| Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:40 AM
Is Joseph Parker the saviour of New Zealand boxing, or is Dean Lonergan?
There is no doubt the Duco Events co-owner is a pro when it comes to playing the New Zealand media, it's just too easy for him. Some of the media loath to give the former Kiwis international any credit. Their bitterness only sees a man that is lining his pockets off the exploitation of the people he puts in the ring. I see a businessman who loves money and boxing. I love money and boxing too, I'm just not very good with either.
The public tiff with trainer Kevin Barry was Deano at his very best. The two men know each other very well and Lonergan knew exactly how Barry would react to his calling out of Sonny Bill Williams.
Barry was genuiunely livid, but he'll get over it and Lonergan knows this. It makes for perfect news angles and in turn creates more talk around Parker's title fight. Parker's last fight was against South African Francois Botha, a man well respected internationally as a fighter. But it was the dwarf fight on the undercard that got people buying the pay-per-views. Well played Duco, another news angle for the press to sink their teeth into.
It's all very good fodder for the media, giving unrivalled coverage to a sportsman who is still a baby in the context of his career.
Lonergan also makes it very easy for the media. It's never hard to get comment from Parker or any of his entourage. The media love this. I haven't heard one negative comment towards Parker yet. I'm pretty sure the same writers were ripping into the undefeated Sonny Bill Williams' technical flaws at the same stage of his career. Compare his accessibility to the media to that of Parker's. It's not hard to see who is going to find favour in the press.
Whether you like Lonergan or not, there is one thing you can be certain of. He and his Duco Events partner David Higgins (the ideas man) have saved a sport that was in dire straights in New Zealand.
It's doubtful Parker would still be fighting right now if he wasn't signed up with Duco. If he was fighting, he'd be doing it on a shoe string budget and working part time to support himself. You can guarantee he wouldn't have the world class full-time trainer he has in Kevin Barry.
Lonergan's ability to have the New Zealand media eating out of the palm of his hand makes him the most important man in New Zealand boxing. Not Joseph Parker, not David Tua and certainly not Sonny Bill Williams. The media coverage he is able to generate for his fights puts money not just into his pockets, but also into the fighters' and the sport.
Mark my words, over the next two to five years, boxing in this country is going to explode with up-and-coming talent. That will be thanks to Dean Lonergan and David Higgins.
Don't think for a second I don't think Parker is the real deal, I do and always have. I've followed him since he was a teenager training out near Hunters Corner in South Auckland. He has freakish hand speed, knockout power and something David Tua has always struggled with...discipline (Freddy Roach's words, not mine). Parker would beat many of the top 10 ranked heavyweights in the world.
Afa Tatupu will not go the distance with Parker tonight. Parker will land one on his chin, he'll go down early and the media will continue to source quotes from Lonergan, Barry and Colonel Bob Sheridan about how great this kid is going to be.
It's all good stuff for a sport that less than six months ago couldn't even scrape together $15,000 for its national elite championships. I wonder where they ended up getting that money from...
Photo: Dean Lonergan and Joseph Parker, 2012 (Photosport)