Shawndell Winters, Joseph Parker's opponent and a man who describes himself as coming from the wrong side of the tracks in Chicago, says the New Zealand heavyweight doesn't qualify as his toughest challenge.

The pair will meet in the ring at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Dallas, on Sunday, and the 39-year-old said his tough upbringing and life struggles had prepared him well. Winters fought about 50 times as an amateur but didn't turn professional until his late 20s. Since then he has fought 13 times for 11 victories. Former world champion Parker is expected to win well.

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"He's a good fighter," Winters said of Parker. "He's pretty durable. He's fought at the world class level for a bit so that says a lot about him. We've got to see who he is on Saturday night.


"This fight is relative to life for me. I've fought tougher opponents just in everyday life.

"I came up on the backside of the desert, if you will. No one gave me anything, that's why I'm appreciative of this opportunity."

The American is clearly a man of relatively few words, but he has a couple of good wins on his record against previously undefeated opponents he wasn't expected to beat and obviously hopes for a similar upset here in Texas. He also has the respect of Parker, against whom he stared down after today's press conference.

Joseph Parker and Shawndell Winters face off ahead of their fight. Photo / Ed Mulholland
Joseph Parker and Shawndell Winters face off ahead of their fight. Photo / Ed Mulholland

"I didn't come here to be a fan of Joseph Parker," Winters said during the conference. "It's actually really nice to meet him; that's a joke."

"He's confident," Parker said afterwards. "He's not here to just have a fight and get a paycheck. He's not that big but Evander Holyfield wasn't that big either."

Parker's reference to the former world heavyweight champion is significant because Winters is also a former cruiserweight.

"My first sport was football and I played college basketball," Winters said. "Boxing is the ultimate competitive sport. I used to get mad playing basketball if another player wasn't playing as hard as me. When I got into boxing it was perfect; there's no one to blame but you."

Parker will have a height and weight advantage over Winters, but the American's coach, Montell Griffin, said of his man's greatest attribute: "Believe it or not, his power - his power and his confidence. He might be a small heavyweight but he don't punch like a small heavyweight."


Winters, in Frisco with his two daughters, is preparing to welcome his five sons who will also be supporting him for what is easily the biggest boxing fight of his life.

His last fight was in November against previously unbeaten Polish prospect Sergiej Werwejko. Parker's last fight was in June – a stoppage victory against Alex Leapai.

"I don't necessarily base my confidence on that because every opponent is different," Winters said of his last win, a meritorious one. "You face things in life. I've gone into hostile territory, other people's backyards, and have taken a win out of the jaws of defeat. That's something I'm proud of. I work extremely hard. I've dedicated myself.

"In this sport, if history as taught us anything, it's that anybody can be hit and anybody can be hurt and anybody can be beat.

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"I plan on making it cool for guys to take fights they aren't supposed to win. Back in the day it was about the best fighting the best. It wasn't about being protected … you just get in there and put your best against another man's best, and you live with the results."

Asked whether he had a message for Parker, he replied: "I don't really have a message for him. I just plan to get busy."


Joseph Parker's fight on Sunday against Shawndell Winters on the undercard of the Jesse Vargas v Mikey Garcia's welterweight world title fight will be broadcast live by Sky Arena. Parker's fight is expected to start at 2pm.

Patrick McKendry travelled to Dallas with assistance from Duco Events.