A good nickname is essential in boxing. There have been many memorable monikers through the years, some better than others, such as "Iron" Mike Tyson, Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns, Oscar "The Golden Boy" De La Hoya, and "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler.

Curiously, a colourful and catchy pseudonym has been missing from the early stages of Joseph Parker's career. If Evander Holyfield has any influence, it might be "The New Deal". That's Holyfield, the only four-time world heavyweight champion who goes by the nickname "The Real Deal".

Holyfield anointed Parker "The New Deal" after witnessing him maintain his unbeaten record (16 wins, 14 knockouts) by disposing of the imposing Kali Meehan inside three rounds last week.

He's become such a big fan he's hoping to be ringside for one of Parker's upcoming fights. Duco Events has invited Holyfield to New Zealand and the 53-year-old is eager to attend.


"If they invite me, I'm sure I will come," Holyfield said down the phone line from Atlanta, Georgia. "Shoot, he's the real deal. I like to see people who know how to fight and he knows how to fight.

"He's a very skilful big guy and he's got the bang. He's got good punching power and, because he's got damn quick hands, he throws a lot of punches.

"After all the people I've seen, I've seen all the [recent] fights, and I think he looks better to me than anybody I've seen."

Duco has been successful in luring big-name boxers Downunder in the past, with Sugar Ray Leonard making a promotional visit in the lead-up to the 2009 David Tua-Shane Cameron bout. He enjoyed his time here so much that he returned the following year.

"We'd love to have Evander Holyfield here," says Duco director David Higgins. "He's one of the all-time greats in boxing and was involved in some of the most memorable fights in history.

"It will be wonderful to have him here and we're pleased to hear he has a favourable view of Joseph and New Zealand, and hopefully we can make it happen."

Once the glamour division, the past 15 years has seen heavyweight boxing stuck in decline, with many fans ranking Holyfield's two fights against Lennox Lewis in the late-90s as the sport's last meaningful rivalry.

Joseph Parker at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. Rising heavyweight boxing star's plan to fight in Samoa will be confirmed at a press conference in Apia today. Supplied: Duco

Holyfield's infamous "Bite Fight" against Tyson in 1997 gained notoriety as one of the most bizarre bouts in history, but that level of scandal and intrigue and the huge worldwide audiences it attracted, along with much of the sport's credibility, disappeared long ago.

Fans are crying out for a fighter to emerge with the speed, power and charisma needed to give the division some spark and counter the dour personalities and sluggish styles of the likes of current heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Holyfield believes Parker has the potential to lead in a new era of heavyweights possessing those qualities and the skill and endurance to give the division the shake-up it needs.

"That's what the world is looking for in heavyweights these days," he says. "Someone who can box, and not try to grab and hold.

"By the end of this year, the new guys, they're coming in and taking over. With him and Anthony Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder, they throw punches. They're going to change a lot of things once Klitschko gets out of there.

"They are not trying to hold you, they're trying to knock you out. And that's what the people are looking for, they're looking for action.

"They want to see real boxing. None of the [current] guys, they ain't going to be able to hang with them. They may have the strength but they don't have the energy."

Holyfield already has a link with the Parker camp, having controversially been disqualified from his semifinal against Kevin Barry - now Parker's trainer and mentor - at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

"Our relationship is grand. He realised that I didn't hit him with a cheap shot but it wasn't his call, it was the referee's call. And we all suffered from that. He raised my hand in a show of true sportsmanship, so I've never had a problem with Kevin whatsoever."

What separates Parker from the rest, Holyfield says, is the relentless variation in his punch selection and his agility. He also dismisses concerns over the 23-year-old's height (1.93m) and is backing him to match it with the biggest and tallest fighters around.

Joseph Parker. Photo / Peter Meecham
Joseph Parker. Photo / Peter Meecham

"At six-four, you can hit anybody. Joseph's got the movement and quick hands but most guys are not going to be as agile as he is. This guy can punch from different angles.

"When he steps a half-step in, when he gets close, he throws good short punches as well. That's what people don't realise. When a person can knock you out from long-range, then they step in and their short punches can knock you out, too. They ain't got no defence for that. That's what he do."

As for areas for improvement, Holyfield says there aren't many.

"I don't see anything wrong with him. If only you could get the head down a little bit, his chin's too straight up. It's little things. But he takes his time and gets his hands up. He don't get hit by everything, which is a sign of a good fighter."

Holyfield is convinced it is only a matter of time before Parker gets a chance to fight for the world heavyweight crown.

"He's going to get the title shot. It's impossible that he not be given a title shot. When nobody can stand there with you.

"If Klitschko's going to give him a shot or not, he's going to retire. But at some point in time the belt's going to be surrendered and he should get an opportunity. He got the goods."

Adding to his appeal, Holyfield is further impressed by Parker's down-to-earth personality and sees a lot of himself in the way he deals with the limelight and attention.

"He kind of reminds me of myself, real humble, and he handles himself very well. It's good that a person can be a good fighter and look decent and not be cocky. He has a way that shows 'I have something that I do real well and I enjoy doing it', and that's what he expresses."

Parker's next fight is on December 5 in Hamilton before he heads to Samoa for the Rumble in Paradise bout in January.

If he maintains his upward trajectory the title shot will inevitably come his way and a win there would vindicate Holyfield's support and cement his status as The New Deal.