Joseph Parker isn't the only New Zealand heavyweight boxer who belongs among the elite of the division.
That's the opinion of one of the sport’s most skilled eyes, American Jay Deas, who trains WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
- Clock ticking on Joseph Parker vs Junior Fa showdown
- Fa heads into camp with WBC champ Deontay Wilder
- Joseph Parker wants re-match with Dillian Whyte
Auckland's Junior Fa recently found himself inside the top 10 ranked WBO fighters in the world and according to Deas, the sky’s the limit for the City Kickboxing prospect.
Fa is currently stateside, helping Wilder prepare for the biggest outing of his 40-fight career against Tyson Fury next month.
The Kiwi has impressed Deas, especially given Fa’s recent health issues.
"He is absolutely a prospect at heavyweight," Deas told Newshub. "He did have some problems, but those have been fixed."
The problems Deas refers to almost cost Fa his career, if not his life. The 29-year-old was found to have low iron and haemoglobin and doctors couldn't believe he got through 10 rounds with oxygen struggling to pass through his body.
He had minor gastric surgery and thankfully, biopsies were clear of cancer.
"We were looking at career over, I guess," Fa's manager Mark Keddell told Newshub.
"I didn't bring that up with him, but if he'd had bowel cancer, I don't know where that goes to."
Now in the clear and healthy, Fa has eyes only on heavyweight gold and Deas believes he has all the skills to stand opposite Wilder - not only in a three-round sparring session, but a even heavyweight championship fight.
"Totally different guy,” he told Newshub. “It's amazing when you have all your facilities, all your vitamins and your minerals, and your body chemistry is working the right way, after it hasn't been.
"It's an amazing thing.
"Usually, we only bring sparring partners in for one week at a time, but Junior will actually be here for an entire month
"He just completed the first sparring week and he got a lot of good rounds.
"He's very competitive, talented and very athletic as well, so it's great for us."
Fa provides a near-perfect mirror of what Wilder will face at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on December 2 (NZT).
At 1.96m (6ft 5in), with an 83cm reach, the towering former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist offers not only height, but also the speed and power that Fury will have on show in the City of Angels.
"Certainly, we were interested in the size that Junior presents, but even more, we were looking for athleticism, because Tyson Fury is not just height - he is all about athleticism.
"So I'd rather have a six-five guy that's athletic than a six-eight guy in camp that's more of a statue.
"We wanted an athletic guy and I immediately thought of Junior."
Fa's next fight is on December 15 at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch against Argentinian slugger Rogelio Omar Rossi.
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