News April 2017

The Champ Is Here. Joshua Arrives.


By @John_Evans79

The world should know when the champ is fighting.

People in pubs and barber shops should tell tall tales and make wild predictions. Kids should wrap their mothers’ tea towels around their fists and play out the fight. People who know nothing about the sport should write high horse articles about its barbaric nature. Eventually, the eyes of the world should focus on a square of canvas. It should be a happening.

On Saturday night, Wembley Stadium played host to a happening.

The novelty of being at a fight in such a huge stadium never really wears off. As much as the boxing fan in you wants to pay attention to the intricacies of the undercard, your eyes inevitably wander. The size and scale of the event never quite seem real. There is always something new to look at or unusual to notice.

But at 10pm nothing else mattered. As the lights dimmed and Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko stood alone in their respective corners even the most ardent selfie hunters put away their phones. Those who had underestimated just how cold London can be in April forgot about their decision to leave a jacket at home. Regardless of their vantage point, everybody seemed to stare intently at the ring rather than the huge screens relaying the action to the rafters. And then the bell rang.

The fight was more thriller than action flick. Explosive sequences erupted in between moments of high tension. Both men picked themselves up from the depths of despair and both stood on the edge of momentous victories. It was as exciting a heavyweight title fight as we have seen in 15 years. Eventually, it was 27 year old Joshua who unified the heavyweight division with a stirring eleventh round technical knockout.

We didn’t see the untouchable Joshua who has laid waste to the heavyweight division’s wannabes. The quality of the man in front of him magnified his flaws. The problems he encountered with range against the statuesque Dominic Breazeale were amplified. He was falling inches short at times. The stamina issues he experienced against Dillian Whyte resurfaced after the fifth round barrage that saw him drop Klitschko for the first time and he was shaken on more than one occasion.

Every boxer has imperfections but the aim is for them to evolve into the most well rounded fighter they can be. Joshua’s high points and strengths have been eulogised over endlessly, but on Saturday night he showed that he has the heart, the mental toughness and the fight ending power to smooth out the blemishes. Joshua’s faults may have been brought to bear but he was able to call on hereto unseen qualities. He is developing into quite some package.

The sharp intake of breath which met Joshua’s first public trip to the canvas nearly sucked the air out of the vast stadium and Joshua spent the next ten minutes desperately searching for every available molecule of oxygen.

“It’s just a fight” is one of Joshua’s favourite sayings. Forget the money, the adulation and the title belts on offer last night, between rounds six and eight Joshua was fighting for his entire future. Amidst the tumult surrounding him, he managed to keep his nerve and - most importantly - his shape. Unlike many modern super heavyweights who lose all tension in their knees and necks when exhausted, Joshua held himself together. He was able to retain enough menace to prevent Klitschko from piling in unabated.

The time he spent desperately battling to regain any kind of foothold in the fight was the most significant of Joshua’s entire career.

Of course Klitschko isn’t the fighter he was five years ago but he was still in a different league to anybody Joshua had faced previously and one of the top three heavyweights in the world.

The Ukrainian has been fighting in stadiums for years but despite his longevity and ability, his procession of title defences never grabbed the attention of a public obsessed with instant gratification. With entertainment available at the click of a button or the swipe of a thumb, Klitschko’s methodical rule alienated fans.

Three early career stoppages altered Klitschko’s aggressive mindset and he became more psychiatrist than surgeon. The doctor who would only get his hands dirty when absolutely necessary.

As he looked up at the division’s most devastating finisher with half of the fifth round still left to negotiate, blood pouring into his left eye, Klitschko’s stake in the fight had gone. The doctor returned to his instincts and gambled, winging in left hooks and right hands. As Joshua pushed himself up from the canvas in that chaotic sixth, Klitschko had his chips back. The house edge had gone. With a further role of the dice, Klitschko could have taken the house. Instead, the steel hammer went back in the tool belt and he began to analyse the data. Klitschko will rue that decision - involuntary though it may have been - forever and the tantalising thought of what could (should?) have been will probably drive him into exercising a rematch clause.

Klitschko fought as well as he possibly could at this stage of his career and earned more respect in a single shootout than he has accumulated over years of dominance. Sad but true.

“I’m not perfect, but I’m trying,” said Joshua after the fight. Just how perfect he will have to be to deal with he likes of Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, Luis Ortiz and Kubrat Pulev remains to be seen but given his attitude towards the sport, it seems likely that we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

Until Tyson Fury returns to action Joshua stands as the leading heavyweight in the world and although his only 19 fights into his career, he seems certain to become the face of the sport.

