Kevin Barry has seen most things in his long career in boxing, but never a moment like the one he witnessed slack-jawed before Joseph Parker’s unsuccessful heavyweight unification bout against Anthony Joshua earlier this year.
As the Parker camp dig their heels in over the presence of a WBC-nominated judge they consider to be short of the mark required for Saturday night’s widely anticipated clash against Dillian Whyte at the O2 Arena (Sunday morning NZT), Barry has provided a timely reminder of the fallout that can arise from inept officiating.
Italian referee Giuseppe Quartarone was widely panned by critics for his handling of the Joshua fight, and in particular for his refusal to allow Parker to engage inside against the longer-reached Brit. Many believed his bizarre decision-making prevented a decent fight breaking out.
Neither Parker nor his trainer Barry blamed the referee’s performance for a defeat which saw the New Zealander fail to take the fight to the big Brit as much as he needed to.
But it clearly still rankles, with Barry previously labelling the Italian a “muppet” and unleashing his latest broadside during the leadup to the Whyte contest that could make or break the Kiwi’s career.
The veteran Las Vegas-based trainer unleashed on Quartarone’s performance, with his eccentricities highlighted in a documentary on the fight that aired in New Zealand recently.
Barry said the Italian “fanned out” when he came into Parker’s dressing-room before the fight and felt the doco, titled Joseph Parker: Metamorphosis, had revealed a series of bizarre goings-on before one of the biggest fights in the world for the year.
“It was shameful that we had two English-speaking world champions, we had the first unification heavyweight fight in boxing for eight years and the biggest fight ever on UK soil and you put in a guy who was completely out of his depth.
We should have had one of the foremost refs in world boxing officiating that fight.”
Barry’s latest tirade came after he had declared his satisfaction with the appointment of experienced British official Ian John-Lewis to referee this weekend’s matchup against Whyte which promoter David Higgins has termed the most important of Parker’s career.
“At this level there are always little things behind the scenes,” said Barry. “What really brought it out into the open, and opened a lot of people’s eyes, was the recent doco we showed in New Zealand. The New Zealand public had no idea what was going on with that fight.
“They had no idea that Joshua was caught in his dressing-room smashing the padding of his glove, and my son had to bring the supervisor from that dressing-room out for me to tear into him.
“They had no idea they had one of Joshua’s guys sitting in our dressing-room saying you will not be able to use that afterwrap on Joe’s hands … just messing with us … of course we were allowed to use it.
“They had no idea we had a referee when he came into our dressing-room…. the first thing he wanted to do was ‘photo, photo, photo’, and put his arm around Joe and get his photo taken. I am like ‘are you kidding me?’ This guy fanned out. This guy is in charge of the biggest heavyweight fight in eight years. And ‘photo, photo’.
When he finished his pigeon English thing, I said my fighter has got a 76in reach, Joshua has got 84in, when we do work inside are you going to let us work? He couldn’t understand.”
Barry felt the fly-on-the-wall doco would have opened some eyes around what went on in the fight scene.
“They think it’s all plain sailing, and it’s not at all like that. That’s only some examples. There are a lot of other things, a lot of things you can’t show on a doco. This is a rough sport.”
Barry and Parker will be hoping that their clash against respected power puncher Whyte passes without incident or controversy.
It’s too big a moment in Parker’s career to have officialdom wielding an undue influence.