Joseph Parker remains on the hunt for a second heavyweight title reign.
That journey will come a with a new trainer along for the ride.
New Zealand’s Parker has parted ways with Kevin Barry, the former heavyweight titlist confirmed on Thursday. The news comes days after Parker’s latest victory, a 12-round decision win over countryman Junior Fa in their Feb. 27th clash in Auckland.
“Without Kevin I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Parker noted in a statement on Thursday. “Together we made it to the very top. Kevin was with me every step of the way, guiding my progress inside and outside of the ring. So it is with genuine sadness that I confirm our partnership has come to an end.
“But the time just feels right. It’s fitting that we closed this chapter of my career with a win in front of a great home crowd in Auckland, and with bigger things just on the horizon. I know Kevin will always be in my corner.”
Parker (28-2, 21KOs) enlisted the services of Barry prior to his fifth pro fight, which also marked his U.S. debut. The two have worked together for more than seven years, a journey which saw Parker claim the WBO heavyweight title following a 12-round majority decision win over Andy Ruiz in their Dec. 2016 battle of unbeaten contenders.
Two title defenses followed before conceding the belt to then-unbeaten Anthony Joshua in their March 2018 multi-belt unification match. Parker subsequently dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to Dillian Whyte before embarking on a current four-fight win streak.
“I’m hugely proud to have played a part in New Zealand and Samoa crowning their first heavyweight world champion,” noted Barry, best known for winning by disqualification over Evander Holyfield en route to a Silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. “It has been an amazing journey with Joseph and Team Parker. But all journeys must come to an end, and the time is right for myself and Joseph to go in our own directions. I have been in New Zealand for five months now, away from my family and my other fighters. I have three guys fighting for world titles this year and have responsibilities with them and a few new guys.
“It’s not possible for me to stay in New Zealand any longer. For Joe, he has a wife and three young girls in New Zealand, and he wishes to spend more time here. I totally understand this and will always be in his corner and support him. We have always had a very close bond and I want nothing but the best for him. We have achieved so much together. It has been one heck of an amazing journey.”
Much of Parker’s time under Barry was spent in the latter’s Las Vegas training facility. Parker remained home in New Zealand for this latest camp, a trend he plans to continue moving forward and which was a crucial point in an otherwise amicable split.
“With Kevin based in Las Vegas and Joseph keen to spend more time in New Zealand – and not to mention the restrictions on travel created by Covid-19 – this was a natural time for one of New Zealand’s most successful sporting partnerships to come to a close,” stated David Higgins, Parker’s longtime promoter-turned-manager. “I’d personally like to pay tribute to Kevin. He worked tirelessly to make sure Joseph capitalized on his natural talent, and the results have been there for all to see. Kevin’s place in history as New Zealand’s finest boxing trainer is well and truly secure.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox