By: Eric Lunger
On May 6th in Manukau City, New Zealand, charismatic WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (23-0, 18 KOs) made his first successful title defense, decisively out boxing Romanian Razvan Cojanu (16-3, 9 KOs) over twelve rounds. Despite a technically proficient and disciplined performance by Parker, the local media were disappointed, having hoped for a KO victory for their home town fighter. In addition to being 6’ 8” and good boxer, Cojanu was a sparring partner in Parker’s camp and a late-minute replacement for an injured Hughie Fury, the original opponent. He was, therefore, intimately familiar with Parker’s style.
Photo Credit: http://photosport.co.nz/
Boxinginsider.com spoke with Parker’s long time trainer and former Olympian Kevin Barry last week, and Kevin had this to say on the media’s reaction to the fight: “The New Zealand media really were a bit in awe of Anthony Joshua’s performance against Klitschko, and they were thinking: ‘Right, Joe is going in against a last minute replacement.’ But what they didn’t realize is that the most dangerous sort of opponent is the one you bring in the last moment. There are many examples of this sort over the years.”
In addition, Cojanu went more than one hundred rounds with Parker, and sparring partners are invited to become part of the camp. “The days that we are not sparring,” Barry pointed out, “they are training along side Joe, watching what I am doing with Joe, the combinations we are working on, and so on. So, for me this was a very dangerous fight; Razvan Cojanu know more about Joe’s style than any opponent he had faced.”
But with a successful defense under their belt, the team is looking forward to fighting Hughie Fury (20-0, 10 KOs) on September 23 in Manchester, England. While Barry has a good deal of respect for the challenger, he is confident in his fighter: “I don’t think Hughie can match Joe with strength. He’s got decent skills, a world amateur underage champion, and he’s undefeated. He comes out of a very good boxing family, and he’s well coached. I have no doubt that on September 23 we will get the best Hughie Fury there is.”
Barry understands what is at stake at this level: “This is a big fight for a young guy. It takes a lot of courage to be in this position. This is Hughie’s first time in the major spotlight, and there is huge pressure and expectations on him. They’ve got the hometown advantage, but with that comes huge pressure and expectations from friends, family, his fan base.”
The Parker team knows that this opportunity to make a statement in the UK is the crucial next step in Parker’s career. Barry said: “I will be imploring Joe to let his hands go, this fight in the UK is something we have waited for for a long time. Eighteen months ago, when Joseph was the number one mandatory contender with the IBF, we thought we’d being going there to fight Joshua, and at once stage we were, until we both took a different path. But we are there now, and I don’t want this to be a twelve round fight. Joseph Parker is going to really let his hand go in this one, there is no doubt in my mind.”