Barry Talks Joseph Parker’s Hunt for History
In a sport where many boxers are brought along slowly, Australian heavyweight Joseph Parker is on the fast-track to the top. At only 24 years old, Parker will contest for his first world title on Saturday against formidable opponent Andy Ruiz.
In an exclusive interview with FightSports, Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry discussed Parker’s maturation and his changes in preparation ahead of the WBO championship.
"The biggest difference in the training camp is the intensity and clarity of Joe as an individual," Parker said. "We have a winning formula, we haven’t changed that a lot. What has changed is Joe’s realization that he has been given a special privilege where he can put his name down in the history books in New Zealand."
History is indeed up for grabs for Parker (21-0). If he captures the vacant WBO belt, he will be New Zealand’s first heavyweight champion.
Despite the awards and accolades awaiting Parker, Barry warns against overlooking the Kiwi’s next opponent. Mexican-American Andy Ruiz (29-0) carries the kind of record, both professionally and on an amateur level, that has earned Barry’s respect. If Parker is to be successful in his bid for history, he will need to draw from himself a performance of a caliber the world has yet to witness.
"He has much better skills than he’s being credited with," Barry said of Ruiz. "You don’t stack up numbers like that unless you have a high degree of skill.
"I will need Joseph Parker to produce a performance that I know he’s capable of because we’ve seen it in the gym, but one we’ve yet to see on fight day."
Anytime a young fighter makes the step to the big stage, in their hometown no less, issues of pressure and distractions can arise. But Parker is a unique young man, wise beyond his years, prepared for whatever the boxing game throws at him. Barry believes that for all of Parker’s skills in the ring, one of his greatest attributes is the unshakable calm of his mind.
"We’ve been very diligent to manage all the distractions. One of the major strengths of Joseph Parker is the way he controls his emotions."
If Parker defeats Ruiz, he will not only be a champion but also will be on the brink of global stardom. Top Rank’s Bob Arum has already cut a deal with Parker’s promotor Duco Events to broaden the Kiwi’s reach internationally. Superfights against the likes of Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko lay on the horizon.
Barry has been a firsthand witness of Parker’s maturation, and knows the young man better than most. He knows that Parker has all the intangibles necessary to transcend the ring.
"Everyone likes him over here in New Zealand. The whole country is behind him. The girls like him a lot. He’s like a model figure, he dresses up in suits, he looks the part…I’ve watched him grow up over the last few years. If we get the championship on Saturday, the world will be his oyster. We have someone that can be a superstar."