Whatever happens in the ring Joseph Parker will come out the winner because of his placid demeanour against Anthony Joshua tomorrow morning.

That's what elite Hawke's Bay boxing trainer Craig McDougall has already entered in his scorecard before the professional world heavyweight unification bout at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

"He's your everyday down to earth bloke, He's a great young man — like genuine, kind and he hasn't got a lot to say because he's played the game," says the 42-year-old who owns and operates the Giants Boxing Academy in Hastings.

"No matter what his resolve, what an awesome man trying to get every ounce out of himself for a shot at world titles," says McDougall, reflecting on when Parker came to his gym to spar a few years ago and had no qualms about helping organise breakfast with a former Flaxmere Boxing Academy members and boxers from around the country in Napier.


He reckons even if the fighter with Samoan heritage tries to play up and put on a show for the media he won't be able mask the values of honesty and integrity, something that has won him a legion of fans in Britain, if not globally.

McDougall says the showbiz nature of the promotion has lucrative offerings and hype surrounding it but Parker is "ready to go and fizzing at the opportunity".

That said, he believes it'll be a tall order for the 26-year-old to prove the pundits wrong with the overwhelming 75 per cent odds favouring the Englishman who is two years older and eclipses him in just about every facet in the tale of the tape.

"Joshua is classy. We know he's strong because he's knocked over [Vladimir] Klitschko after he got knocked down so all of that points to a more [genuine] heavyweight champions we've had in recent times because of his credentials," he says.

A laughing McDougall reveals he will be watching the fight on TV at home with an army of other fans "who tend to invite themselves over anyway", which comes with the territory of boxing coach and "is a good thing".

He says any time a Kiwi earns a right to go for a world title in the sport it is an opportunity for New Zealand to celebrate.

Parker is putting his WBO belt on the line while Joshua is defending his WBA and IBF titles in a winner-takes-all fight.

With a lot on the line and the support of a dedicated stable that Kiwi trainer Kevin Barry is leading, Parker should have as good a chance as anybody.


"It's not too dissimilar, in my opinion, to a Lennox Lewis and David Tua bout," he says, alluding to media reports that likened Parker to Tom Heeney, of Gisborne, who took on world champion Gene Tunney, of the United States, and lost despite a brave battle.

Dubbed the Hard Rock from Down Under, former plumber Heeney, who died in 1984, had also played for the Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay rugby team against the Springboks in 1921 — a year after his first professional boxing fight.

"So for Parker, it's a long shot in one sense of the word but you're a boxer and it means everything once you enter that ring."

Owner/trainer Craig McDougall, of Giants Boxing Academy in Hastings, recalls vividly what a great human Joseph Parker was when he came to visit his gym several years ago. Photo/file
Owner/trainer Craig McDougall, of Giants Boxing Academy in Hastings, recalls vividly what a great human Joseph Parker was when he came to visit his gym several years ago. Photo/file

McDougall says if Barry's blueprint is solid Parker will not only go through the 12 rounds but may even do the unthinkable.

The country's expectations, he agrees, ride on a leaner, meaner South Aucklander following surgery to remove some bone chips in his elbow.

"You can put up good performances but if you're going to win these titles then you'll actually need a great one."

McDougall says Parker will need to strike "all his ducks in a row".

That, to some extent, is reflected in his appearance with the Malcolm X-type hairdo and spectacles for someone who isn't traditionally that showy but realises the importance of marketing himself on a global stage to carve a niche. Malcolm X was an African-American human rights activist who was assassinated on February 21, 1965.

"We all know the mental game. We all know that if you don't believe it then you're not going to win it so it genuinely sounds like he does believe it."

He echoes the sentiments of Barry that the Parker camp has done everything it can for the pugilist to show his prowess.

Significantly Parker will have to lift his standards from his winning fight against Hughie Fury, where the Englishman didn't enhance the qualities of ring craft.

An awkward and artless Fury turned the fight into a dawdle on the canvas with both fighters trying to turn each other's lights out with a lucky punch amid countless hugs.

McDougall agrees: "If he's going to win this he'll going to need to win a [cluster] of rounds. That is, getting a bunch of points, boxing well and then leaning in with a few of those clean, crisp shots to win the rounds rather than chasing him around and trying to get a few shots in.

"He also can't afford to be hit too much by Joshua because he's a big unit who can punch."

Big blokes like Anthony Joshua are always susceptible to getting hit, 'glass jaw' or not. Photo/Photosport
Big blokes like Anthony Joshua are always susceptible to getting hit, 'glass jaw' or not. Photo/Photosport

McDougall says there's been a lot of talk about Joshua's "glass jaw" but he reckons all big guys are pretty susceptible to a knuckle sandwich.

"If he [Parker] doesn't focus on that too much it'll be good.

"We always say to our [amateur] boxers, 'Don't look for the knockout because it'll always come. Just make sure you get all your steps in place'," he says.

He says there's nothing worse than a genuinely cumbersome pugilist, such as Fury, but Joshua won't be that.

"You know, hard to hit and arms all over the show so someone who's just tricky to land a clean shot on, whereas this will be a real boxing match."

Joshua, he says, is a former Olympic gold medallist whose tensile template has been built on ring craft.

"When Lennox Lewis boxed like the Olympic champion that he was, it just made it too hard for Tua.

"There's a better chance with Joseph Parker in a boxing contest than there is with an awkward Fury."

A member of the New Zealand high-performance training squad, McDougall is attending the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as a spectator with is wife, Vicki, and their three sons, Cooper, 14, Hadley, 12, and Austin, 10, who this month had his maiden boxing match at the Hastings gym.

"We're going to watch some swimming and athletics and, hopefully, we'll see what else we get to watch," he says, hoping to watch the Wellington pair of Ryan Scaife (75kg division) and Leroy Hindley (69kg).