EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Parker explains how joining forces with Tyson Fury has made him ‘more confident than ever’ as he details speaking to the Gypsy King about mental health having struggled himself after becoming world champion in 2016
- Joseph Parker fights Joe Joyce in an intriguing heavyweight clash this weekend
- The heavyweight is on a run of six consecutive wins heading into the fight
- Parker says he’s more confident than ever and credits much of that to Tyson Fury
- The New Zealander has become a core member of the Fury camp in recent years
Joseph Parker heads into this weekend’s enticing heavyweight clash against Joe Joyce feeling more confident than he ever has – and the former champion credits much of that to Tyson Fury.
After falling to back-to-back defeats to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte in 2018, Parker has rebuilt by claiming six straight victories and now once again stands on the periphery of world level, with the impending clash being for the interim WBO heavyweight title.
Parker has looked much-improved in his two latest outings, being points wins over Derek Chisora, having appointed Fury’s assistant coach, Andy Lee, as his trainer last year on the Gypsy King’s recommendation.
Joseph Parker (right) takes on Joe Joyce (left) in an intriguing heavyweight clash on Saturday
Parker is feeling the most confident he ever has and credits much of that to Tyson Fury (right) and trainer Andy Lee (centre)
But it’s not just Fury’s coach Parker has adopted. The New Zealander has spent the bulk of the last two years living in Fury’s hometown of Morecambe, using the same gym, sparring partners, nutritionist and even masseuse.
In fact, Parker stayed at Fury’s house prior to his first encounter against Chisora and is now even known around the area as ‘Morecambe Joe’.
And as the heavyweight contender prepares for what he anticipates to be a supremely tough encounter against Joyce – one he insists he can win within the distance – Parker has explained why joining forces with Fury has proven to be such a turning point in his career.
‘More than ever,’ Parker told Sportsmail, asked just how confident he’s feeling. ‘I’ve had a great camp. With each camp it’s just building on what we’ve already been working on.
‘When you surround yourself with guys like Andy Lee as a coach and Tyson Fury, who’s always around, my brother’s also here and we’ve got an undefeated fighter from Ireland [Paddy Donovan], the whole environment is a great one to be in. That only helps with confidence heading into a fight.’
‘They’re winners,’ he continued, ‘but also a group of people who are mentally strong. If you take Andy, for example, he was the champion of the world, and to go into the fights he had – he had a lot of knockouts – you have to be mentally strong.
‘To be a good fighter you have to be mentally strong but there’s another level you can take it to. Tyson’s ahead of the game at the moment and having him around helps not only myself but everyone else around the camp.’
Parker has become a core member of Fury’s Morecambe-based camp in the last two years
The heavyweight has become known as ‘Morecambe Joe’ having spent almost two years living in the town
Parker is now loving boxing again after claiming back-to-back wins over Derek Chisora
Parker is now overwhelmingly positive about his future in boxing, enjoying each and every training session and seeing a clear route to another world title shot ahead.
That hasn’t always been the case, however, particularly after Parker won the WBO world title in 2016 with victory over Andy Ruiz Jr.
Parker claimed one of the two belts Fury had vacated following his win over Wladimir Klitschko the year prior. But for Parker, like Fury, finally realising his dream of becoming a champion proved not to be as rewarding as he had expected.
‘It was after I won the championship of the world,’ Parker said of his struggles. ‘I’d accomplished my goal and I wasn’t really as fulfilled or as happy about being champion as I thought I would be.
‘I did want to be champion, but I was doing it to make other people happy. For myself, but for others as well.
‘I wasn’t enjoying it; there was no smile. Maybe on the outside there is a smile, but on the inside you’re not really enjoying it.
‘There’s no fulfilment and you’re there just to be there. You’re in the gym just to put in the work, but not really doing the work. It’s like doing something but not doing something. I was just going through the motions really and not appreciating it or being happy doing it, as I am now.’
Parker beat Andy Ruiz Jr in 2016 to become New Zealand’s first heavyweight world champion
Parker, who remained silent about his struggles at the time, now admits that he had other career paths outside of boxing he could have turned to.
The 30-year-old has made the right decision in sticking with boxing, however, insisting: ‘Now I feel excited again; I love it. I enjoy training. I’ve got my passion for it again, even more than before. Now, I’m going into do it for me. For my kids, too, but mostly for me.’
But it wasn’t until conversations with Fury that Parker actually started to understand what it was he had been going through.
‘We have spoken about it,’ he said. ‘Listen, it was very similar, what we went through, pretty much the same thing really.
‘The only difference is that he stopped boxing and it was all over the media, whereas I kept on boxing and kept it real quiet. I didn’t really speak about it.
‘The more I speak to Tyson, him being an advocate of mental health, and just comparing the stories and having very similar stories, we might have had the same thing without really understand it or knowing what it was.
‘It could have been mental health, I’m not sure. I didn’t really know why, and I’m still not sure what it was.’
Parker admits he didn’t understand his situation until speaking to Fury about mental health
The New Zealander is now pushing for a rematch with Dillian Whyte should he beat Joyce
With his love for boxing back, Parker is now fully focused on the task at hand as he prepares to face Joyce on Saturday.
Joyce has a rematch clause in place should he lose, meaning Parker will have to beat him twice if he’s to go on and fight for a world title.
However, there is one particular opponent the heavyweight is also desperate to fight.
‘Dillian Whyte,’ he said, asked who he’d ideally want next. ‘I’d love to avenge that loss. It was a close fight. I’ve been calling for a rematch ever since. He’s fought different fighters and did well. He’s also had a few losses.
‘I saw an interview recently where he said he wants to avenge his loss against Joshua and that Joshua should give him that rematch, but I’ve been calling for one and he hasn’t given it to me.
‘It would be a great fight, but first I’ve got to beat Joyce twice, and then I’ll take any fight – but Whyte is first on the list.’
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