Boxing: Junior Fa knows he holds mental edge over Kiwi rival Joseph Parker

Junior Fa sees the funny side in his billing as a potential next opponent for fellow Kiwi Joseph Parker.

The undefeated heavyweight boxer is no stranger to Parker, after the two sluggers fought four times in the amateur ranks, scoring two wins each.

Since his 2016 pro debut, Fa's progression through the heavyweight ranks has been steady. The Auckland-born 30-year-old has scored 10 knockouts in 19 wins, but his career has been stalled by illness and injury.

Unknown to Fa and his handlers, the fighter was dealing with seriously low iron and haemoglobin deficiencies that took years to diagnose. 

But through 2019, Fa was symptom-free and impressively rose to No.6 in the WBO heavyweight rankings, just below Parker (No.2), who once held that world title.

A fight between the two makes sense now more than ever and Parker's promoter, Eddie Hearn, has signalled some interest in the bout, even suggesting it takes place in New Zealand, once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. 

The Parker camp has changed its tune somewhat on Fa as a viable opponent, given just two years ago, trainer Kevin Barry scoffed at the idea.

But Fa doesn't hold any grudges over his skillset being rubbished in the past - he actually takes humour from the unfolding situation.

Speaking to Newshub, Fa believes Parker and his team have nowhere else to go for a meaningful opponent

"It's kind of funny," Fa says. "They were talking down at me for such a long time, but now they need me. 

"They wouldn't be making all this noise, if they could go somewhere else and get paid. 

"They need me, which is why they keep bringing me up. It's funny how the tables have turned."

And the City Kickboxing-trained challenger is hungry to prove Barry, Parker and manager David Higgins wrong, if the two sides can come to terms on a deal.

But money is always the driving factor in any boxing negotiation and this match is no different.

Fa's manager, Mark Keddell, has told Newshub they want a third of the total purse. With Parker reportedly making NZ$2 million a fight, Keddell believes his charge should be valued at about NZ$1million, given his undefeated record and current ranking. 

Keddell says the fight could be the first big global event after coronavirus lockdown and believes that should drive the television-rights price up - and they want a piece of that pie. 

"This will be a big fight internationally, especially if New Zealand is in front of the rest of the world getting back to normality," Keddell said.

"You have two top-10 heavyweights in the world, so you would think the commercials would work out well for both sides.

"Joseph Parker, from what I have read, makes NZ$2 million a fight, so why would they expect Junior Fa to fight for a couple hundred thousand dollars.

"Junior needs a reasonable payday as well - he also has a family to feed."

Regardless of the financials, Fa believes Parker wants the fight to put on a show for New Zealand and the world. 

"Heck yeah, I want that fight," said Fa.

"It's a business, and there are a lot of different things going on with this and that, but I know Joseph is keen and I know I am, so hopefully, the other stuff gets sorted.

"It's very frustrating, but I guess that is part of the sport at a professional level. There is money involved and that changes the game completely. 

"I trust my team that they will do what is right for me from a financial standpoint. We will come to an agreement, if both sides are willing to work things out. 

"It will happen and I can't wait to face him."

And Fa believes he holds a psychological advantage over the former world champion. Despite the 2-2 split in the amateurs, Fa is adamant poor officiating robbed him of two wins and Parker knows who had the best of those previous encounters. 

"If you were there and you saw the fights, you would think it was 4-0 to me. I believe - and I know he knows - that I beat him four times.

"It happened a long time ago, but I know he thinks I have his number.

"He will have doubts and try to dust it off, but he knows I have got him and that will play on his head."

Keddell says the ball is in Team Parker's court to make a fair offer, so they can bring New Zealand it's 2020 version of the  'Fight of the Century'.