Joseph Parker and Jason Bergman square off in Auckland ahead of their fight in Samoa 23 January 2106. PHOTO: EMILY DONALD/FAIRFAX MEDIA
AUCKLAND, FRIDAY 15 JANUARY 2016: The verbal sparring between Joseph Parker and Jason Bergman got under way yesterday, albeit a little one-sided, as the heavyweights squared off for the first time ahead of next week’s showdown in Samoa.
Tired and weary after touching down in Auckland off a long-haul flight from the United States, that didn’t stop Bergman from making any bold declarations for the January 23 fight, billed as the ‘Rumble in Paradise‘.
Bergman’s record stands at 25-11-2 with 16 knockouts but the stocky American comes with some pedigree having sparred with three world champions, most recent recently WBC title-holder Deontay Wilder ahead of this weekend’s defence against Artur Szpilka.
Parker is looking for his 18th consecutive victory in Apia but the 31-year-old Bergman was quick to poke holes at his unblemished record.
“I believe Joseph Parker is very well-rounded. He’s quick, smooth, has a good amateur background. The only thing that I do doubt to be honest is he hasn’t fought no one,” Bergman said.
“I’ve been in the ring with three world champions and I did the best in every camp I’ve ever been in. I believe I will be his greatest achievement yet if he beats me.”
Bergman is Parker’s first southpaw opponent as a professional but he dismissed suggestions he would be just another number as the Kiwi looks to continue his rise up the rankings.
Parker has been struggling with elbow and lower back injuries but Bergman, who has won 16 of his last 18 bouts, warned the 24-year-old needed to be at his best if he is to walk away with a victory.
“I hope he’s feeling 100 per cent ready to go to war on January 23 because it will be a fight,” he added.
“I feel it’s going to be a very competitive fight and I’ve come here to win not for the pay cheque.
“I’m going to shock the world and I’m going to be ready to die in that ring and I hope he is to.”
He also noticed Parker was sporting a “puffy face” in a recent video, a sure sign he believes his opponent his struggling with the southpaw style.
“Puffy face is usually coming from getting hit a lot in camp and sparring.
“It could be the reverse of us being lefties, everything is backwards so it is much, much different than fighting an orthodox fighter.
“That’s the advantage of being a leftie and I like it.”
Parker wasn’t taking the bait and expressed a quiet confidence as he detailed his preparation.
The fight will be the conclusion of a busy period for Parker, his sixth fight in 10 months, and he has vowed to go out with a bang before taking a well-earned break.
“He has what he wants to say,” Parker said of Bergman. “I haven’t had an end of year yet; I’ve been training right through so I’m looking forward to the break after this fight and want to finish this year off with fireworks.
“He’s well prepared and like he said he’s ready to go to war so it’s going to guns blazing in Samoa.”
Much has been made of Parker’s injury concerns but trainer Kevin Barry insisted there was no chance of his prized fighter being underdone.
“We’ve got to take every fight like it’s a championship fight and we prepare ourselves 100 per cent every time we enter the ring because the stakes are so high now,” Barry said.
“There’s a lot of pressure on Joe every time he enters the ring.”
Parker arrives in Samoa on Saturday, a day before Bergman arrives in the country.