Family at forefront for Kiwi-Pasifika boxers in 'Fight of the Century'

Family is at the forefront for Kiwi-Pasifika boxers, Joseph Parker and Junior Fa, as they prepare for their December heavyweight showdown in Auckland.

The Samoan and Tongan New Zealanders are all square at two wins a piece from their previous four meetings as amateurs, and they have plenty to fight for.

Junior Fa is all set for what's been billed as the 'Fight of the Century', but there's one person who will be missing from his corner - his dad and secondary trainer, Uaine Fa - who passed away due to cancer last year.

A Tongan-born amateur boxer in his youth and the biggest influence in Junior's career, Uaine Fa was the man resposible for his son's boxing career.

"He's the reason why I wanted to box because that's all I saw growing up was rugby, because of New Zealand, and boxing because of him. He always trained downstairs.

"I didn't realise how good he was until I went to Tonga for the first time, and people were telling me about him and then I was like 'oh this fella is actually pretty good, he's not just talking all this nonsense at home,'" he said.

Fa said his dad when he didn't have official training scheduled, he would be training with his father.

"He would teach me secret little combinations to throw for the fight and I'm just really grateful that I did have a father in a home that knew what he was talking about when it comes to the sport of boxing."

The 31-year-old, who carries his father's name, said the propect of fighting the former WBO World Champion was a regular conversation among his family members and he'd be excited to know the fight was finally here.

"That was a given you know. We always wished Joseph well with his profesisonal career because we knew my name was always going to be tied with him, so the higher he went, he's basically taken me with him."

"Throughout the years and watching him grow, we definitely knew we had to pick up our game because he was getting better and better. We knew this fight was going to come one day so I 've just had to train hard, get ready for the fight and now the opportunity is here and come December 12 I'll be ready."

The current WBO Oriental Interim Heavyweight title holder said his dad won't be far from his thoughts when he goes up against Parker next month.

"I'm sad my dad's not here to watch it, but I know he's with me and he would be really excited about this fight."

And it's a family affair for the Parker aiga too after Joseph confirmed his younger brother John, who has three light heavyweight fights under his belt, and cousin, two-time New Zealand middleweight champion, Mose Amiutangi, would also be fighting on the night.

"The undercard is going to be stacked as well with Polynesian boys. You've got my brother John Parker fighting, you've got my cousin Mose Auimatagi, and there's a few other boys on the card that I think will make a very exciting card," he said.

Both fighters grew up in South Auckland not far from each others and are even members of the same Mormon church.

Fa admitted he was only recently started to get noticed more in the community.

"There's always been history with me and Parker because we do have similiar backgrounds. When we were amateurs he was in Papatoetoe Stake and I was in Papakura Stake for our church and there was always that back and forth between Papatoetoe and Papakura and now we're going back at it again.

"We have very close toes within the community and actually the other day I went to the shop and I noticed a lot more people have been saying hi and that to me now, so I think I need to watch why I'm going to the shop and I can't be seen carrying out chocolates anymore," he quipped.

Parker and Fa said they're excited to represent their community on the world stage.

"As someone who is born in New Zealand with strong Samoan heritage, you want to fight hard and make your parents proud, your country proud and your people proud," said Parker.

"The Pacific community has always supported me and now we have myself and Junior fighting, we're both from south Auckland, we're both ranked top ten in the world and headlining this massive card in New Zealand so it's an incredible opportunity for both of us and everyone is coming together to support both of us."

"I take a lot of pride in being a Tongan boy, same as Parker as well, it's just a great chance for us to represent our family and our heritage, and to show the up and coming generation that you really can push the boundaries because sometimes I feel like we [Pasifika] limit ourselves quite a lot," said Fa.

"For me, this is a big occassion, being two island boys on it's own, and for the future of poly boys and poly girls who might be watching this and see there are two Pacific boys going at it and I'm thankful to have this opportunity."

9000 fans are expected to sell-out Spark Arena for the clash between the local rivals, with the bout which was originally confirmed for Friday 11 December, pushed back to the next day to cater to the worldwide audience and to allow communities outside of Auckland to travel to the event.


Photo caption: Joseph Parker (left) and Junior Fa (right)