By Duncan Johnstone
Sherman Williams says he's ''no stepping stone'' in boxer Joseph Parker's rapid rise in the heavyweight division.
The two squared off yesterday for a media conference ahead of their October 16 clash in west Auckland and Williams was full of the sort of verbal sparring associated with the division.
At the age of 41 and with 17 years in the professional ranks, the chunky chap from the Bahamas reckons he's earned the right to talk the talk. With 36 wins in 52 fights and being knocked out just once, he also feels he's walked the walk.
''I'm going to bring vicious lefts, vicious rights ... I'm going to do whatever it takes to take these titles from Joseph,'' Williams declared with New Zealand's Parker putting his WBO Oriental and PABA titles on the line.
''Joseph is a very good boxer, he's a great athlete and I actually like the guy. He has a good attitude, he has a good personality. But come October 16 it's going to come down to who wants it more, who has the better condition and who has the experience to take out the job.''
Williams isn't surprised by the fast-track Parker finds himself on.
While some critics worry the 22-year-old is being rushed, Williams says it's what happens when promising youngsters get big backing behind them. But, he points out, boxing was the most brutal of sports where inadequacies could be exposed.
''So far from what I've seen and know, Joseph is a good athlete, he has a lot of natural attributes. But boxing is boxing; boxing aint rugby, boxing aint football, boxing aint baseball, boxing is an animal of its own. I've been in it for a while and I consider myself a lion in the ring.
''Joseph is in a good position as a young fighter coming up - he has Duco behind him, he has a lot of money behind him and normally they move in this fashion.
''But I'm no stepping stone. I've come to fight. So the fight is signed, the fight is made and if they aren't sure what they are doing, it's too late because come October 16 I intend to deliver big time.''
Williams is thrilled to get this shot at Parker after their original fight, scheduled to be on the undercard to Wladirmir Klitschko's world title fight in Germany in April didn't eventuate.
Williams was thrown out of Klitschko's camp after differences of opinion and sent back to the Bahamas. He said his problems lay with Klitschko and not Parker, he certainly wasn't running scared.
He said getting this opportunity justified his belief that he had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the Parker camp.
But while Parker has gone on to fight three times since then and takes his career to 10-0 (9 KOs), Williams had remained inactive.
He had issues with a manager who failed to get him fights and he also had to deal with the deaths of his mother and mother-in-law.
''I've had some ups and downs, some personal issues to deal with. But I've continued to train and got my road work in and when the fight was confirmed I was straight into the gym. I'm always in the gym.
''I don't worry about the inactivity ... I've had that through my career. The way I see it, I'm the fresher guy.''
Parker said he was in a good space after his latest win over American journeyman Keith Thompson earlier this month. He had nothing but respect for the durable Williams and his training would reflect that.
Parker heads to Las Vegas tomorrow for a seven-week camp. He had already done major homework on Williams before their last scheduled fight.
He believed he was a better fighter since then and was looking forward to his fourth fight of a year where he will also squeeze in another bout, headlining December's Fight For Life promotion.
''I love keeping busy,'' Parker said.
''A lot of fighters have one or two fights a year and I think that's a bit dangerous. I think keeping busy you get a lot of experience. When I look back at the old days, a lot of fighters had nine or 10 fights a year.''