such as Junior Fa, the holder of the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) heavyweight title, could potentially gain a bigger share of the spotlight in Parker's absence, but the downside is he won't be appearing in big arenas on undercards to fights which attract a worldwide audience of millions.

For Fa, who fought on the Parker v Andy Ruiz Jr world title main event at the renamed Spark Arena last December and then three months later appeared in Alabama on the undercard of Deontay Wilder's defence of his WBC heavyweight title, it is back to smaller venues for the near future.

His fight against Keith Barr in the United States was his first under new promoter Lou di Bella, an American, and it came after he met and watched Wilder spar in his gym. He was impressed with what he experienced. In March, three weeks after he knocked out Barr, Fa, an undefeated 27-year-old who beat Parker twice as an amateur, battled to a majority points decision victory over Daniel Tai for the NZPBA heavyweight title.

Now he is in training to fight Australian Hunter Sam at the 500-seat ABA Stadium in Auckland on May 25, a Shane Cameron promotion free to Sky TV subscribers.

"It gives me a chance to showcase my talents and be seen by the public, especially the New Zealand public, to show there's more talent here apart from Joseph," Fa told the Herald on Sunday.

Fa is expecting a much better performance against Sam, a 32-year-old who has lost his last seven fights, saying he didn't allow his body to recover from the travel home from the US before taking on Tai.

"I went into the fight with the worst mindset but I always had confidence that I could beat Daniel Tai on my worst day," Fa said. "That was why I took the fight.

"The performance I put on wasn't flattering . . . so I'm training really hard for my next fight and making sure I put on a better performance, especially with it being on TV."

This will be former pro boxer Cameron's eighth fight promotion and first partnering with Sky. There is a lot on the line for everyone.

"I'm really excited about Sky giving me the opportunity to showcase a good fight night," Cameron said. "There's no one around doing the shows I'm doing. I don't have a marquee fighter as such. Junior has potential but people have to prove themselves. Parker has obviously proven himself - he's world champion. Junior has all the attributes and ability to become world champion and time will tell."

Of Fa, Cameron said: "He really needs to take care of business to prove to me as a promoter and the public that he is worth following."

Joseph Parker. Photo / Photosport
Joseph Parker. Photo / Photosport

Two of Cameron's own fighters, unbeaten super welterweights Shay Brock and Ricky Murphy, will feature on the nine-fight card.

The local super welterweight scene is probably the most competitive, with Brock and Murphy ranked below Cantabrian Bowyn Morgan by the Boxrec website. Top-ranked New Zealand cruiserweight David Aloua is based in Melbourne, while No 1-ranked local light heavyweight Robert Berridge has lost five of his last 10 fights. In a fortnight, Berridge will fight Canadian Ryan Ford in Singapore for the little-known Universal Boxing Organisation world title.

For Sky TV's director of sports Richard Last, the Cameron promotion is an opportunity to develop up-and-coming fighters.

"If people don't get showcased, it's really hard for them to find a following, and if they don't find a following and people aren't interested, it's hard for them to get funded and they don't go as far as they might," Last said.

"We were quite involved with Duco in building Joseph's record and his awareness around the world and now he's a world champion, which he's worked really hard for. If we can repeat that every three or four years and we had a new champion coming through, that would be awesome for boxing in New Zealand."

In promoting Parker to his world champion status, his handlers Duco Events have become almost synonymous with boxing in this country. And while Parker's future looks promising, with two or three big fights likely in the United Kingdom in the short to medium term, Duco's is not so assured.

Co-directors David Higgins and Dean Lonergan have agreed to part ways, which has left the company in a state of flux, but it isn't necessarily a market Cameron wants to move into. Asked about Parker's impending move to the UK, Cameron said: "It's certainly not going to be bad for me, but I'm not hitting the Duco market. They're a pay-per-view market, I'm a free to [subscribers] market.

"It's all a long game. I'm not in there to make a quick buck and try to make stupid amounts of money early and then leave. I'll be consistent in putting on three shows a year minimum."

The overseas market is calling Fa as well. His deal with Di Bella has him fighting three fights a year for three years in the US. In the meantime, Fa is allowed to fight in New Zealand as long as the promotion isn't too big.

California is calling - Fa has family on the West Coast and feels it makes sense to base himself there.

"Eventually - maybe next year - I might start seriously thinking about shifting overseas," he said. "That's the reality of my boxing, that I'll be based in the States."

• Indian Motorcycle Fight Night

Thursday, May 25, ABA Stadium, Auckland, broadcast live on Sky Sports Fights starting at 7pm.

- 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
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 23 May 2017 07:29:58 Processing Time: 1123ms