By Robert Lowe
Joseph Parker's camp is expecting the up-and-coming heavyweight to show his increased boxing maturity when he looks to add a New Zealand title to his unbeaten record.
The 21-year-old, who has won his six bouts so far, five by knock-out, will challenge for the NZNBF crown against holder Afa Tatupu in Auckland on Thursday night.
Trainer Kevin Barry says Parker has made big strides since stopping South African Frans Botha in the second round of a scheduled eight-rounder in June.
Barry says he worked on the fundamentals with Parker when the pair linked before the fight against the far more experienced Botha.
"This time, I've been able to introduce a lot more to his game," he said.
"He has far more weapons now."
Barry said the greater armoury included a bigger choice of punching combinations, a better awareness of how to set them up and greater general ringcraft.
He said the improvements had been evident not just in the 130 rounds of sparring Parker had done.
"He also shows it in the confidence that he speaks to people now," he said.
"Now he's starting to understand the game, which makes him a more confident person."
The highly-rated Parker will go in as the definite favourite against his fellow Aucklander.
But although Tatupu's record reads a modest 9-4, he has shown his punching ability with seven knock-outs.
"For me, I'll just treat it as another fight," the 33-year-old said.
"He's got the speed, I know that, and he's got power. I just have to focus and see what I can do."
While Tatupu holds the NBF title, dual rugby and league international Sonny Bill Williams has the rival NZPBA crown.