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Boxing big stage awaits relieved Parker

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/05/2016

Relief mixed with joy in Joseph Parker's camp after surviving the grimmest examination of his career and striding into the upper echelon of world heavyweight boxing.

Parker is a mandatory challenger for the IBF world title after beating durable Cameroon opponent Carlos Takam by unanimous decision in their IBF eliminator fight in Auckland on Saturday.

The 24-year-old will probably challenge for the belt within a year, most likely in England against current champion Anthony Joshua, the unbeaten Olympic champion.

Parker is sure to fight again before then but probably not against an opponent as risky as French-based 35-year-old Takam, who proved to be as unrelenting as his reputation had promised.

After waltzing through most of his previous 18 professional fights, Parker met a smart, tough opponent who trainer Kevin Barry feared may have done enough to beat his charge.

"I thought it was a 50-50 coming in and I thought it was 50-50 at the end," Barry said.

"I was hoping the judges would score for Joe's jab. He displayed a fantastic double jab which won him a lot of the later rounds for us."

Parker needed a strong finish after Takam held sway through the middle stages. The tall Kiwi was regularly backed onto the ropes and appeared to be breathing hard before landing some solid blows in a dominant eighth round.

Parker admits the fight was a steep learning experience, having never previously fought more than 10 rounds.

He praised Barry's calmness in the corner, which he said remedied some "mistakes".

"I came back and refocused and got the job done."

Barry was pleased with Parker's ability to slip most of Takam's bombs and that he proved he has a durable chin.

"As I said when this fight was first made, Carlos Takam was always going to be a very dangerous opponent.

"I'm very very proud of him.

"It was great for the New Zealand public just to see how much of a classy, skilful fighter Joseph Parker is."

Barry says there is ample room to improve over the next year before any showdown with Joshua (16-0), who took the IBF title off American Charles Martin in April.

Joshua, who must defend it against undefeated American Dominic Breazeale in June, is nevertheless in the sights of Parker's promoter Dean Lonergan.

"With this performance he has put Anthony Joshua on notice," Lonergan said.

"We are now heading to England to explode the myth that is Anthony Joshua."

The last Kiwi to fight for a heavyweight world title was 16 years ago, when David Tua lost heavily on points to Briton Lennox Lewis in Las Vegas.

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