By Ryan Burton
#1 ranked IBF heavyweight contender Joseph Parker (20-0) has a lot at stake Saturday in New Zealand when he faces Alexander Dimitrenko at the Vodafone Events Centre. A loss would at least temporarily halt Parker's title aspirations as it would strip him of his mandatory ranking.
Parker's trainer Kevin Barry believes that the challenge Dimitrenko presents is worth the risk to help prepare his fighter for the tall champions in the heavyweight division.
"Well obviously the Dimitrenko fight poses a lot more challenges than Solomon Haumono," Barry said in reference to Parker's last opponent who he knocked out in July.
"Haumono is a slow strong powerful guy who comes straight at you. Dimitrenko is 6'7'.5", who is a very tall guy and an experienced fighter with a lot of fights behind him. Probably the biggest man that Joe has fought in his career and a fight that has posed us a lot of challenges in our training camp. I got three fighters as part of our sparring team with two who were 6'8" and one was 6'6". The two 6'8" guys bring strength and they bring power. They bring very long reach and they put a lot of pressure on Joe and make it hard for him to close the distance just like Dimitrenko will."
Even though a fight against IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is on the horizon, Barry has kept Parker's focus on Dimitrenko. He said that there will be plenty of time to study Joshua when the time comes.
For now Dimitrenko is the only opponent they are worried about.
"We are one fight at a time and our total focus is Alexander Dimitrenko and has been since we made the fight. We are well aware that after Dimitrenko we have other fights scheduled for this year and likely an IBF world title fight versus Anthony Joshua in early 2017 but it is very important you look at the man in front of you because when you don't is when you fall short and get into trouble.
"Obviously once we beat Carlos Takam the stars were aligned for us to fight Anthony Joshua. We had made the Haumono fight before the Takam fight. Joshua is a very big man and it is very important that we only fight Joseph against tall men. David Price is a possible opponent for Nov 26 but we have to beat Dimitrenko first and it is very important that Joe takes care of business on Octobrer 1," Barry told BoxingScene.com.
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