From now on, the world will know when the champ is fighting.

Joshua v Klitschko early results


By @John_Evans79

Joe Cordina kickstarted the evening's action at Wembley Stadium by stopping Sergej Vib in less than a round.  The young Welshman recorded his second professional victory in a week.

With the novelty of the spectacular setting still new, Cordina kept his focus amidst scores of selfie hunting fans and dropped the terrified looking Russian within the opening seconds. A feat he repeated a minute later.

Things couldn't have been more straightforward for the 25 year old super featherweight.

Katie Taylor (6-0, 3 KO's) moved closer to a world title fight by comprehensively outboxing the previously unbeaten Nina Meinke. The fight was stopped early in the seventh round.

In her first ten round contest, 30 year old Taylor had more time to work and Meinke (5-1, 2 KO's) struggled to live with the Irish girl's ability. The German is nicknamed 'The Brave' but also showed some decent movement before wilting under the pressure Taylor applied.

Competing on a stage she can barely have ever imagined and with a lightweight world title chance in the offing, Taylor took full advantage of the opportunity.

The problem remains the same. Nobody can be entirely sure how good Taylor is as she laps the field. Until a rival emerges from the pack, fans will need to be content with one sided exhibitions.

Luke Campbell got past Darleys Perez in their WBA lightweight title eliminator although the nature of the victory still leaves some questions unanswered.

Perez winced and simply surrendered, clutching his left arm and walking away halfway through the ninth round. 

Perez - who missed weight by 1 1/4lbs - is a known commodity on these shores due to his two world title battles with Anthony Crolla.

Opinion was split on whether we would see the Perez that Crolla was able to bully and do with a body shot or the gritty determined fighter who battled to a draw in their first meeting. The answer was something of a hybrid. In the ring, Perez certainly seemed to arrive with ambition but soon began to struggle with Campbell's rangy southpaw style.

As is his way, 29 year old Campbell (17-1, 14 KO's) cautiously and carefully boxed his way through the opening rounds, gauging just what Perez (33-3-2, 21 KO's) had to offer. The pair fenced and traded jabs early on before Campbell slowly but surely turned the screw.

This was the biggest victory of Campbell's career and moves him closer to a shot at the WBA title currently held by Jorge Linares.

Scott Quigg made a shaky first appearance under the guidance of Freddie Roach as he Viorel Simion.

The former WBA super bantamweight champion looked strong and aggressive but Simion met fire with fire, attempting to answer Quigg's efforts with impressive combinations of his own. A left hook from the Romanian was the best shot of an active first round.

Quigg (33-1-2, 24 KO's) was forced to absorb plenty more punishment as the fight wore on. Simion (21-2, 9 KO's) finding plenty of gaps as the man from Bury chose to plant his feet and bang.

The fight became a brutal gruelling battle when, with a solid jab and a little bit of footwork, it didn't need to be.

After 12 rounds the scorecards read 117-111, 117-111 and 115-113.

The Chaos Theory in action at the Echo Arena


By @John_Evans79

It was fitting that a fighter nicknamed ‘Chaos’ played a part in saving Saturday night’s show at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

Chaos is about the unpredictable and the unexpected. Chaos is generally more interesting and exciting than order and normality.

Tom ‘Chaos’ Carus gave everything in his ten round battle with former gym mate Tom Farrell, dragging the best out of ‘Fazza’ and forcing him to compliment his skill with some steel. Small hall regulars will know all about Carus but those watching the lanky scouser for the first time must have been pleasantly surprised by his efforts. Farrell rose to the occasion and proved himself to be a cut above his former gym mate after ten hard fought rounds.

Much earlier in the evening a couple of hundred fans witnessed Henry Janes and Steve Brogan battle to their second hard fought draw within the space of a month. The vast majority of those who saw the first fight felt Brogan was unlucky to suffer the first blemish on his record. Logic suggested that the unbeaten lightweight would correct matters at the second time of asking. Not so. Janes dug in a produced a tremendous effort. This time, it was he who can feel aggrieved at the result.

Ryan Mulcahy's decision to skip four round learning fights with Hungarians and jump straight up to area title level was reward when he produced the best performance of the night - and of his own career - to outpoint Midlands Area super lightweight champion Andy Keates over six excellent rounds. Insiders know that Mulcahy is good but some questioned whether he was ready for such a big step up in class and not many expected him to produce such an impressive performance.

Few fighters want success as badly as Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd. The Birkenhead lightweight managed to turn the tide of his fight with the accomplished Lee Appleyard. Dodd gets written off as a trier but the former footballer showed his ever improving boxing brain to think his way through the fight. Dodd will never be technically perfect but he has worked out a way to make his awkwardness work for him. He is now the Commonwealth and WBC International lightweight champion. A fantastic achievement for the former footballer.

And as far as excitement goes, that was that. As Dodd exited, so did his army of fans. Rocky Fielding and John Ryder battled through twelve drab rounds and Martin Murray persuaded Gabriel Rosado to accept a truce rather than declare a war but it felt like the whole evening needed an injection of chaos.

The talented Joe Cordina made a solid professional debut in the now customary stage managed way. The super featherweight will be an excellent pro and impressed against Jose Aguilar, who was a flyweight just over a year ago.

An anodyne atmosphere fell over the arena within a couple of rounds of the vacant British super middleweight title fight between Rocky Fielding and John Ryder, although a feeling of anticlimax lingered over the entire night. Even Fielding’s decision to enter the ring to the more strained than ever strains of Sweet Caroline felt forced. Ryder forced himself through the first half of the fight before finally finding his rhythm as time ran out. Fielding probably did just enough to win.

Martin Murray gave the game away during fight week. “Everyone expects a war but my plan is it will only be a war when I want” he said. Murray knows his time in the sport is drawing to an end and has always chosen to preserve his body for the biggest fights. It would have been a major surprise had Murray gone against type and engaged Rosado in a brutal war with no real reward on the table. Wisely - and predictably - Murray chose to box throughout the middleweight twelve rounder.

Rosado gave his usual whole hearted display but never totally committed himself and I felt he came up short by a couple of rounds. Some seated around me scored the fight a draw, others thought the Philadelphian may have just pinched the fight. Nobody would have raised too much of an argument either way until that utterly ridiculous 119-109 card in Murray’s favour was announced. Murray will likely get one final big opportunity before he leaves the sport behind. Rest assured, he will give it his all.

Sky’s dominance of the British boxing market is being challenged by the new BT-BoxNation partnership. Queensbury Promotions obviously have a eye on the future. Tying up the likes of Lyon Woodstock, Anthony Yarde, Zelfa Barrett, Daniel Dubois and Jordan Thompson is a clear indication of the path they are planning on walking. All have ability but all carry themselves in a certain manner and fight in with a certain style. The future holds some exciting nights for the new breed and there is a feeling of rawness and excitement watching them take their first steps in the sport.

Maybe it’s a conscious decision, maybe it isn’t but by adding Jamie Cox, Anthony Fowler and Lawrence Okolie to their ranks, Matchroom can now flesh out cards like this with some much needed explosiveness and, well, chaos.

Cox is wild, unpredictable, heavy handed and the dark horse of a talented crop of super middleweights. Sooner rather than later, the imposing Okolie will be a serious problem for the country’s cruiserweights and whether you love him or hate him, Fowler will bring aggressiveness and an abrasive personality to the light middleweight division.

“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.” an American historian called Henry Adams once said. How right he was.

Wembley to host Joshua - Klitschko workout and weigh in


Anthony Joshua MBE and Wladimir Klitschko will perform public work-outs at Wembley Arena on Tuesday evening to kick-off fight week ahead of their blockbuster clash for the IBF, WBA and IBO World Heavyweight titles at Wembley Stadium Connected by EE in London on Saturday April 29, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

UK fight fans can watch IBF king Joshua and former World ruler Klitschko go through their training routines ahead of their battle at the national stadium as well as fighters on the bumper undercard.

Three Team GB Rio Olympians kick-off the work out from 6pm as Lawrence Okolie, Joe Cordina and Josh Kelly land on the biggest stage early in the pro careers, while Irish Olympic gold medal hero Katie Taylor is gunning for her first pro title when she faces Nina Meinke in an eliminator for the WBA World Lightweight crown with the Inter-Continental strap on the line.

Luke Campbell MBE is the fourth Olympic gold medallist on the bill and he faces his toughest night in the paid ranks to date when he meets former World champion Darleys Perez in an eliminator for the number one spot in the WBA at Lightweight, while Scott Quigg fights under new trainer Freddie Roach for the first time against Viorel Simion in an eliminator for the IBF Featherweight crown.

