Joseph Parker's professional heavyweight credentials will be tested to the full against experienced American Brian Minto tonight.
It will be the continuation of the 22-year-old's education in a cut-throat business, and education that will increase in tempo and difficulty over the next year as he seeks a world title fight within 18 months.
Parker's next bout is likely to be in America next month, possibly in Pennsylvania, New York or Atlantic City, as his handlers Duco move to raise his profile Stateside.
"We're going to put the foot to the floor in terms of his career," Duco Events' David Higgins said yesterday. "We started out fighting maybe four times a year. There was an injury setback with the cut [inflicted by Afa Tatufu in Auckland last year], but you can expect to see Joseph fighting much more often.
"We've studied the records of some of the greats, like George Foreman, Wladimir Klitschko, Mike Tyson and Mohammed Ali, and during the first stages of their careers, the first two or three years, some of them were fighting eight to 12 times a year.
"Joseph has made the comment that there is no better learning experience than the fight itself - you can spar all you want but it isn't the same as fighting. He's keen to fight more often."
Although Parker and his promoters want to build his marketability abroad, they also want to maintain his links with New Zealand. Higgins believes the South Aucklander will fight in New Zealand again in October before going overseas again.
"We're targeting markets in Asia, Australia and the US, primarily," Higgins said. "If he beats Minto he will go into the top 10 or close to it and all sorts of opportunities will open up. I think he'll get a title shot within 18 months."
The usually reserved Parker has been determined to set the agenda in the build-up to this fight. He held an open sparring session for the first time and he threatened in a press conference to "hurt" Minto, another first.
There is a sense that he is entering into the "showbiz" element of the fight game as he prepares to take his career to the next level.
Parker has a weight, height and reach advantage over Minto, but the 39-year-old has a lot more experience, and his ability to reach deep into a bag of tricks could pose problems.
Minto has talked about Parker possibly still having problems with his perforated eardrum, incurred in his last victory, over Marcelo Nascimento. The Kiwi has denied it.
A bigger concern for Parker's camp will be Minto's tendency to lead with his head and elbows. A head or elbow clash in his last fight against Shane Cameron opened up a big cut above the New Zealander's left eye and paved the way for Minto's victory, although he was also ahead on points.
For Parker to increase his chances of success, he must use his jab to keep Minto away. Despite shedding 6kg since his last fight against Nascimento in Germany in April, Parker does not appear to have lost any of his power.
"For a mobile fighter like Brian Minto, it was important for me after the fight in Germany to reduce Joseph's weight," trainer Kevin Barry said. "He did a lot more road work, plyometrics and explosive movement in the build-up to this fight."
A cool Parker said at yesterday's weigh-in: "I'm ready to go. I'm calm, I'm relaxed, I've done all the hard work in the training camp with Kevin."