It is a sign of how dangerous a task unbeaten New Zealand heavyweight contender Joseph Parker faces a week today against Cameroonian Carlos Takam, that his trainer Kevin Barry twice turned a possible fight with Takam down, as he was “all risk and no reward.” This was a few months back, when Parker needed, in the words of Barry, who was speaking with Stuff.co.nz earlier this week, “more time to develop and mature.”
Now, with a crack at Anthony Joshua’s IBF belt up for grabs for the winner of the May 21st fight, Parker and his team are fully confident of victory. Still Barry is in no way entering the bout with the idea that it will be easy. Barry says Takam is by far the toughest test yet for 24-year-old Parker, 18-0(16).
“Carlos Takam is the fighter in the heavyweight division the other heavyweights don’t want to fight because of the package he brings to the fight,” Barry told Duncan Johnstone. “That’s why I turned this fight down two times. I said I’m not interested in Carlos Takam because it was all risk and no reward, because at that time Joe needed more time to develop and mature. When we were given the chance this year, the risk and reward equation changed dramatically. The winner of this fight becomes the mandatory to fight for the IBF title, so it was worth fighting a fighter who brought such danger to the ring. Takam is a very dangerous, very good fighter – by far the most challenging opponent we have ever had in front of us.”
Takam is 35-years-old and he will be fighting in front of Parker’s vocal fans. Still, with his experience – beaten only by Alexander Povetkin and, early in his career, Gregory Tony and holding wins over Tony Thompson and Michael Grant as well as a draw with Mike Perez – and his skills, Takam might well prove too much for the still-developing Parker. Barry describes Takam, 33-2-1(25) as a fighter who brings “relentless pressure” and who adopts the shoulder-roll and has “very sound defence.” Despite these attributes, Barry is sure Parker will be able to get the win, and with a it a shot at Anthony Joshua – this perhaps coming next spring.
It’s a very interesting fight we will see next Saturday (and we will see this heavyweight fight, even though we may not now see the other, bigger fight that was set for May 21, between Deontay Wilder and the aforementioned Povetkin – we await news on this subject) and with the styles and the power and number of punches thrown by Parker and Takam, we might even see a great, great fight. Picking a winner is tough: I lean ever so slightly towards Parker; by very close decision that thrills in Manukau City.