Media-only press conferences for the undercard and main event on Thursday follow the work out before Wembley Arena takes centre stage again as the host of the weight from 1pm, with doors open at midday.



Jamie Cox has signed a promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing.

The Commonwealth Games winner and former Commonwealth Light-Middleweight champion is gunning for major titles and the 30 year old penned the deal in Liverpool at the Echo Arena where he’s a keen ringside observer tonight.

The unbeaten Swindon banger is mandatory challenger for the winner of the clash between Rocky Fielding and John Ryder for the vacant British Super-Middleweight title, and Cox is relishing a clash with the winner as he begins a new chapter in his career.

“I’m excited to be working with Eddie Hearn and boxing on Sky Sports,” said Cox. “It’s a massive platform for me to showcase my skills. Eddie is putting the biggest shows on, especially at Wembley next week, and I want to be part of these huge nights.

“I’ll be boxing in the Super-Middleweight division, I feel strong, fit and explosive at that weight – I’m ready to rip my way through the 168lbers out there. I want to fight a big profile name ASAP, so the public can see what I’m all about. We will then push towards that World title shot in the next year to 18 months.

“I love training. We work under the butchers shop and I go up to the lab with Des Witter in Birmingham, I’m sure that if I play my part right and work hard, I will fulfil my potential with Eddie and Matchroom.

“I’ve been made mandatory to fight the winner of the British Super-Middleweight title fight between John Ryder and Rocky Fielding. I will fight anyone and of course that would be an honour to win that belt. I just can’t wait to get going and get back in the ring doing what I do best!”

“I'm delighted to welcome Jamie to the team and I'm very excited about his future,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Jamie is one of the hardest hitting 168-pounders in World boxing and is ready to go in all the big fights.

“He is mandatory for the winner of Fielding vs. Ryder tonight but we are also looking at some major names moving forward. He is brilliant to watch and Sky Sports fans are going to enjoy following his journey over the coming years.”

Matty Askin Sends Chilling message to Kennedy ahead of Brit title Clash


By Michael J Jones

BLACKPOOL’S MATTY Askin has revealed he is ready to take out all of his frustrations on Craig Kennedy when they meet on May 26th and has warned the undefeated Welshman; “You’re not in my class.” The two cruiserweight contenders collide in a sure-fire thriller to contest the vacant British title live on Channel Five and the 28 year old Askin has promised to brutally dispatch his Cardiff rival in front of his own supporters.

The two men were originally set to clash in March but the “Assassin” injured his hand in training. Kennedy was subsequently matched with tough Scot Stephen Simmons but that fell through also so the original match between Askin and Kennedy goes belatedly ahead at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff.

The 6’4” Askin only boxed twice last year but recorded two of the finest victories of his nine-year career. Last March he destroyed the touted Simon Barclay in just two rounds to defend his English belt before flooring and out-scoring Irish prospect Tommy McCarthy eight months later to pave the way for this British title chance.

Matty, currently 21-3-1 (13), is presently in Poland for top-class sparring with former two-time world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk but Livefight grabbed him for an interview just before he left. We found the Blackpool bruiser in his usual confident mood with a month to go until his title bout with Kennedy.

“It’s not been a good year so far but I’m on a good run of wins at the moment and I think I’ve proven to people that I’m the best at the weight in the UK” Matty tells Livefight. “I see Craig Kennedy as a guy who has been spoon-fed poor opponents all through his career and there’s a world of difference in our (respective) experience.”

“All through my career I’ve been in real fights with dangerous men, I’ve fought guys at British, European and world level so there’s going to be a huge gulf in class between us on the night.”

Cardiff’s Kennedy has done little wrong so far in his 16-0 (8) career and has claimed a few decent scalps such as Wadi Camacho and Courtney Fry. He is a fighter who is always in great shape and is guided by former WBO featherweight champion Steve Robinson.

None of the above appears to phase the in-form Askin though as he continues…

“I’m aware that he’s confident and is boxing at home so my plan will be just to get him out of there as soon as I can. He can be hurt and put over and I’m durable so when my right-hand lands he’ll go down and hopefully he’ll stay there (laughs).”

“I watched his IBF (InterContinental title) fight from last year (against awkward Belgian Joel Tambwe Djeko) and I don’t know how anybody could have scored that for Kennedy*. Kennedy was dropped twice but, as it was down there in Wales, they gave him a split decision.”

“I don’t intend to let that happen in our fight.”

