Joseph Parker has announced big changes following his victory over fellow-New Zealander Junior Fa after making the difficult decision to switch trainers.
The former WBO heavyweight world champion has paid tribute to his long-time coach, Kevin Barry, following confirmation that the pair have agreed to amicably end their working relationship, bringing to a close a hugely successful eight-year partnership.
“Without Kevin, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Parker said.
“Together, we made it to the very top. Kevin was with me every step of the way, guiding my progress inside and outside the ring. So it is with genuine sadness that I confirm our partnership has come to an end.
“But the time feels right. It’s fitting that we closed this chapter of my career with a win in front of a great home crowd in Auckland and with bigger things just on the horizon.
“I know Kevin will always be in my corner.”
Barry is a former Olympic silver medalist among boxing’s elite trainers, having guided David Tua to a heavyweight title shot against Lennox Lewis, and then gone one better with Parker by capturing the WBO heavyweight strap with Parker’s victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Auckland in 2016.
“I’m hugely proud to have played a part in New Zealand and Samoa crowning their first heavyweight world champion,” Barry said.
“It has been an amazing journey with Joseph and Team Parker. But all journeys must come to an end, and the time is right for myself and Joseph to go in our own directions.
“I have been in New Zealand for five months now, away from my family and my other fighters. I have three guys fighting for world titles this year and have responsibilities with them and a few new guys.
“It’s not possible for me to stay in New Zealand any longer. Joe has a wife and three young girls in New Zealand. He wishes to spend more time here.
“I totally understand this and will always be in his corner and support him. We have always had a very close bond, and I want nothing but the best for him. We have achieved so much together. It has been one heck of an amazing journey.”
Parker’s manager David Higgins confirmed the split was by mutual agreement.
“With Kevin based in Las Vegas and Joseph keen to spend more time in New Zealand – and not to mention the restrictions on travel created by Covid-19 – this was a natural time for one of New Zealand’s most successful sporting partnerships to come to a close,” Higgins said.
“I’d personally like to pay tribute to Kevin. He worked tirelessly to make sure Joseph capitalised on his natural talent, and the results have been there for all to see. Kevin’s place in history as New Zealand’s finest boxing trainer is well and truly secure.”
The Parker-Barry partnership began with a victory over Brice Ritani-Coe in Irving, California, in May 2013. That win took a youthful Parker to 5-0.
His undefeated run with Barry continued for 19 fights. It included the historic victory over Ruiz Jr and title defenses against Hughie Fury and Razvan Cojanu before being halted by Anthony Joshua in Cardiff’s massive unification fight in 2018.
Even then, Parker created history by being the first fighter to take Joshua the 12-round championship distance.
Barry’s tenure as Parker’s head trainer ends on a high, with Parker riding a four-fight win streak that has seen him remain ranked well inside the top 10 by the WBO (3), IBF (7), and WBC (7) and firmly in contention for another world title challenge inside the next 18 months.