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Parker primed to cut down giant Dimitrenko

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/09/2016 Angelo Risso

Joseph Parker © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Joseph Parker The target on Joseph Parker's back is larger than ever as he draws closer to a world title bout, according to the Kiwi boxer's trainer.

Parker, 24, will place his IBF No.1 mandatory challenger position on the line when he takes on Ukrainian Alexander Dimitrenko next Saturday in Manukau.

A Dimitrenko victory will see the 201cm behemoth pinch Parker's right to challenge current British world champion Anthony Joshua in either November or March.

Trainer Kevin Barry told reporters on Thursday that Parker was on the brink of a historic and life-changing fight against Joshua.

But a poor fight against Dimitrenko could throw it all away.

"This is a big guy and the bottom line is that if we can't close the distance with Dimitrenko, then Joe can't win the fight," Barry said.

"If we don't get it right, we risk losing everything we've worked to achieve in the last three-and-a-half years."

Parker has tussled with shorter fighters throughout 2016 but will be forced to counter Dimitrenko's 18cm reach advantage when the two step into the ring.

The south Aucklander used his training camp in Las Vegas to improve his body punches, brute strength and upper cuts.

He got in 93 rounds of sparring against taller boxes, including Polish training mate Izuagbe Ugonoh, who is on the undercard and fighting for the IBF Mediterranean Heavyweight title.

Ugonoh, 29, is just three centimetres taller than the 193cm Parker but has an extraordinary reach of 213cm.

He said Parker had gradually improved in neutralising his long arms.

"Having to work and move around my reach is something that makes him a better fighter and move better, and his head movements have improved," Ugonoh said.

Barry had also reintroduced weight training to Parker's regimen in an attempt to pack more into his body punches on Dimitrenko.

He said Parker's renowned speed and agility could now be matched with a more ferocious strike.

"It's head and hand movement, a combination of showing one thing, letting your opponent know you're coming in when you're not," Barry said.

Parker said he could barely walk after the intense weight training in Vegas but was enjoying the fruits of his labour.

He also felt he'd learned enough combinations to slow the larger Dimitrenko down.

"I feel like I've gained more power, speed even, getting faster," Parker said.

"This is a different beast."

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