*For the record, Livefight scored for Kennedy 95-94 in his bout vs Djeko last May. The Belgian was massive at the weight and didn’t lack for confidence or power though Kennedy was always busier down the stretch.

“We got Kennedy in for sparring a while ago and we couldn’t even get rounds out of him before he was pulling out” the Blackpool puncher continues. “We paid him for the sparring and he couldn’t ever finish a session, obviously he’ll probably be better than that but I also can’t see how he’ll deal with my power or my speed.”

Askin has shown notable improvement over the last few years thanks to his gruelling work with trainers Mike and Dave Jennings. The wild-swinging brawler from the beginning of his career has been replaced with a cuter, more patient and defensively adept version though the power is still evident as both of last year’s victims would attest.

“Against Simon Barclay, he was a former two time ABA heavyweight champion and they were bigging him up but when the fight started I knew he didn’t have any real power so I could take more risks and go for the early KO.”

“I knew I was a better fighter than Tommy McCarthy but I realise many doubted me before that fight and there were people who still questioned if I could win those kinds of fights. My team all knew what I was capable of and so did I.”

The British title eliminator against McCarthy, who was 9-0 coming in, started tentatively with both looking for openings. Askin shaded two of the first three (on my card) but exploded in the fourth when he sent his foe down heavily with a well-timed right.

A follow-up flurry sent the dazed Belfast fighter down again as the bell rang and it looked at that point the fight was as good as over yet McCarthy gamely made it through the full twelve rounds to lose by scores of 117-110 and 116-111 (twice).

“I actually injured my hand after I dropped him so couldn’t quite finish him off but I just boxed his head off afterwards.”

McCarthy had looked sensational in his previous bout when out-scoring former British and Commonwealth champion Jon Lewis Dickinson. The beaten Geordie, who held a win over Matty, announced his retirement following the one-sided loss.

In 25 pro fights, Askin has only suffered the said decision to Dickinson, lost a short-notice fight in Poland to future WBO champion Krzysztof Glowacki and, in his last bid for the British title, lost a close decision to then British and Commonwealth ruler Ovil McKenzie.

The latter fight two years ago was a disappointing contest, neither fighter appeared to settle into any rhythm as styles often clashed horribly. McKenzie eventually prevailed by a debatable majority decision.

“I think there were some factors that caught up with me that night” sighs the 6’4” puncher when recalling his failed challenge and last defeat. “I’d had a year out before the fight, I felt I won the first seven or eight rounds comfortably but my body just folded from the inactivity and losing those two points towards the end (for holding) did me.”

“I feel I would have won that fight if I’d have been more active before it and I feel Tommy McCarthy is one of the best I’ve faced to show where I am now in my career.”

I enquire what the cruiserweight contender’s plans may be should he prevail on May 26th in Cardiff?

“I’m focussed on Craig Kennedy of course but if all goes well I’d just like to get a British title defence as soon as I can with the view of going onto the world stage in the near future. I boxed Glowacki in Poland and, despite not being in the best of shape, I still did well and competed with him and I feel confident I can mix it with the best at my weight.”

Matty views himself as the premier cruiserweight in the UK but there is currently one name officially above him in the British ranks as the world waits to see what could be next for the Haye-slayer Tony Bellew.

“Tony Bellew is a very clever man and has a brilliant business brain and he’ll do whatever makes the most sense. He moved up and scored that victory over Haye at heavyweight and total respect for that. I do see myself one day as making the move (to heavyweight) but I also want to achieve everything I possibly can before then in the cruiserweight division.”

“Tony Bellew is 34, I’m only 28 so there’s ample time before I go and mix it with those big fellas.”

“I just want to thank my team, all of my supporters and also my sponsors; Ma Kellys Blackpool, The Gentlemans Lounge, Stephen Pye Tree Services, Churchside FP and A&P Autos, Blackpool. Everyone tune in on May 26th to see the best cruiserweight in Britain do his thing and become the British champion.”

The big fight is scheduled to be shown live on Channel Five on May 26th and it’s sure to provide a thrilling contest between two hungry and hard-punching rivals. Based on experience, quality of opposition and chin, Askin seems the favourite though Kennedy, in front of his home crowd, surely won’t be coming to make up the numbers…

WBO Champ Joseph Parker "Beating Hughie could Entice Tyson Revenge"


Joseph Parker talks to Livefight

By Michael J Jones

WINNING A WORLD title in boxing is tough but hanging onto that hard-earned belt is even tougher. On May 6th, WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker makes the first defence of his title against talented Englishman Hughie Fury in Auckland. Though most see Fury, the younger cousin of Tyson, as an underdog, team Parker are preparing hard and are respectful of the threat Fury could pose the new champion.

