Joseph Parker's friend and stablemate Izu Ugonoh has issued a warning to the New Zealander ahead of his world heavyweight title defence against Razvan Cojanu - one mistake could be costly.

Heavyweight Ugonoh knows well the importance of not making errors at the top level. One of his - over-committing in his last fight against Dominic Breazeale in February - resulted in his first defeat as a professional and to make matters worse it was a bout he was winning.

So, in an interview with the Herald from his native Poland, Ugonoh was serious when said of Cojanu, with whom he has sparred and whom Parker will fight at Manukau on Saturday: "He's a threat if you don't do the right things. I believe it's very important to know that.

"I respect Razvan. He's had over 300 amateur fights so he brings that experience into the ring. He's got a good professional record - 16 wins and two losses - and at the end of the day he's a hungry lion.


"Looking at this situation, which is a world title fight, you've got a guy who has been waiting for this opportunity. Definitely this is not someone to be under-estimated.

"Joseph has been preparing to fight someone else and it's all about focus. Now he has to change his focus to fighting someone else and with all the amazing things that are happening in the heavyweight division right now, I just hope he keeps his focus on Cojanu."

Parker is adamant that the 30-year-old Romanian is the only opponent in his thoughts despite the lucrative opportunities in the heavyweight division and the potential to unify the titles in potential fights against Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder.

The only times that the 25-year-old has failed to live up to his potential in the ring have generally come through disrupted training camps, and by all accounts his recent 12-week camp has been a successful one. He is fit, both physically and mentally, and keen to prove a point or two against Cojanu following the late withdrawal of Hughie Fury.

The importance of the fight in the context of the division is also evident in the fact that Sky Sports in the United Kingdom will be broadcasting it live. The UK is the current home of the heavyweight game and Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn will be one of the many keeping an eye on proceedings at the Vodafone Events Centre in South Auckland.

Ugonoh added: "I know Joseph is strong mentally, and I expect him to be strong mentally - he's the WBO heavyweight champion of the world... if he wasn't he wouldn't be where he is right now. But it's easy to overlook an opponent, especially when people expect you to beat someone and... when you might be looking into the future with big fights with Joshua or Wilder.

"It's one step at a time. You can't make a mistake because that might cost you.

"Raz [sparring] in the camp has imitated [others] and played the role that they want him to play. Now he is going to come out for himself and fight in the way that he fights."

Ugonoh, who fought eight times in New Zealand and will soon re-join trainer Kevin Barry at his Las Vegas base in preparation for his next fight, said his error against Breazeale was in the way he emptied his tank in a bid to knock out the big American. Instead, it was Ugonoh who was knocked out. "I didn't have enough experience to deal with the moment when I was tired.

"He survived and made me run out of gas. In that Klitschko v Joshua fight, when Joshua was tired he danced around and didn't throw a punch. Had he thrown one more combination he would have totally run out of gas and ended up the same way I did.

"The key point there was to move around and just get your energy back. I made the mistake to not follow that path. I felt my warrior spirit took over and I went to exchange. That wasn't a smart thing to do.

"It's a painful loss, but I believe in that loss I gained more experience than in my 10 previous fights."