Lennox Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight world champion, says New Zealander Joseph Parker should take a break to work on his weaknesses before getting back in the ring.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Lewis said Parker, who lost his WBO world title to Anthony Joshua in Cardiff in April and lost again to another Englishman, Dillian Whyte, in London in July, has two specific flaws: he's relatively easy to hit and his right hand is too easily read by his opponents.
Parker has vowed to fight on despite his two losses – both by unanimous decision – and the fact that he was concussed by a head clash against Whyte, and his promoter David Higgins is currently sifting through options. Parker, 26, has said he wants to fight again before the end of the year but the selection of his next opponent is crucial because another defeat would be devastating for his career.
And, according to Lewis, elite opponents probably won't have a lot to fear against Parker, although he did acknowledge that the Kiwi-Samoan was a quick puncher.
"Joseph Parker has a couple of things that he does wrong," Lewis said. "Good fighters can really take advantage of that – and they did. And one of the big problems is that he moves straight back. He doesn't give you angles, and a blind man can basically weather two punches from Joseph Parker and throw four punches back and will hit him because he only moves back in the same space.
"His biggest advantage is actually speed. He's got speed and combinations. But another problem is that he telegraphs his right hand. His right hand is a looping right hand, anybody can stop that or see that. So those are two things that I see straight away.
"These things can be fixed he just needs the proper training. I'm not saying that he has a bad trainer he just needs someone to teach him a couple of things. He can still be with his trainer, he just needs to learn. And that was the big thing with me in boxing, to make sure that I learned the craft well, so that when I stepped into the ring I had all these things sorted out. A good trainer can't look at me and say 'Hey, look at this guy he backs up and he telegraphs his right hand'. All those weaknesses I've got I made them strengths."
Lewis, born in London and with Jamaican and Canadian heritage, fought 44 times as a professional and lost only twice in a long and distinguished career. Significantly, the men he lost to – Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman – he later beat. One fight in particular which will resonate with New Zealanders was his bout against Kiwi-Samoan David Tua in Las Vegas in 2000, a unanimous decision victory.
Lewis, known as a technical and intelligent fighter, was a great champion and beat many other greats, including Vitali Klitschko, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. The now 52-year-old also got out of the fight game with all his faculties intact. He retired at the age of 37 after a 14-year professional career and was never tempted to go back.
Parker boxed relatively defensively against the taller Joshua and as a result was hardly hit, but, encouraged to go on the offensive against Whyte, he did so from the first bell and had a successful first round but was hit far too often thereafter, hitting the deck in the second round due to a headbutt which wasn't recognised as such by the referee, and, after recovering from that, he was put down in the ninth round with a left hook.
Somehow Parker, who had never been put down before, rallied in the 12th round to drop Whyte and would probably have stopped him had the bout gone for another 30 seconds.
A more balanced approach between attack and defence would probably have been desirable against Whyte, who proved he belongs in the world's elite.
"When you look at Parker's last fight he needed to be more adaptable and I don't think he had the knowledge to help him once he went behind," Lewis added. "So, it's more about him re-learning and being committed to practising those new techniques, rather than a question of who he is fighting.
"What you do is basically go and practice all the things you've learned. If he takes some time out and starts doing the proper fundamentals in training, he has to get in the ring and do the same things. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and that is true to a certain degree.
"It's like golf, if you start off bad that's just the way you're going to be doing it. It's more about re-programming himself and then working on that. I had to do that, that's what made me a five-dimensional fighter. In the fight I can change my style. I can throw down in the middle of the ring, but when it comes time for me to move I'll be elusive, I'll move about."