Since his pro début five years ago, Parker has impressed both in his activity of fighting regularly and also the way he has dealt with many potentially-dangerous foes. With hand-speed, power in each hand and a sharp jab, Parker at just 25-years-old is already one of the best heavyweights in the world.

Livefight spoke to Joseph Parker yesterday to discuss his bout with Hughie Fury and found the champion in a quietly-confident mood ahead of his first defence.

“Camp has been very good this time and we've had a good variety of sparring” the New Zealander tells Livefight from his base in Las Vegas. “I've watched a few of Hughie Fury's fights on YouTube and, although people will see my quality of opposition as superior to Fury's, this is still a dangerous fight and we're not taking it lightly.”

Now 22-0 (18), Parker was crowned the WBO champion last December after a tougher-than-expected points victory over Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr. The co-challenger provided a stern test, showing fast hands and a hectic work-rate that defied his rotund physical appearance.

“Looking back at that fight with Ruiz, it was a very tough match between two very hungry guys” reflects the champion five months on from the contest. “People underestimated him as he's a big guy but he brought speed and pressure that night. We had a few problems in that camp with things popping up so that let our preparation down a little bit but we always knew Andy would be a tough fight.”

The gifted Parker was a glittering amateur and didn't hang around when he turned over in 2012. In just his sixth fight he knocked out former world champion Frans Botha, in his very next contest he boxed for his first pro belt. By the following year he was taking on, and dispatching, fringe contenders such as Brian Minto and Sherman Williams before moving from prospect to contender while keeping a frenetic schedule.

The streaking heavyweight won all five fights by knock-out in 2015 and kept up the same level of activity last year. Before Ruiz, Parker saw off four victims including the feared Carlos Takam and hulking German Alexander Dimitrenko to show he meant business in the heavyweight division.

“It was always our intention to keep busy and fight often” the 25 year old comments on his heavyweight apprenticeship. “Now as champion we'll probably fight three times a year. Boxing all year through takes it out of your body as you're continuously training and the body doesn't get a break.”

“I'm hoping to get three meaningful fights a year now but I'm not looking past Hughie Fury.”

The 6'6” former amateur stand-out Fury is currently 20-0 (10) and exploded onto the heavyweight scene just as Parker had until a rare skin condition scuppered his progress in the last two years. Indeed the 22 year old boxed just twice last year, out-pointing aged veteran Dominick Guinn before winning an unconvincing technical decision against the rugged Fred Kassi a month later. He will be taking on Parker off the back of almost a year's inactivity but has been talking a good fight in the build-up.

“From what I've seen of him he's a tall and rangy guy and I've been able to see his style and what he does well. He's in much the same position Tyson Fury was before did the unthinkable and beat Wladimir Klitschko so his team has done this before and will be very confident of doing so again.”

“He's got height and reach on me so I've got to apply pressure and mix up my attacks. We don't know what his tactics will be but we've got our game-plan so we'll see if he does what he usually does or brings something different on the night.”

“It will be important to mix up my attacks; it's got to be body-head, body-head constantly changing my attack.”

Although the WBO ruler is adamant he is not looking past his next challenger, “Gentleman Joe” realises that a win over the younger Fury could entice Tyson Fury to a potential match and revenge mission.

“I'm fighting Hughie and if I beat him I think Tyson would want to come back and try and get revenge. He'd want to also try and regain his old title and I'd welcome that fight. I've got huge respect for Tyson Fury as he beat the long-reigning, dominant heavyweight champion and started bringing some excitement back to the division.”

After several years of the big men being dictated by the iron fists of the Klitschko brothers, the heavyweights appear to be finally coming back to life with three young, undefeated champions (Parker, Joshua and Wilder), plus Tyson Fury embarking on a comeback and some decent prospects coming through the ranks.

“It's great to be a part of the division now, it's so much more intriguing than two or three years ago. I'm a champion now but there's still a lot of hard work to do and I've much to learn. I look forward to the next few years and featuring in the big fights the division is promising.”

One rival team Parker are interested in facing soon is WBC champion Deontay Wilder. The two men met recently after Wilder stopped late-sub Gerald Washington in Birmingham, Alabama to discuss a potential unification bout between the two champs.

