Parker v Leapai: Kevin Barry impressed with Joseph Parker's newfound maturity

Trainer Kevin Barry claims Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker is in the best shape of his life and puts that down to his newfound maturity.

Parker is currently preparing for his first bout of 2019 against Aussie slugger Alex Leapai in Rhode Island on Sunday (NZT), which will also be the first of three fights under British promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sports.

Leapai was only confirmed as Parker's opponent last week, after negotiations to fight America Eric Molina fell through at the 11th hour.

Despite the late change of opponent, Barry has been impressed with his fighter's preparation, making a shock admission about the 27-year-old Aucklander.

"Joe will be lighter than he has been for his past couple of bouts," Barry told Trackside Radio. "He's been lean this training camp.

"In fact, he came back to me for the first time together on fighting weight, which I was bloody shocked by.

Parker v Leapai: Kevin Barry impressed with Joseph Parker's newfound maturity

"He now realises he has to do lots more work between fights, which means we weren't trying to take off 15-20 pounds during our eight-week training camp.

"We've had more time to focus on skill work and it has made it more enjoyable for both of us."

Barry feels the changes were down to Parker becoming more humble and mature, in and out of the ring.

"During our talks, he said to me, 'why wasn't I doing this before? Why wasn't I coming back into camp at decent weight?'

"I had to tell him because we weren't ready and mature enough to make that commitment, and there are lots of changes he's gone through over the last couple of years.

"He's had his first defeat in the ring, lost his title and then he's now the father of three girls. That has changed a lot of things in his life and he's far now mature when he first began with me in 2013."

Meanwhile, 39-year-old Leapai reckons he has what it takes to topple Parker.

"I'm fit, I've been training for months hoping to get a big fight and Joseph Parker is in for a big shock," Leapai told the Daily Telegraph.

"I'm going to put him under a lot of pressure from the opening bell. I'm in good shape and I'm ready to give Joseph Parker the toughest night of his life.

"Joe is a real good boxer and a nice guy, but this is my big chance to force my way back into the world top 10 and I have to make the most of it."


Join us at 1pm Sunday for live updates of the Joseph Parker v Alex Leapai heavyweight bout