Junior Fa and the Heat raise bar as Parker plateaus
Both boxers had quite a difficult 2018 with Joseph Parker losing his WBO World title, consecutive losses and Junior Fa’s health problems risking losing his USA promoter. Junior Fa ended his 2018 on a high note, successfully defending his interim WBO Oriental title and raising in the ranking to 8th as of January 2019. Joseph Parker might have ended the year on a win, but the controversy surrounding the win didn't do him any favours.
So what is next for these two rivals for 2019?
It has been confirmed that Junior Fa will be competing in the United States on March 2nd on the Jamie Walker vs Dan Karpency undercard. Stablemate and gym buddy Hemi Ahio will be make his USA debut on the same card. Both boxers opponents are yet to be confirmed. It is interesting to note that Junior Fa is in the same position now that Shane Cameron was right before Cameron fought David Tua in 2009.
A fight between Joseph Parker and Junior Fa would be a mega event for New Zealand but If we are realists this fight at best will not eventuate until end of 2020. Exciting match ups on the horizon include Australian boxers such as Lucas Browne, Willie Nasio, Alex Leapai or Australian Champion Demsey McKean.
Hemi 'The Heat' Ahio has faced a turbulent three years due to contractual obligations to his former promoter Super 8 aka VSLive. The contract expired in July 2018, making him free to compete again. Hemi Ahio left his trainer Lolo Heimuli and joined City Kickboxing, the same gym that trains Junior Fa, Baby Nansen, Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker and Panuve Helu. Ahio ended his 2018 with a Unanimous Decision against 200kg Conrad Lam and an easy knockout over Junior Maletino Iakopo.
As for Joseph Parker on what he should do next… A smart move would be to fight Zhilei Zhang, Kyotaro Fujimoto or Zhang Jung Long. All three fighters hold favorable positions in the WBA, WBO and WBC rankings. Alexander Ustinov would also be an interesting fight, albeit if they want to run the WBA gauntlet.
The New Zealand public, especially the New Zealand boxing community, want to see Joseph Parker and Junior Fa fight, but they don't want to see them fight pushovers. They want them to fight good quality opponents. New Zealand is providing a smorgasbord of mean, keen and hungry fighters. The more we see of Parker on NZ shores the more hope we have of showcasing up and comers such as David Light, Geovana Peres, Lani Daniels, Bowyn Morgan, Nort Beauchamp, Andrei Mikhailovich, Alrie Melesiea, Robert Berridge, Mose Auimatagi Jnr and heavyweight sensation Kiki Toa Leutele.