“We were there to support (stable-mate) Izvagbe Ugonah, unfortunately we didn't get the win (Ugonah was stopped in a thriller by former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale). We had a good talk and both teams are very keen to make the fight. They see where we are coming from in wanting to make the important fights and it could happen after this next one.”

“Fights like this are all about sitting down and putting it together where everyone is happy but the signs are good we can do the deal. I've seen him close up now and that was good to see his strengths from ringside.”

Parker's coach Kevin Barry indicated to Livefight recently that training for the new champion has been stepped up since his world title victory and the team have been working on new things ahead of the Auckland defence.

Joseph remains coy when asked to divulge what he's been working on...

“We've made a few changes and we've already felt the benefits to myself and it's helped in the completion to my camp. I've full faith in all my coaches and I trust them totally and what we've been working on and look forward to showing it against Hughie Fury.”

“I just want to thank my team and all of my supporters especially my fans in New Zealand. After this I want to take on the best fights in the world.”

Livefight would like to thank both coach Kevin Barry and Joseph Parker for talking to us just two weeks before the fight with Hughie Fury.

Parker Trainer Kevin Barry talks Hughie Fury Defence, Ruiz decision & Parker future


Exclusive Interview

By Michael J Jones

Kevin with Joseph after Ruiz win

NEXT MONTH IN Auckland, WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker makes the first defence of his recently-acquired title against 20-0 British prospect Hughie Fury. The May 6th world title clash is a battle between young and unbeaten fighters who are both fast-approaching their respective primes.

The impressively-built Parker, 6'4 and some 245lbs, has impressed so far in his 22-0 (18) career and has already claimed some noteworthy scalps in style but didn't appear at his best last time out in winning the WBO belt with a majority decision over the previously-undefeated Andy Ruiz Jr.

Despite looking less then chiselled physically, co-challenger Ruiz Jr gave Parker all he could handle and many thought he might have even edged a close fight. At the end of twelve rounds however, two of the judges scored to Parker by two points making him a world heavyweight champion (third scored a draw).

While many believe the opportunity has come a shade too soon for the 22 year old Fury, Parker's trainer Kevin Barry is under no illusion of the threat proposed in his fighter's first defence.

“If we look at Hughie Fury, there's clearly many similarities to him and Joseph Parker” Kevin tells Livefight this week. “Hughie is young, has good skills and was a really great amateur. He's considered a prospect but really, Joseph was in that same position before he fought Andy Ruiz Jr so if you wind the clock back Fury is pretty much where Joseph was before his last fight.”

“Some have said (it may be too early for Fury), but I told Joe straight away that Fury has range, a unique set of skills and has plenty of moves plus awkwardness and this could be, stylistically, Joe's most difficult fight to date. We have great respect for Hughie and (his trainer and Father) Peter and know this will be a real test.”

Livefight raises the subject of Parker's last contest; often referred to as controversial. Mr Barry doesn't shy away from talking about the fight and openly admits his man wasn't at his best that night last December.

“This camp we're having now has been enjoyable and we're all feeling comfortable and positive ahead of the fight. Last time, it was probably the worst camp we've had and nobody wants to say that going into the most important fight of their career. The fight with Ruiz was put together in a hurry, camp didn't go the way we wanted and also Joe had some personal stuff going on.”

“Thank God we're back on track this time.”

As mentioned, Andy Ruiz Jr is no body beautiful but is clearly a fighter who is far better than his physical appearance suggests. Against Parker he displayed good movement for his size as well as a surprisingly-good work-rate for a 255lb (usually much higher) fighter. The New Zealander seemed to struggle with his distance and timing early on against a man who fought arguably the fight of his career.

“Andy Ruiz Jr was a man I knew well, I nearly became his trainer before I started working with Joe” reveals the Vegas-based trainer. “He came over to Auckland 29-0 and he's a very good fighter, fast hands and an incredible chin so I knew it was always going to be a difficult night for us. Andy doesn't help himself with his fluctuating weight and inactivity but there's no doubting his talent.”

“We had three judges from three different countries and I thought referee Tony Weeks did a great job in the fight. After eight rounds all three judges had Joe down by two points. So with the last quarter ahead of us we knew we had to finish strongly and dig deep. We took it one round at a time and Joe showed he was a real champion and showed a lot of heart.”

“I wasn't totally sure about the decision (before it was officially announced) but I felt Joe won those last four rounds and had done enough. Honestly, if it would have been called a draw we would have accepted it.”

