Trainer Eugene Bareman has fuelled the fire in a burgeoning rivalry between Kiwi heavyweight boxers Joseph Parker and Junior Fa.
Bareman was overseas last month, when Parker and Fa appeared on the same fight card in Christchurch. Both fighters scored impressive knockout wins over their respective rivals, but afterwards, Parker's trainer Kevin Barry scoffed at Fa's credentials as a potential future opponent.
After losing his WBO world title to Anthony Joshua and then dropping his next fight to Dillian Whyte, Parker scored a much-needed third-round victory over Alexander 'The Great' Flores, while Fa took little more than a minute to dispatch Argentinian Rogelio Omar Rossi on the undercard.
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"If we're ever going to get a fight with [Fa], he needs to fight somebody who's good," said Barry. "It's a joke he gets mentioned in the same breath with Joe."
But in a Combat TV interview, Bareman has defended his fighter, warning his counterpart to stick to his training pads.
"We chose the right opponent that we thought for where Junior was," he said. "Junior was in a funny sort of place, coming off a sickness basically - a problem with his blood - and we were rebuilding from that.
"We thought this was the right opponent. He had pretty good credentials - not the best credentials, I'll be honest, but a good enough test for Junior, we thought - and he came through that test with flying colours.
"Junior got a little bit of criticism about that opponent, mainly from Mr Kevin Barry… but if you look at the rankings, Junior's opponent and Joseph's opponent were only a few places ahead of each other, so I'm not sure where this criticism comes from."
Bareman, head coach at the City Kickboxing gym, referenced Barry's previous stint with former world-title contender David Tua - a relationship that ended in rancour and legal battles over Tua's $20 million earnings.
"Kevin Barry has been put in this privileged position that I personally think he shouldn't be in, and as Joseph Parker has got more and more successful, he's got more and more brave," said Bareman.
"In my opinion, Mr Barry should hold the pads for the camera and other than that, be very, very quiet - let's not get too cocky about our position.
"I don't know if Kevin Barry will ever watch this, but just be a little bit careful, my friend."
Parker ended 2018 as the WBC's fifth-ranked heavyweight, while Fa improved to ninth on WBO standings.
Bareman was sure the two fighters would eventually meet, but not in the near future.
"We've been very honest about our position," he told Combat TV. "We want the fight to fester a little bit more, to get a bit more interest.
"It's not going to do Junior any harm to get a bit more experience as well. Strategically, it makes perfect sense [for Parker] to fight Junior now, because Junior doesn't have the same experiences."
Fa and Parker have been rivals since their amateur days, but that edge cuts even deeper, with both fighters also forging strong allegiances on either side of the Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury match-up.
Fa helped Wilder prepare for last month's disputed drawn outcome in Los Angeles and is likely to play a part in the build-up to a rematch.
"[The Wilder camp] went out of their way to tell me how impressed they were with Junior and that Junior can be an elite-level heavyweight, so there's high chance that he will be part of Deontay's camp for now and the foreseeable future, " said Bareman.
"But obviously, if Deontay stays where he is and our guy keeps climbing, at some point, they will have to break away - that's just the sport."