WBO Champ Joseph Parker "Beating Hughie could Entice Tyson Revenge"
Joseph Parker talks to Livefight
By Michael J Jones
WINNING A WORLD title in boxing is tough but hanging onto that hard-earned belt is even tougher. On May 6th, WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker makes the first defence of his title against talented Englishman Hughie Fury in Auckland. Though most see Fury, the younger cousin of Tyson, as an underdog, team Parker are preparing hard and are respectful of the threat Fury could pose the new champion.
Since his pro début five years ago, Parker has impressed both in his activity of fighting regularly and also the way he has dealt with many potentially-dangerous foes. With hand-speed, power in each hand and a sharp jab, Parker at just 25-years-old is already one of the best heavyweights in the world.
Livefight spoke to Joseph Parker yesterday to discuss his bout with Hughie Fury and found the champion in a quietly-confident mood ahead of his first defence.
“Camp has been very good this time and we've had a good variety of sparring” the New Zealander tells Livefight from his base in Las Vegas. “I've watched a few of Hughie Fury's fights on YouTube and, although people will see my quality of opposition as superior to Fury's, this is still a dangerous fight and we're not taking it lightly.”
Now 22-0 (18), Parker was crowned the WBO champion last December after a tougher-than-expected points victory over Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr. The co-challenger provided a stern test, showing fast hands and a hectic work-rate that defied his rotund physical appearance.
“Looking back at that fight with Ruiz, it was a very tough match between two very hungry guys” reflects the champion five months on from the contest. “People underestimated him as he's a big guy but he brought speed and pressure that night. We had a few problems in that camp with things popping up so that let our preparation down a little bit but we always knew Andy would be a tough fight.”
The gifted Parker was a glittering amateur and didn't hang around when he turned over in 2012. In just his sixth fight he knocked out former world champion Frans Botha, in his very next contest he boxed for his first pro belt. By the following year he was taking on, and dispatching, fringe contenders such as Brian Minto and Sherman Williams before moving from prospect to contender while keeping a frenetic schedule.
The streaking heavyweight won all five fights by knock-out in 2015 and kept up the same level of activity last year. Before Ruiz, Parker saw off four victims including the feared Carlos Takam and hulking German Alexander Dimitrenko to show he meant business in the heavyweight division.
“It was always our intention to keep busy and fight often” the 25 year old comments on his heavyweight apprenticeship. “Now as champion we'll probably fight three times a year. Boxing all year through takes it out of your body as you're continuously training and the body doesn't get a break.”
“I'm hoping to get three meaningful fights a year now but I'm not looking past Hughie Fury.”
The 6'6” former amateur stand-out Fury is currently 20-0 (10) and exploded onto the heavyweight scene just as Parker had until a rare skin condition scuppered his progress in the last two years. Indeed the 22 year old boxed just twice last year, out-pointing aged veteran Dominick Guinn before winning an unconvincing technical decision against the rugged Fred Kassi a month later. He will be taking on Parker off the back of almost a year's inactivity but has been talking a good fight in the build-up.
“From what I've seen of him he's a tall and rangy guy and I've been able to see his style and what he does well. He's in much the same position Tyson Fury was before did the unthinkable and beat Wladimir Klitschko so his team has done this before and will be very confident of doing so again.”
“He's got height and reach on me so I've got to apply pressure and mix up my attacks. We don't know what his tactics will be but we've got our game-plan so we'll see if he does what he usually does or brings something different on the night.”
“It will be important to mix up my attacks; it's got to be body-head, body-head constantly changing my attack.”
Although the WBO ruler is adamant he is not looking past his next challenger, “Gentleman Joe” realises that a win over the younger Fury could entice Tyson Fury to a potential match and revenge mission.
“I'm fighting Hughie and if I beat him I think Tyson would want to come back and try and get revenge. He'd want to also try and regain his old title and I'd welcome that fight. I've got huge respect for Tyson Fury as he beat the long-reigning, dominant heavyweight champion and started bringing some excitement back to the division.”
After several years of the big men being dictated by the iron fists of the Klitschko brothers, the heavyweights appear to be finally coming back to life with three young, undefeated champions (Parker, Joshua and Wilder), plus Tyson Fury embarking on a comeback and some decent prospects coming through the ranks.
“It's great to be a part of the division now, it's so much more intriguing than two or three years ago. I'm a champion now but there's still a lot of hard work to do and I've much to learn. I look forward to the next few years and featuring in the big fights the division is promising.”
One rival team Parker are interested in facing soon is WBC champion Deontay Wilder. The two men met recently after Wilder stopped late-sub Gerald Washington in Birmingham, Alabama to discuss a potential unification bout between the two champs.
“We were there to support (stable-mate) Izvagbe Ugonah, unfortunately we didn't get the win (Ugonah was stopped in a thriller by former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale). We had a good talk and both teams are very keen to make the fight. They see where we are coming from in wanting to make the important fights and it could happen after this next one.”
“Fights like this are all about sitting down and putting it together where everyone is happy but the signs are good we can do the deal. I've seen him close up now and that was good to see his strengths from ringside.”
Parker's coach Kevin Barry indicated to Livefight recently that training for the new champion has been stepped up since his world title victory and the team have been working on new things ahead of the Auckland defence.
Joseph remains coy when asked to divulge what he's been working on...
“We've made a few changes and we've already felt the benefits to myself and it's helped in the completion to my camp. I've full faith in all my coaches and I trust them totally and what we've been working on and look forward to showing it against Hughie Fury.”
“I just want to thank my team and all of my supporters especially my fans in New Zealand. After this I want to take on the best fights in the world.”
Livefight would like to thank both coach Kevin Barry and Joseph Parker for talking to us just two weeks before the fight with Hughie Fury.