Joseph Parker won't be the only one trying to avoid a knockout blow when the heavyweight boxing circus pitches tent in London over the weekend.

Rightly or wrongly, the spotlight will inevitably turn on trainer Kevin Barry and even Parker's management team if he produces another dud on Sunday.

Defeat would be a disaster, but a limp win won't mean Parker is on the right track, far from it.

Parker's April title shootout with Brit Anthony Joshua fell flat like the proverbial pancake, but he'll be something far crisper — toast — if things go drastically wrong against Joshua's less credentialed countryman Dillian Whyte.

Advertisement

It was pop guns at 10 paces at the Millennium Stadium as Joshua treated Parker with disdain.

The post-fight finger pointing at a poor referee was inevitable. But once the smokescreen had cleared it was impossible to miss Parker's poor movement and distance control, which robbed him of a platform from which to fire bullets at the giant Joshua.

The disconnect between the promises and performance in recent times suggests one or two things: Parker isn't as good as he was cracked up to be, and/or his preparation is off the mark. There's a third possibility of course, a very serious one, that Parker is a poor trainer who can't enact a plan.

Barry has made it clear what Parker must produce against Whyte, and it's not just a win.

"He knows that this is our redemption fight," said Barry.

"We have to be entertaining...this time we need to see all the tools being on display."

Another Joseph Parker dud will test his link with trainer Kevin Barry. Photo / Photosport
Another Joseph Parker dud will test his link with trainer Kevin Barry. Photo / Photosport

Full marks to Barry for sticking it on the line, and Parker has reached a crisis point where he must become a better boxer — to put it most simply — if he wants to win world titles.

Parker is like one of the Barry family at their home in Las Vegas but that doesn't mean the relationship will or should endure if it is failing so badly to produce results. Disentangling such a close relationship could be tricky of course.

Advertisement

It doesn't stop with the training regime. Manager/promoter David Higgins' pre-fight antics may well have played a part in the confused Parker performance against Joshua.

Parker promised he would "go to dark places" yet he didn't get close to turning out a light as Joshua jumped ahead and controlled the fight.

Who knows how a man will react deep in enemy territory, when faced with the prospect he might be decked in front of millions of people, particularly having promised the world so much more? It's not something most of us could hope to contemplate.

But the vaudevillian palava, including the taunts that Joshua had a weak chin, reflected Higgins management style more than Parker's natural personality in the eyes of most.

When Parker needed to find the fires within during the Cardiff showdown, he barely struck a match.

While Whyte's claim that Parker was "cowardly" against Joshua might take the matter a little too far in the light of history, he wasn't completely crazy either.

Far, far greater fighters than Parker - scary Sonny Liston and the legendary Roberto Duran - present real and famous cases of men throwing in the towel rather than meeting what most would have picked was a lesser fate. Parker didn't sit on his stool, or turn his back.

But you do wonder if there was a degree of humiliation in Parker's failure to be credible when he had promised incredible, and what effect that will have. Whyte wasn't completely off the mark.

Time for major changes, a roll of the dice? Sunday might bring some answers.

Joshua, the hardly disputed champ, hired a new head trainer two years ago. It's not necessarily a blame game. Like football and many other sports, some combinations work and some don't regardless of whether the people get on or not.

I actually wonder if the closeness between Parker and Barry might be a problem in itself. If it ain't working it ain't working, whatever the reasons.

Parker could play another card by getting out of Las Vegas.