Kiwi heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker has split with long-time trainer Kevin Barry by mutual consent.
The Herald understands both men agreed to the decision yesterday after Parker's unanimous points victory over Junior Fa at Auckland's Spark Arena on Saturday night.
Barry left for his Las Vegas home yesterday and the fact he is based in the United States will partly explain the outcome. The pair have been together for eight years, with Parker living in his home and looking up to him as a father figure.
Parker, 29, has three young daughters with wife Laine, and, given the changed landscape Covid-19 has presented, and the time he has spent with them at his South Auckland home recently, further separation will have been difficult to accept.
But he will also have come to the realisation that change is necessary in order for him to develop as a fighter given his advancing years – he has been a professional since 2012 – and the fact he is within touching distance of another shot at the WBO world heavyweight belt. Parker's management confirmed the split this morning.
Parker hasn't developed as he would have liked following his world title triumph over Andy Ruiz Jr in Auckland in late 2016. In fact, his hand speed – his greatest attribute - has probably dipped and the power that he will have expected to gather due to his maturing body has failed to eventuate.
Fellow Kiwi Fa comfortably went the distance with him on Saturday night, with Parker failing to trouble him. In fact, Parker's frustration was evident in the second half of the fight and he was disappointed afterwards despite his hand being raised in victory. He had predicted a knockout victory.
Parker and Barry began as a partnership in 2013 and it quickly proved itself after a points decision over Brice Ritani Coe in the United States when Parker knocked out veteran Frans Botha in Auckland a month later.
It was an incredibly composed performance in a main event fight for such an inexperienced fighter and it paved the way for bigger and more lucrative fights around the world culminating in Parker's huge, albeit unsuccessful, title defence against Anthony Joshua in Cardiff in 2018.
The split will generate huge speculation about Parker's next move, with Israel Adesanya's trainer Eugene Bareman, who was an assistant trainer for Fa, suggesting recently that Parker had enquired about attending his increasingly famous City Kickboxing gym in Auckland.
There is little time to bed in a relationship with a new trainer as Parker could be in line to fight Englishman Dereck Chisora in London as early as May 1.
If successful, Parker could be in line for another world title shot. If Anthony Joshua gives up his WBO belt, as expected, in order to fight Tyson Fury in a mega two-fight deal, Parker, ranked No3 with the organisation, could fight the winner of Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk versus Englishman Joe Joyce for the belt.
The outspoken Chisora was quick to deliver his verdict on Parker's performance, saying: "The fight was not great.
"The simple reason for that was they didn't spar a lot. They were not in shape, they didn't train hard enough. There was no fear factor for both of them."