By Ron Jackson
Former IBF heavyweight champion the 44-year-old Francois Botha faces a novice in 21-year-old Joseph Parker from New Zealand over eight rounds at the Trusts Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday night. On paper this is more like a circus event rather a boxing match as Botha who has been fighting as a professional for more than 22 years, made his pro debut before Parker was born.
Parker has only had five fights as a professional against Dean Garmonsway (2-1), Terry Tuteru (0-9-1), Richard Tutaki (20-22-1), Dontay Pati (0-1) and Brice Ritani-Coe (pts 6), winning four of the five inside the distance.
I doubt if there are many boxing fans out there who have ever heard of the aforementioned opponents. Botha made his pro debut on February 11, 1990 against Johan van Zyl and won on a first round knockout. In an illustrious career Botha who has a record of 48-9-3-1nc; 28 has been with some of the best heavyweights in the world.
Even though he has only won one of his last six fights since April 2010 and is well past his best he still has enough skills to survive in the ring and knows all the tricks of the trade.
Botha has power in his right hand and staying power as he showed against the super fit All Black rugby player Sonny Bill Williams in February this year when he had Williams holding to survive in the tenth and final round.
It has been reported that Parker was a good amateur but there is a vast difference professional boxing and amateur boxing.
Botha has gone through 360 rounds in the pro ring whereas Parker has only 13, and the only thing in his favour will be his youth.
Before Botha gloves up he will be watching his son Marcel who is making his pro debut taking on Australian welterweight Jeremy Sebastian 0-1 over 4 rounds in the first fight of the night.