Before Junior Fa takes on Joseph Parker, Christopher Reive looks at his top 10 bouts.
10. v Daniel Tai – 18 March, 2017
With the vacant NZPBA heavyweight title on the line, Fa had his first opportunity at a professional belt.
Tai, a well-established veteran of the local scene whose only stoppage loss came at the hands of Australian star Danny Green, became the first opponent to take a round of Fa in a back-and-forth affair. Both fighters had their moments of supremacy during the 10-round bout, with Tai having success in putting pressure on Fa.
However, Fa worked diligently behind his strong jab and appeared to do enough to win most of the rounds. That proved to be the case on two of the judges' scorecards, while the other judged the fight a 95-95 draw. Fa was awarded a majority decision win as a result and earned some valuable experience in fighting with a title on the line.
9. v Craig Lewis – 9 March, 2018
As you will no doubt learn from this list, Fa knows his 196cm frame and 204cm reach are major assets inside the ring. This bout was a great display of Fa's awareness of his advantages and how to best use them.
Establishing the jab early has been an important feature of Fa's approach throughout his career and, once he's found his range, he can move in and out on the back of his lead left hand. His bout against Lewis was a display of exactly that, as he looked to let his right-hand fly after establishing the jab.
Like his bout against Tai, Fa appeared to have won the majority of the rounds despite his opponent having some success during the bout, but again had a judge who found reason to score it a draw while the other two scored the bout in Fa's favour, seeing him take a majority decision win.
8. v Luis Pascual – 22 June, 2018
Squaring off against then Mexican heavyweight champion Pascual for the interim WBO Oriental title, Fa put on a clinic on his way to a unanimous decision win, but did draw some criticism for not being able to end the bout early.
Fa landed some heavy shots throughout the fight that looked to have stung Pascual, but didn't put combinations together to follow those up. To be fair to Fa, there was no real need to risk staying in the pocket to try find the finish. Pascual offered very little in way of attack, and allowed Fa to pick him apart from distance. When the two did get in close proximity, a clinch almost always quickly followed.
This was a good showing of patience and a professional attitude toward his craft from Fa, who seemed content to outbox his opponent and take a convincing win on the scorecards.
7. v Rogelio Omar Rossi – December 15, 2018
This was a completely dominant showing from Junior Fa, who needed just 90 seconds from the opening bell to get the job done.
Fa dropped Rossi early in the first round. While the Argentine was able to beat the count, it only led to more punishment as Fa put him away with a heavy right hand, earning the stoppage with just 1min28sec gone off the clock.
6. v Keith Barr – 25 February, 2017
His first fight after signing on with American promoter Lou DiBella and his first in the United States, Fa put on a good show with a third-round TKO win over Barr.
Fa used his height and reach advantage well from the opening bell, finding his range with the jab and maintaining his distance well. The size advantage was clear to see in the ring, and Barr struggled to work his way inside to land anything of significance against Fa.
Changing up his looks and working both upstairs and to the body, Fa accumulated damage on Barr for two-and-a-bit rounds, before ultimately landing the finishing blow with combination to the body.
5. v Fred Latham – 10 November, 2017
Just his second fight in the United States, Fa was matched against a fellow undefeated heavyweight prospect Latham – and made a massive statement by knocking him out early in the first round.
The fight was officially stopped with 67 seconds gone off the clock, as Fa backed Latham up against the ropes and started to hammer away with a barrage of shots to the head and body. Latham was able to keep his guard up momentarily, but was soon stung with some heavy shots in the corner and the fight was waved off as soon as he hunched over.
4. v Dominick Guinn – 28 June, 2019
Unlike many of the fights on this list, Fa had to overcome some adversity in this bout.
In Guinn's long career, he had never been stopped so it was no surprise to see this bout go to the scorecards. What was surprising though was the 44-year-old catching Fa early in the fourth round and sending him to the canvas for the first and only time in his career to date.
Fa was floored within 30 seconds of the round starting which meant Guinn would have plenty of time to work with to finish the job. After beating the referee's count, Fa fought a smart round; tying Guinn up and making it hard for the American journeyman to get any shots of significance away.
Fa was able to recover and was the better fighter for the rest of the bout, eventually coming away with a fairly convincing unanimous decision win.
While not the most dominant fight of Fa's career, this was a bout where Fa was taken to a place he had never been before, providing intrigue to the excitement of the action in the ring.
3. v Pablo Matías Magrini – 10 December, 2016
Everyone is looking for that fight to make their name; one where the stage is big enough to turn heads. For Fa, that came on the undercard of the WBO Heavyweight Title bout between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Fa was matched against tough Argentine Magrini, who came into the bout with just one loss in 19 fights, with 13 wins by stoppage.
Expected to be the hardest bout to that point in his career, Fa put on a dominant showing against the diminutive Magrini and handed him the first TKO loss of his career after battering his body in the third round. A little more than a month after the bout, it was announced that Fa had signed with American promoter Lou DiBella.
2. v Newfel Ouatah – March 2, 2019
This bout was all one-way traffic, with Fa putting Ouatah down four times in an 80-second span to get the stoppage with 10 seconds left before the bell sounded to end the first round. Fa came out quickly, establishing his ranging immediately behind some well-placed jabs to the body. Though Fa continuously pressed forward, Ouatah struggled to land many shots; when he did throw, Fa evaded with good head movement and footwork.
A round clearly going Fa's way, the beginning of the end came from a clinch initiated by Ouatah with his back on the ropes. Ouatah used it to bring the fight back to the middle of the ring, but was too casual as the referee allowed them to box out, and Fa made him pay.
Fa planted the Frenchman with a straight right, landing it right on the button and sending Ouatah to the canvas. Ouatah beat the standing count, only to be felled three more times before the bout was mercifully waved off.
It wasn't the fastest win of his career, but this was as perfect a showing from Fa as you could hope to see.
1. v Devin Vargas – 15 November 2019
As you might expect, Fa's most recent fight saw him take on his toughest opponent to date. Vargas, a former Olympian, had become something of a gatekeeper in the heavyweight division - having fought Andy Ruiz Jr just two fights prior to his bout against Fa.
Vargas proved to be a strong competitor and a stern test for Fa, though Fa was able to come out with a unanimous decision win.
This was a bout for the spectators. Both landed good shots throughout the 10 rounds, with Vargas doing some solid work with uppercuts in the clinch, and Fa working behind his jab from range. Fa, who had a sizeable reach advantage, was the more active of the two throughout the contest and dropped Vargas twice with body shots – once in the fifth round then again in the eighth.
With the fight going the distance, both athletes dropped off the pace at times during the bout, but Fa was able to stay active and land short combinations at a high rate for the majority of the fight, particularly in the later rounds.
While he wasn't able to get the finish, going the distance was arguably more beneficial for Fa against his highest calibre opponent yet.