By Liam Napier
It's the classic case of brawler meets boxer. For the first time in his undefeated eight-fight pro career, Joseph Parker now needs to assume the latter role.
Parker's raw power is obvious. He is yet, though, to show the discipline and focus needed to subdue Brian Minto's experience and in-your-face aggression. His brain must now match his brawn.
On July 5 in Manukau, Minto and Parker square off in what shapes as a genuine contrast of styles.
Minto, the American ranked 12th by the WBO, is a pressure fighter - at his best brawling on the inside. And, while Parker has seven knockouts, this fight will challenge him mentally more than ever before.
''There can be no lapses in concentration like in the sixth round with [Brazilian Marcelo] Nascimento, where Joe drifted away,'' Parker trainer Kevin Barry said.
''There can be no going toe-to-toe like he did against King Afa [Tatupu]. That fight strategy will play right into Minto's hands and be disastrous for us.
''Brian's looking to provide for himself and his family. Up against an undefeated kid like Joseph Parker, that equates to a lot of money for Brian Minto. That makes him very hungry.''
In many ways Parker will attempt to mirror world champion Wladimir Klitschko's exemplarily demolition of Alex Leapai.
Against the stocky but diminutive Minto, size will be the South Auckland contender's greatest asset.
Parker needs to act like a big man. His fight plan will be simple - jab, move, maintain distance with his height and reach advantage and pick the right moments to unload.
''Klitschko put on a really clinical performance,'' Parker noted.
''That's pretty much what I have to do - follow the same plan he did. I'll take some of what I saw over in Germany and take that into our fight.
''I've got size and weight on Brian. Going into this fight I'm confident I'll win but I've got to do the work. I'll let my fists do the talking.''
With both respective fight plans already tabled, this match-up will be decided by execution. Minto backs his experience and takes heart from the fact he's seen Parker rattled by lesser opponents.
''Mentally can he maintain that,'' he questions Parker's tactics to stay on the outside and counter his relentless pressure for 10 rounds.
''I've seen him get over anxious. That's where I need to capitalise.
''I can't box a guy that outsizes me. I think my ability inside is way better than what he's got. I make myself into a ball and I roll my shoulders to get different angles.''
The three weeks Barry spent alongside Minto in the lead-up to his TKO win over Shane Cameron should give Parker valuable insights. There were some notably awkward moments yesterday when Barry and Minto reunited. And the tension was palpable when Barry raised the subject of Minto being a dirty fighter.
''Brian is a very good fighter but he's also very good at using his head, his elbows and other parts of his body,'' Barry said.
''With the recent cut problems we've had I'm really concerned about that.''
In closing, Minto fired back by questioning the merits of Parker's swift promotion.
''They can't get their head around the fact I beat Cameron,'' he said.
''Dean [Lonergan] and David [Higgins] are ignorant to the sport. Like Monty Barrett said, they are dumb and dumber.
''You take their decision making and compare it to the big promoters, they are idiotic. They think they've got a gold medal winner and they don't.'' Tags: Joseph Parker