Sport | Boxing

Deontay Wilder’s team look after Junior Fa

Tongan Junior Fa will be the opening fight of the night in boxing’s most lucrative showdown on December 23 - the ‘Day of Reckoning’

Junior Fa and Deontay Wilder after their sparring sessions in Alabama.

The ‘Day of Reckoning’ is tipped to have the most top-ranked fighters on one boxing card on December 23.

It will be Saudi Arabia’s most lucrative fighting event and will take place at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The opening fight will feature Tongan heavyweight Junior Fa, who looks forward to throwing his hands in the ring again after 12 months of no fights.

“It looks as if the heavyweight division is sliding towards Saudi Arabia because we had the Tyson Fury fights there, and we had Anthony Joshua Ruiz there as well.

If this is the biggest card the world has ever seen, it’s awesome to see what the future is going to look like as well,” he says.

The Papakura resident is training in Alabama with former world champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder as his sparring partner.

‘It hurts’

Wilder, who is training for his curtain raiser event against Samoan Joseph Parker is testing Fa’s chin in terms of how hard he can be punched.

“If he (Wilder) lands one on you it hurts.

“Back home our country is small, so it’s just a bit hard to get quality sparring partners. When I can get quality sparring and get paid for it, while prepping for my fight, it’s just a win-win.”

Although Fa does not have his City Kickboxing management team with him, he says Wilder’s team looks after them well.

He takes them to dinner every few nights and provides money to help them live comfortably while training.

Fa, who has dropped out of the top 15 rankings, aims to get back on when he fights eighth-ranked Cuban Frank Sanchez.

Sanchez, who has an undefeated professional record of 23 wins, will size up against Fa. who has won 22 fights with two losses.

The 34-year-old says, with the short training in this time frame, he will be boxing smart against his opponent, who has a familiar style to the great “Iron” Mike Tyson.

Maybe six flags

“I’m not fooling myself, I know I can’t be slick against this guy.

“I’m planning to go in there and use my size, use my reach, and use everything that I can to get on top of him,” he says.

The Tongan community is proudly known for waving their country’s flag during any event they feel warrants it.

They are known for packing the streets of Otāhuhu in Auckland with cars and costumes decorated with their red cross flag.

Fa hinted it may potentially be seen as one to support.

“ I really haven’t thought about that. I haven’t thought that far ahead but, who knows, maybe I will come out with a couple of flags.

Probably at least six flags because I’m Tongan,” he says.

It will be the first time Fa will travel to the largest Middle Eastern country.

From there, he looks to win to line him up for bigger opportunities, fights, and paychecks to help him support his family.