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-After a respectful build-up, a long, intense stare down said everything you need to know about Saturday's all-Kiwi heavyweight blockbuster at Spark Arena.
Joseph Parker and Junior Fa mean business.
“It has always felt real but both of us needed to let everyone know that this is a fight at the end of the day," Fa told Stuff after weighing-in at 118.1kg, almost 10kg heavier than the former WBO world champion.
“The talk about the build-up has been how it's too nice. Both of us know that we are civil towards to each other but at the end of the night we're there to rip each other's heads off. And that stare down was just to let both of us know that, bro, I'm coming to knock you out.”
While a confident Fa (19-0) mouthed a few words towards his fellow South Aucklander, Parker remained silent as the pair stood face-to-face on stage for what seemed an age at a packed bar on Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.
Having grown up in the same area, attended the same church and fought against each other as amateurs, Parker and Fa have left the verbal sparring to their respective team members and made sure to shake hands after the face-off.
Both declined to reveal what was said on stage, but Parker agreed it was just the ticket to set the tone for what is arguably the biggest domestic bout in New Zealand history.
“Now it's time. I can't wait,” he said.
“He was saying a few things. To be honest, I didn't hear what he said. But we both really want this fight.”
Parker tipped the scales at 108.9kg, 2kg lighter than his most recent bout against Shawndell Winters 12 months ago.
While the 29-year-old is the heavy favourite heading into the bout with a significant edge in experience, the key physical attributes all favour Fa.
Along with the weight disadvantage, Parker is giving away 11cm in reach and 3cm in height. However, he was more than happy with how he measured up against his opponent.
“I've been training hard for a good weight and my body feels good,” Parker added. “The stare down was good, it was intense and it shows that he's ready and confident, I'm ready and confident.
“I know what I want to do. I just have to go out and show it.”
Fa, a regular and respected sparring partner to former WBC champion Deontay Wilder, has yet to taste to defeat in 19 pro bouts but this is the first time he's met anyone close to the top tier of the division.
After an undergoing an undisclosed operation late last year that forced a postponement from the original December 12 date, Fa insists he's more than ready to make the big step up.
“I feel a lot better. I'm performed a lot better in this camp as opposed to the last date,” he said.
“The training is done, the talking is done, and I'm good to go.”
Meanwhile, after a dispute between the camps over the judges, Fa's manager Mark Keddell confirmed Auckland duo Greg Burgess and Andrew Bell, and Paul Fitzsimons from Christchurch, would be the three ring-side officials.
John Conway, also from Auckland, will be the referee for the main event.
Among the key undercard bouts, two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist David Nyika weighed in at 90.4kg for his pro debut against cruiserweight Jesse Maio, who came in at 85.7kg.
In the penultimate bout of the night, Hemi Ahio (104.6) will have to overcome a massive 44kg weight advantage to Julius Long (148.2) as he looks to extend his perfect record to 17-0.
SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS
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