Inside Kevin Barry’s gym just outside Las Vegas, Joe Goodall is lying on a mat with a rising Slovakian boxer standing over him.
Rep after rep, set after set, Gabriel Kocsis slams a 20-pound medicine ball into Goodall’s abdominals.
“Harder,” Goodall screams.
Besides him, Barry counts up to 20 as one after the other the ball prepares him for the blows he is about to cop. Just across from the pounding he is copping, a mural of Tyson Fury, who trains in the gym regularly, looks over the ring.
Watch Heavyweights Justis Huni vs Joseph Goodall battle for the WBO Oriental and IBF Pan-Pacific Regional titles. Wednesday 15 June from 7PM AEST LIVE with Main Event on Kayo Sports & Foxtel. ORDER NOW >
At the time of writing this, it’s one week before Goodall leaves Nevada and three weeks until the 29-year-old squares up against an old sparring partner, Justis Huni, in Brisbane on June 15 in what shapes as one of the biggest heavyweight fights on Australian shores in a century.
In a high stakes bout, the winner will move inside the top 15 of three organizations effectively meaning they will move onto the highway to a world title fight.
For the loser, it will be back to the stop-start nature of climbing one’s way up the slow, grinding path of the multiple organizations across the world.
Just below the McCullough Ranges in Nevada, Aussie-born Goodall sets off on his morning run.
On the pavement by 5:30am, Goodall ran five miles before most had moved out of bed. Already it’s hot, with temperatures nudging 40 degrees Celsius by the middle of the day.
Then it’s back to bed, with rest paramount between sessions.
As soon as you walk into Barry’s house, one thing stands out: boxing.
There’s two belts as you enter the house, with one of them being Joe Parker’s – the New Zealand heavyweight who spent more than six years living in the house in Henderson.
Even after winning millions, the New Zealand heavyweight star lived at the Barrys.
why? Proven success, and a family-oriented house.
Barry’s wife, Tanya, was a gymnastics star and the pair met at the 1984 Olympics. She then set up high performance programs across Australia and worked in the USA in gymnastics too.
For the past two decades, the duo have had international boxers live with them.
At times, there have been as many as five heavyweights living with them from Russia and Italy to New Zealand.
“Joe Parker, he came to us as a young guy, so he did a lot of his early adulthood with us and we’ve bonded with his family,” Tanya Barry said.
“When Joe just had his new baby, he sent a picture immediately. We still have that relationship.
“He always says he’s the favorite child, my favorite child, I’m not saying that’s true but that’s what he says.”
The set-up Goodall has walked into has been dealing with high performance for four decades and it’s all run within a mile of each other.
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It’s why Goodall is quickly re-emerging onto the boxing scene after years of being dormant.
“One of the great things that he’s had to learn is just how important rest and recovery is,” Barry said.
“He never understood it enough, but he knows now that he can’t function and his body can’t recover if you don’t shut it down.
“For a guy that, really, didn’t know what he was going to do and was close to chucking it and he’s really made a big play for the best Joseph Goodall to turn up on June 15.”
By 11am, Goodall was in the gym.
After a long warm-up including skipping, ladders, Goodall is in the ring and working on his technique. With him inside is Barry, the 1984 Olympic Games silver medalist who controversially won on disqualification against Evander Holyfield, who continues to put Goodall through his peace.
On the back wall is a mural of Tyson Fury.
The Gypsy King is well-known by the Barrys, with Kevin’s son Taylor – a boxing trainer, who works heavily with players from the Las Vegas Raiders and had an exceptional American football schoolboy career before injuries curtailed it – recently in Fury’s corner.
Had Barry opted to drop the rest of his boxers years ago, including Joseph Parker, it is more than like Fury would have linked up with the New Zealanders years ago.
Next to the ring, Goodall moves down to the bags and it is there that his immense power is revealed.
Following the 90 minute session, Goodall returns back to the Barrys, which is less than a mile from the gym.
He immediately gets into the water to aid his recovery, but it is there that he also engages in holding his breath for as long as possible. He’s under water not just for seconds, but minutes.
It’s all about building his lung capacity, with the benefits wide ranging from aiding muscle recovery to increasing one’s stamina and oxygen to the brain.
Following lunch, which consists of rice and vegetables, and another snooze, it’s back to the gym.
On Thursday (local time), it’s more of the same but also one of Goodall’s last sparring sessions.
Rather than facing another heavyweight, of which has sparred approximately 250 rounds over the past six months including against Fury’s chosen one Jared Anderson, Goodall is preparing for what is to come against some cruiserweights.
Knowing Huni’s strength is speed over power, Goodall is fine tuning himself for what he is to come.
“We’ve had Jared Anderson, who Tyson brings for every training camp, he’s the one that everyone thinks is going to be the next American heavyweight, come in,” Barry said.
“Joe’s done a bunch of rounds with him, we’ve probably sparred Joe Joyce five or six times … we’ve sparred a lot of good guys, quality sparring that you find out a lot about yourself and he’s held himself really good .
“The last three or four weeks I’ve focused on cruiserweights for more punches, faster guys, which is obviously the thing to come.”
Goodall admits navigating and dealing with Huni’s speed will be crucial, too.
“Does he have an advantage with speed? I’d humbly say yes,” Goodall said.
“But there’s a lot of other things that I have an advantage, too.
“I believe I’m a more well-rounded fighter. I can fight on the inside, outside, mid-range and I have more power – it’s definitely going to be a spectacle. He throws different combinations, he has a different work-rate, speed, and so do I. It’s a very unique, high-level stylistic match-up.”
While Huni is likely to be the favorite for their showdown next month, Goodall can’t be written off.
For Barry, too, it’s high stakes.
“I have too much pride to embarrass myself, but I’m not the one throwing the punches,” he said.
“I know Joe’s in good shape, I know how hard he’s trained and just how beneficial these extra few months have been. This has given us a much better window of opportunity.
“It would not surprise me if these guys were to fight each other a few times.”
Watch Heavyweights Justis Huni vs. Joseph Goodall battle for the WBO Oriental and IBF Pan-Pacific Regional titles. Wednesday 15 June from 7PM AEST LIVE with Main Event on Kayo Sports & Foxtel. ORDER NOW >