Lupesoliai Joseph Parker penned quite an interesting piece this week, ahead of his latest fight against Alexander Flores tonight.
Published under the headline “Now I know who’s got my back,” it was quite telling.
Gone are the days of Lupesoliai being one of the most sought after boxers in the heavyweight division when he held the WBO belt. The glitz and glamour that came with his fight against Anthony Joshua is also clearly becoming a distant memory.
Today, here is a man whose back is up against the wall.
The boxing world not only wants him to win but win well. They are screaming for a knock-out performance, something Parker has been incapable of delivering in his last couple of bouts.
Come to think of it, after having held the world heavyweight title and having reached the dizzying heights of fighting against the best in the world, he could have easily walked away from it all.
He’s probably made a decent amount of money – we’re talking millions here - where he can live off comfortably and raise his young family.
But he’s not stopping, he’s not slowing down and rightly so.
Two defeats against two of the best boxers in the world in Joshua and Whyte is no disgrace at all. It’s a sign of Lupesoliai’s character and motivation that he is continuing his journey, one where we hopefully get to see him enjoy those dizzying heights once more.
Tonight, he’s back in the ring in front of Kiwis and many Samoans in New Zealand. Call it a level down from what he has been used to but it’s probably just what he needs to get his head in the right space, restore his confidence in his ability to box.
Which brings us to the piece he wrote earlier this week. It was beautiful, worth revisiting.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself this year and I’ve learned a lot about the people around me. There’s nothing like a loss or two to bring a reality check. It’s been a new situation for me and my team and I believe we are well positioned to turn this adversity into a positive fresh start,” he writes.
“It’s times like these that you really see who has got your back for life, the true friends and supporters. There are others who you realise actually wanted to see you fall. There are always going to be critics out there, it goes with the territory in this toughest of sports. But I can handle them because I am my own toughest critic.
“Trust me, there has been a ton of soul-searching going on over the past few months. I can’t remember so much analysis and discussion – open, honest and often brutal conversations about how we can now make the best out of a difficult situation. It’s important to self critique otherwise you get too comfortable and where do you improve?
“I know I have to improve because the heavyweight division is the strongest it has been for a long time. I’m confident I’m still in the elite mix but my position now puts me just out of the title talk.
“As a professional athlete who has been at the top, that hurts. But it’s also hugely motivating. I can assure you I’m hungrier than ever.
“I learned some tough lessons in both defeats, particularly against Whyte. So I appreciate Flores for fronting and he comes to New Zealand with tons of confidence and demanding respect with a decent record. As the great Mike Tyson said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I plan to punch Flores very hard and very accurately. Get the job done and then we can start planning for bigger things.”
Well here’s the thing Lupesoliai, as you prepare for tonight, we want you to know that we are still behind you, cheering you on all the way. We come from a small country with limited resources and global success is a rarity. You have made Samoa proud and we will always remember that.
So go on and do what you do best. If by any chance, you lose and decide to walk away, we will understand. But you will always be our champion. O ou mama na.
Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!