“Joe wasn't at his best and we know that but it's a fight which could happen again at some stage.”

Has the former 1984 Olympic Silver medallist seen any notable change in his boxer since he became champion five months ago?

“If you look at many fighters who become champion, they usually get ten percent better for becoming champion and Joe is no different and I've already seen big changes in him. We got to the belt pretty quick (Parker turned pro less than five years ago) and Joe's confidence, mental approach and the way he conducts himself has changed and he loves being in the position of being a world champion.”

Parker takes the WBO belt

“We had an aggressive approach to Joe's development, we matched him tough and kept him very busy. People said we'd burn him out and we weren't doing things the right way but we showed our way worked as Joe became the WBO heavyweight champion of the world. Joe has been living here in Las Vegas with me for four years now so he's been spending eight months of every year here and the last three years he's boxed five times a year.”

“Joseph Parker is nowhere near the finished product. He's just 25-years-old and him and Hughie Fury are going to be around for years. Joe's a young man who has grown up in the pro heavyweight ranks and physically, mentally and spiritually, is improving fight by fight.”

“In another two years he's going to be a menacing, mean heavyweight who will be very hard to beat.”

Going back to the May 6th challenger Fury, the 6'6” Hughie has recently commentated on his rare skin condition which he has said badly hampered his recent performances. The ache-like condition left him almost quitting the ring as he was left lethargic and drained not only in fights but in the camps ahead of contests. The heavyweight has also said he believes he will be a sixty percent better fighter for Parker now his medical troubles are under control.

Does Kevin believe this was a genuine medical condition or has it been exaggerated as part of the famous Fury pre-fight mental chess-match?

“The Fury camp are very good at their mental games but we also take ours seriously and make a conscience effort to be confident and positive at all times. Boxing isn't just physical and our view is we are training and preparing for the best ever Hughie Fury. Peter Fury has done this before and deserves a huge amount of respect for that as he's defied the odds previously with Tyson and will be looking to do the same and take Joe's title from him.”

While most fight fans view Hughie as a solid prospect the man who is always prominent during heavyweight discussions is Linear ruler Tyson Fury. Disappointingly, the out-spoken Brit (Hughie's cousin) has been inactive since his career-best unanimous decision over Wladimir Klitschko some eighteen months ago. Despite several outside-the-ring problems and inactivity, the former champion is now in training for his comeback and is expected to make his belated ring return later this year.

Is that a fight the WBO champion would welcome in the future?

“Our rule is we don't look past any fight” reasons Barry wisely. “We install that in every camp to focus on the fight in hand and not what comes after...but it's blatantly obvious the winner of the fight between Joe and Hughie will have a lot of options.”

“You've got the winner of Anthony Joshua vs Klitchko, we've had Tony Bellew calling us out, we had a talk to WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Alabama after his last fight and we don't know what Tyson Fury is going to do but if he does come back we would love that fight.”

“Joseph Parker is fearless and will fight anyone, he's a student of the game and ambitious. When we fought Carlos Takam (a points win in May last year), I had already turned down that fight twice for Joe. Takam is one of the most avoided fighters out there and Joshua could have fought him but dodged him. Takam was beating Povetkin until he got caught late on but when we made the fight Joe was just like 'oh great I've wanted this fight for ages' there's no fear at all there.”

Opposition: Hughie and dad Peter

“Like I said we are not looking past Fury but Joe isn't just going to sit on the title he wants big fights, unification matches and whatever we can get. Joseph Parker knows the best fights bring the best out in him and he can't wait to get those kinds of fights.”

“Joe is the WBO champion and he has to become the champion of working out all the styles now and our job on May 6th is to make Hughie Fury as uncomfortable as possible. He likes to fight in a relaxed style and we have to make sure he doesn't get that. We'll be hitting him everywhere at any target available.”

“Since the Ruiz fight we've been working on a lot of different things and we can't wait to show people in this next fight.”

In the last few days, Cyclone Cook, one of the worst storms to ever hit New Zealand, has raged on causing multiple damage and chaos to homes, roads and airports but luckily team Parker flew out to Vegas to miss the carnage.

“I said camp had been superb but what luck missing the worst storm in NZ in decades.”

A storm is also brewing for May 6th at the Vector Arena, Auckland as two young talented fighters square off in a fascinating twelve round contest for the WBO heavyweight title.

Many thanks to Mr Kevin Barry for speaking to Livefight from Las Vegas. Interview with WBO champion Joseph Parker to follow shortly...

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