"The power comes from within."

Joseph Parker's personal motto is befitting of the man.

He may have lost the world heavyweight boxing unification bout against England's Anthony Joshua in Cardiff yesterday but he showed why New Zealand should be very proud of him.

Joshua had knocked out all his previous opponents but was unable to land a decent shot on Parker, who proved he really is a potential world heavyweight champion. Next time he fights Joshua, Parker will know he can last the distance but he needs to get busier in the ring to beat him. That will come.

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Read more: Hundreds of Tauranga locals watch Joseph Parker fight

Parker has been a frequent visitor to Tauranga during his first two years as a pro boxer. His promotional team liked to send him and his opponents round the regions to gee up interest in his fights in Auckland.

Journeymen boxers Kahli Meehan, Jason Pettaway, Brian Minto and Afa Tatupu came along for the media ride without making a fuss but the unforgettable South African Francois Botha was something else altogether.

At the end of a respected career he taunted Parker throughout uttering his famous line "I am going to put baby Joseph to sleep" several times for effect.

It was great fun and helped drum up then record numbers to pay-per-view. The only boxer who went to sleep when they fought was Botha who got an old fashioned hiding from the fired-up Parker. That win put Parker on the map.

The first impression Parker made on me was how gracious and polite he was. He is from that solid, God-fearing Samoan upbringing where you respect your parents and are polite to strangers.

We met at various venues including TGA BOX, the gym of boxing trainer Chris Walker who had two fighters in the New Zealand team at the Delhi Commonwealth Games alongside Parker.

Tauranga's Gunnar Jackson, the former NZPBA middleweight title holder, was singled out by Parker on one of those visits.

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"I have known Gunnar since my amateur days and have seen him fight since he turned pro and we have been supporting him ever since," Parker told me. "He sort of led the pathway for us to turn pro as watching him and others do well inspired me too. I thought if they can do well then so can I with hard training."

Parker's preferred place to meet us was always Pilot Bay. The boy from South Auckland just loved the water views and Mauao. The first time he was there he looked across The Mall towards one of the better properties and said he wanted to own a place like that. Now he can afford to.

 Joseph Parker and Peter White at TGA BOX gym. PHOTO/FILE
Joseph Parker and Peter White at TGA BOX gym. PHOTO/FILE

My favourite memory is big Joseph spotting the locals fishing off the wharf and going over to talk to them. The look on their faces as a man of Parker's stature came over for a chat was priceless.

Undoubtedly getting former Olympic medalist and David Tua's former trainer Kevin Barry on board was the turning point in Parker's development. Not one for small talk or humour, Barry was unapologetic that he put Parker in the ring with so many tough, veteran fighters in 2014 and 2015.

"We are going to put him in fights where he was challenged and could develop so that when the time came, and he was in a real fight against a big time fighter, he had learned his trade."

Prophetic words indeed from Barry with how well Parker handled his biggest test yet against Joshua. He may have lost the fight but he is young and there will be other opportunities. To so many of us he is already a champion.