Saturday at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, sees the return of a former world Heavyweight champion, as he continues a stop-start rebuild.
Joseph Parker (27-2, KO21) has had a fair few setbacks since losing his WBO title in March 2018, with freak injuries and surgery pushing the 29-year-old’s bid for redemption back.
Back in his homeland this weekend, Parker attempts to settle an old amateur score when he meets his countryman, Junior Fa (19-0, KO10) over twelve rounds. The pair clashed four times in the unpaid code, with the score tied at 2-2.
After a steady upbringing in his pro career, Parker claimed the vacant WBO title in December 2016 taking a majority decision win over Andy Ruiz Jr.
Parker would then go on to defend victoriously on the cards twice, first against Razvan Cojanu and then against Hughie Fury, again by majority.
His standing as champion ended when he cashed his belt in to challenge for Anthony Joshua’s WBA (Super) and IBF crowns in March 2018, losing a wide points decision in Cardiff.
Joseph’s return to British soil wasn’t much easier, dropped twice by Dillian Whyte, before running out of time to finish the job having dropped Whyte himself in the final round.
That unanimous points defeat was Parker’s last, and his relaunch has been a gradual one. Three low key stoppage wins have followed, and an October 2019 clash with Dereck Chisora was shelved due to Parker being bitten by a spider.
Joseph last appeared in February 2020, when he stopped Shawndell Winters in five rounds. Parker and Fa were due to meet in December 2020, but Parker required surgery after blood tests, but the two should finally get it on this weekend.
31-year-old Fa had a decent amateur career, winning Commonwealth Bronze in 2010, and appearing in the World Series, and he turned over in 2016.
He has campaigned in his homeland and outposts in the USA, and the Parker clash will represent a major step up for him.
As recently as June 2019 though, faded Heavyweight hope, Dominick Guinn dropped Fa in the fourth round of their ten rounder, before Fa rallied to clearly win on the cards.
Fa was last out in November 2019, dropping Devin Vargas twice before retaining his interim WBO Oriental title on points.
Prediction: Fa is unbeaten, but not seriously tested, and the professional game will be completely different to the meetings he had with Parker as an amateur.
I think Parker could catch Fa cold, possibly dropping him early, on the way to a wide win on the judges’ cards.
The undercard isn’t draped in household names, and a vacant Female New Zealand Heavyweight title clash heads the preliminaries.
Auckland’s Alrie Meleisea (5-0-1, KO0) has held the belt previously, and she contests the belt against Lani Daniels (4-2-2, KO0), who has drawn her last two contests at Middleweight against Tessa Tuelevao after defeating her in 2018.
She has also campaigned at Light Heavyweight, so this is a tough assignment, and one that Meleisea should clearly win on points over eight.
The two six rounders on the card come at the heavier weight classes.
At Cruiserweight, Nikolas Charalampous (19-3, KO9) should have too much for Panuve Helu (12-2-1, KO11) and can score a win inside schedule
While at Heavyweight, Hemi Ahio (16-0, KO11) takes on old campaigner, Julius Lloyd-Long (18-24-1, KO18) who he should be able to defeat inside the distance.
There are two four rounders at Light Heavyweight, where Jerome Pampellone (2-0, KO1) should outscore debutant Antz Amouta, and John Parker (5-0, KO2), brother of Joseph, should do the same against another debutant in Egelani Taito.
At Super Lightweight, Ritchie Hadlow (2-0, KO1) should deal with Obedi Maguchi (2-3, KO1) in a clear points win.