Parker's Trainer Doubts Sonny Bill Williams Will Take Fight
By Duncan Johnstone
Kevin Barry believes Sonny Bill Williams will never get into the ring with Joseph Parker though the young heavyweight's promoters are going to pursue the league star relentlessly "to bust his myth as a boxer".
Parker's bright career took another big step forward last night with a two-round demolition of Afa Tatupu to win one of the two New Zealand heavyweight belts.
Williams holds the other and Parker wants it.
Barry, the experienced US-based trainer, said that if Williams saw the aggression and punching power Parker displayed last night, it wouldn't have encouraged him to take up a A$1 million (NZ$1.14m) offer to get in the ring.
"I think Sonny Bill will be very happy that he has made himself available for the Kiwis," Barry said of the Roosters player's late decision to play the rugby league World Cup.
"He is never going to get in the ring with Joseph."
Parker was a bit more diplomatic after his win.
"Sonny is quite busy with everything he is doing," he said.
"Maybe he doesn't want to box, I'm not quite sure. But has the other belt that I want. Let's unify it."
That's still the dream of promoters Duco Events who have put out the massive carrot for Williams although even they admitted Parker's demolition job on Tatupu won't have helped their cause.
"It's unlikely, I would have thought, that we are going to get Sonny Bill in the ring," promoter Dean Lonergan said.
"But we are going to pursue him relentlessly. We are either going to shame him into it or incentivise it with money because it is an easy fight for us.
"Joseph Parker will knock him out it in one or two rounds and then it's done . . . the myth of Sonny Bill as a boxer is gone.
"We are going to get Joseph harder and harder fights. I promise you fighting Sonny Bill is a big step backwards in terms of technical ability and fighting ability.
"But it does two things - it will bring enormous publicity to the table to Joe and that's not a bad thing and it will be a decent payday for Joe and that's not a bad thing either so if we can put the fight together, we'd do it tomorrow."
Parker showed another side to his game last night.
Technically good and with lovely movement and quick hands, he pummelled Tatupu with raw power in a brutal battle.
As expected Tatupu came out swinging and managed to suck the young Parker into a brawl.
That angered Barry, especially when Parker copped a head butt that split him open above the left eye.
The referee told Parker's corner he was going to stop the fight after the second round because the wound was so large and raw.
That saw Barry put pressure on Parker to go back to the original game plan, and he carried that out to perfection, finishing off Tatupu from distance with a wicked flurry of blows.
"I didn't follow the plan, my emotions took over and I went into a brawl with a brawler," Parker admitted later.
"He came with bombs and haymakers.
"We had practiced in the camp to handle what he brought. But I didn't put that into practice.
"Kevin said 'what are you doing?'. We made a plan and in the second round I was able to get my distance back and got my punches flowing from the distance.
"I'm still learning, I'm still getting experience in the ring. I'm grateful we got the belt and the win. It was a dream for me to get this belt before any others. I am holding it with pride."
Barry said he was "bloody angry" with Parker and the biggest disappointment was the cut - something the trainer had predicted could happen if he got in too close to Tatupu.
But Barry was impressed with the way Parker was able to gather himself between rounds, adjust his fight to the game plan and carry out the assignment under the pressure applied by the referee,
"I guess Joseph wanted to prove that he could mix it up with a real puncher and show that 'I'm not some soft guy that can just box'," Barry said.
"He showed that."