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Parker backs hastily-made Cojanu plan

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/05/2017

Kiwi WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker has had barely a fortnight to adjust to the imminent threat of Razvan Cojanu but has backed his game plan to see him through to victory.

The 25-year-old Kiwi has spent much of the past 12 weeks preparing for the ungainly Hughie Fury, who he was scheduled to fight on Saturday, before the Briton pulled out of the bout with a back complaint.

Cojanu, a 30-year-old Romanian with a 16-2 professional record and No.14 WBO ranking, stepped into the breach for a title shot at short notice.

The change has forced Parker and trainer Kevin Barry to mix up their tactics quickly, adjusting to Cojanu's bulkier frame and harder hitting.

In that way, Cojanu's style partly mimics that of Ukrainian slugger Alexander Dimitrenko, who Parker dispatched in three rounds in October.

Cojanu also served as Parker's sparring partner for that fight in Manukau, imitating Dimitrenko's style in training.

But Barry said the 202cm Cojanu would be even more imposing.

"I don't think we've fought anyone as big," Barry said.

"You all know there's some big heavyweights out there at the moment, but this is the biggest physical specimen we've fought.

"There are things we must do right and things we must avoid."

Parker, despite the uncertainty, appeared unflappable at his official press conference on Wednesday and said he was just focused on getting the job done.

Keeping the WBO title in New Zealand would hand Parker, Barry and promoters Duco Events the bargaining power necessary for mega-bouts later in 2017.

High on the list of potential opponents, should Parker emerge victorious, would be WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who has made a habit of calling out Parker since his December title win over Andy Ruiz Jr.

On Thursday (NZT), the American took to Twitter to demand Parker knock his "sparring partner" Cojanu out and line up a unification fight between the two - leading to a winner-takes-all bout with IBF, IBO and WBA champion Anthony Joshua.

Despite the noise, the Auckland-born Parker was keeping calm.

"The offers mean nothing if we don't win this next fight," Parker said.

"We don't have a lot of time to change what we've been working on but the team I have, I trust, (and) we've come up with a game plan.

"I'm confident I can execute it."

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