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Pro ranks beckon for Joseph Parker

Published: 11:11AM Wednesday May 16, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Emerging New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker announced his switch to the professional ranks today.

Considered by some as the country's best young talent since David Tua, 20-year-old parker will have his first professional bout on July 5, against an as yet unnamed opponent.

A press conference today unveiled Parker's plans to take his place on the undercard of the 'The Godfather of All Fight Nights' at Auckland's SkyCity Casino.

The main event will feature David Tua's American nemesis Monte Barrett and Kiwi Shane Cameron.

"It's been a long time coming," Parker said.

"But finally the time is right. This is an exciting new phase of my career and it's time to start to step things up.

"I intend being in the game for a long time and it will all start at SkyCity."

"I look forward to making my debut and giving New Zealanders an insight into the next chapter of New Zealand heavyweight boxing. I honestly can't wait to get it on."

While he had originally planned to hold off turning professional until after the London Olympic Games, that particular script was rewritten after an unexpected loss to Samoan Junior Fa, leaving the pathway for Australian Johan Linde to claim the sole Oceania Olympic heavyweight berth.

But tellingly, Parker proved his worth, beating Linde just last week for gold at the 50th Winners Tournament, an international meet in Belgrade featuring some of the world's best amateurs and Olympic contenders.

Parker beat Erick Pfeifer, a World Championship bronze medallist from Germany, and taught sole Oceania Heavyweight Olympic boxer Australian Johan Linde a lesson, beating him in the final to take the gold medal.

"There has never been any doubt about the boy's ability," said Parker's mentor and financial backer Sir Bob Jones.

"He's got a great future. Forget about his loss to Fa, because Joseph came back and beat the sole Oceania heavyweight Olympic contender Johan Linde last week.

"Amateur boxing (and its scoring system) doesn't suit Joseph. Professional boxing does."

"He knows he has all the tools to be a very good boxer in the professional ranks but it's all about application and hard work from here.

"As long as he is putting in the hours in the gym and is doing everything he can to be successful as a boxer, I'll back him."

Duco Events promoter David Higgins was excited about the event, anticipating a large crowd and a massive pay-per-view audience.

"You can throw numbers around about the 'Fight of the Century' being the biggest pay-per-view event in the history of New Zealand television but ultimately the reason why we do these nights is because we are passionate about boxing," Higgins said.

"Part of the responsibility that we carry by promoting fighters like David Tua and Shane Cameron is to ensure there is a pathway for someone like Joseph.

"And you can only stand back and admire what he has done since his Olympic dream was extinguished."