Boxing: 'I am better than Joseph Parker' - Junior Fa empowered by City Kickboxing camp

Kiwi-Tongan heavyweight Junior Fa is the first to admit that his upcoming bout against Joseph Parker will be the biggest test of his career to date.

On December11 at Auckland's Spark Arena, Fa will put his 19-0 undefeated professional record on the line in a long-awaited clash against the former WBO champion, rekindling the amateur rivalry that saw them split four previous encounters.

The 30-year-old recognises that Parker boasts the more impressive fight resume, which includes wins over the likes of former unified heavyweight world champion Andy Ruiz Jr and Carlos Takam, as well as a bout under the sport's brightest lights against Anthony Joshua.

But as far as Fa is concerened, that all simply adds to his opportunity to make a statement that resonates around the heavyweight boxing world.

"Joseph Parker has fought great, great champions in his time," says Fa.

"I haven't fought any household names just yet, but that's all the more reason for me to train hard and to prove to everyone else that I am better than Joseph Parker, and I've believed that for a long time."

Preparation is an area where Fa believes he'll have a distinct advantage over Parker.

Fa trains full time at Auckland's world-renowned City Kickboxing, a gym that has established a deserved reputation across the combat sports world as a factory for quality fighters of a world champion pedigree.

While that's primarily come as a result of the success of its MMA fighters - most notably UFC world champions Israel Adesanya and Alex Volkanovski, along with contenders like Dan Hooker and Kai Kara-France - the gym's boxing stocks have also gone from strength to strength, led by coaching savants Eugene Bareman and Doug Viney.

In addition to the likes of fellow rising Tongan powerhouse Hemi Ahio, on any given day you may find Fa casually striking with Adesanya or even flyweight Kara-France, meaning a depth of sparring partners and knowledge on offer that Parker is unable to match.

"I come from the greatest gym in the world," says Fa. "There's a great pool of talent there and every session is a hard session.

"We always push each other, whether it be our conditioning or our sparring. We're just constantly learning.

"We have many styles in our gym and you just pick up something new everytime you go in for a sparring session and I'm really grateful for that.

"Also the pad sessions with Doug [Viney] and Eugene [Bareman] - those two bring two different styles to the table, so I'm just constantly learning in that gym and come fight night, I'll be able to put that on display."

Parker typically conducts his fights camps in Las Vegas with trainer Kevin Barry but will relocate to Auckland for his bout against Fa, although it's unclear exactly where it will take place.

He may also be without key sparring partner Italian heavyweight Guido Vianello, who has been denied dispensation to enter New Zealand as an essential worker. 

Manager Mark Keddell echoes those sentiments, confident that the championship environment at Fa's fight camp will give him a distinct edge come December 11.

"They have an amazing gym culture of performance, which is something you don't really see in many places in the world in any business," Keddell says.

"The culture is the oil of their machine, and the culture they have for performance and execution is second to none.

"I think Junior takes his whole team into the ring with him. They're a hard working group of guys, every single fighter in that gym. You turn up on a Monday or a Saturday for a session and there's 60 pro fighters sparring."

Fa says he and his team have long had Parker in their sights, meaning they've already begun working on certain techniques and tactics in planning for his demise.

"We knew that this fight was definitely going to happen, so we did stuff at training that we just kept in our back pocket," Fa notes.

"Now is the time to really develop those skills and techniques that we worked on before to bring them out on fight night."