Joseph Parker thinks he’s in good shape ahead of Saturday’s Joe Joyce fight and says he’s boxing better now than he did four years ago when he was the WBO heavyweight champion of the world.
The New Zealand boxer, who will fight Joyce for the WBO interim title, says he’s gotten better since moving to trainer Andy Lee and training alongside WBC heavyweight king Tyson Fury.
Parker (30-2, 21 KOs) will face Fury’s colleague Englishman Joyce (14-0, 13 KOs) at the Manchester Arena, not far from where Parker trained in Fury’s hometown of Morecambe, on the northwest coast of England.
The winner will be first in line to fight WBO-WBA-IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk in 2023, provided the Ukrainian does not choose to face the WBC belt holder in his next fight after he recovers from his injury.
Ireland’s Lee, a prominent former middleweight champion who held the WBO title from 2014 to 2015, led Parker to a two-point victory over Derek Chisora last year, resurrecting the New Zealander’s career after losing points to Anthony Joshua for the WBA, IBF and Titles WBO world champion — and Dillian Whyte in 2018 ahead of a disappointing performance against Junior Fa in 2021.
“When I was [WBO] champion, I didn’t aspire to be a champion,” Parker, 30, told Sportzshala.
“If I could change something retroactively, I would because now I know what I could do as a champion. It’s all about learning and you have to go through these things in life.”
“I am a better fighter now than I was a champion because since then I have learned a lot about boxing and about myself. I’ve learned about nutrition and everything else it takes to be a better fighter, about being a better fighter, and I’m applying it all now.
Parker, who defended the WBO world title twice from 2016-2018, says he is also doing well, working alongside Fury, who is ranked No. 1 in the division after wins over Deontay Wilder and White. The pair train side by side but have not sparred.
“This is the third training camp with Andy and he was the best,” said Parker. “There was nothing wrong with my old team of Kevin Barry, but my performances were not the best and I felt like I just needed a change, a new environment that would give me that spark. Training with Andy brought excitement to boxing for me.”
Thanks to his friendship with Fury, Parker has set his sights on other potential opponents such as Usyk, who picked up a second consecutive points victory over Joshua in August.
“I also work out with Tyson at the gym,” Parker said.
“When Tyson is around, we go jogging together and also work out in the gym. He’s one of those characters that brings good vibes and it’s great to train with him. the best, it’s just a great environment to be in.
“I know that I have a high rating in the WBC, but Tyson is busy with his fights with Joshua, maybe Usyk,” said Parker. “Next I have Joyce and then a rematch in December, and in terms of fighting Tyson, I don’t think it’s even close. I don’t think there should have been a rematch with Joe Joyce – he’s not a champion, but his team thought it was necessary for him.”
Parker could take a big step towards a world title challenge in 2023 if he beats 37-year-old Joyce, the mandatory WBO title challenger.
“For a big man, Joyce moves pretty well with corners and he hits the body and head well,” Parker said. “He does get hit a little and he has a ruthless style. I can make this fight I can control, but if I’m not focused, I can make it hard.”
Also on the bill are seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano, who will take part in her first fight since losing to undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor when she attempts to unify the world featherweight titles against Sarah Mahfud.
Serrano (42-2-1, 30 KOs) from Puerto Rico, based in Brooklyn, New York, will defend his WBC and WBO titles against undefeated IBF champion Mahfood (11-0, 3 KOs) from Denmark.