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Convicted criminal Richard Tutaki has insisted that he is not a bad person after being named as the opponent of promising New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker.
Tutaki will fight Parker at the Fight for Life charity boxing event at Trusts Arena in Auckland on December 15 but he hit the headlines this year after the Herald revealed he was in jail before the fight.
He was sentenced in February on four driving-related charges.
Tomorrow he is due to appear in Manukau District Court to face two charges of breaching community work and one of escaping from police custody. He is also to appear again on January 29 on an unrelated charge of possessing methamphetamine.
At the announcement of the fight in Auckland today the 34-year-old was asked whether the "good kid versus bad kid" aspect would help in the pay-per-view event's promotion.
"You can see it how you like. Good kid, bad kid, I see myself as a good kid anyway," he said. "It's media slander. They class me as a bad kid. If you know me as I know me, I'm not a bad person."
Tutaki said he would plead not guilty in court tomorrow.
For Parker, 20, it was another indication that his days as an amateur are long gone. He has had two professional fights - comfortable victories over Dean Garmonsway and Terry Tuteru - but Tutaki is a different prospect on several levels.
The "Tutaki Express" has fought 43 times for a 20-win, 22-loss, one-draw record. He has also slimmed down noticeably from before the Williams fight was cancelled.
Asked whether it was a "redemption fight" for him, Tutaki replied: "No I just see this as another fight against another opponent. The Sonny Bill fight - everyone knows how disappointed I was [it was cancelled]. It was shattering really, for my family but mainly for myself."
Tutaki, who has dropped from 116kg to 110kg in about a month, said he had been training hard.
Parker, at 105kg and a similar height to Tutaki at 192cm, said he wasn't concerned about his opponent's past.
"It's not something I worry about. I concentrate on the boxing side of things," he said.
He said of the step up from his last fight against Tuteru last month: "There's a big difference between Terry and Richard. The last fight, I won but there is still heaps to learn ... he caught me a couple of times. I felt them, but my fitness was good and I just took it on the chin and carried on."
"Richard's been in the game a long time so one of his main threats will be his experience. He's got a good reach too, we're both at a similar height."
Promotor Dean Lonergan said he was confident the fight would go ahead despite Tutaki's imminent court appearance.
"We'd like to think there's no risk but at the end of the day that's in a third party's hands so we'll just deal with that as it comes up," he said.