Joseph Parker is aiming to prove something to himself against Dereck Chisora in Manchester tonight.
The New Zealander, a former WBO heavyweight champion, tackles the British heavyweight warhorse for the second time in seven months and wants to bring back the old version of himself. When Parker burst on to the scene several years ago, we witnessed a southern hemisphere punisher who let his hands go at any opportunity and often excited the fans with his style and finishing. As the years have gone by the 29-year-old has become more reserved and resorted to a cautious approach.
Building up his reputation in New Zealand via trips to America and Germany was more straightforward thanks to the quality of opposition he was able to knock over. So, as the calibre of fighter got better you could see the aggression diminishing and soon began turning in performances that you wouldn’t go back and watch.
Tonight, Parker wants to return to his old ways against a man who will lick his lips at the very prospect of it.
“I know my fights haven’t been the best of late,” Parker admits to Boxing Social.
“There have been many factors why, but I think this is the perfect chance from now on till the rest of the fights that I have left to show more.
“I’ve shown a lot of myself in fights at the beginning of my career and then I became too cautious, too defensive. I throw good combinations and good punches together and I’ve gone away from that. I think with the new team, new environment, new training, new coach (Andy Lee) we will show something different. There was nothing wrong with the old training team, nothing wrong with what I had before but I needed something new. A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter. I feel very happy so I should be dangerous!”
The question is though why have the performance levels dropped? And why have levels of caution overtaken old methods that may be riskier but could have certainly brought greater rewards.
Parker explains: “When you’re fighting fighters that are powerful and strong you come up with a game plan of waiting and being a bit more defensive and then you counter. And maybe I have taken that style for too long. I need to get back to being aggressive, keep backing myself, having the confidence in my power and my speed and what I can do and go for it.”
The Parker-Chisora rematch is not one that the public were clamouring for as soon as the final bell sounded on May 1. Sure, the Brit felt aggrieved at the judges’ scorecards and believed he did more than enough to get the win, a stance which was taken in his loss to now unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. But Parker v Chisora 2? If it hadn’t happened, then there would have been no sighs of discontent from fans.
Usyk, Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte are all currently engaged in negotiations for either a rematch or in the case of Fury, the WBC champion, a mandatory defence against Whyte. In Parker’s opinion his own options were limited for his next fight after the victory against Chisora. He perhaps had his arm twisted as soon as he took to the mic to speak to Sky Sports post-fight when he was asked about facing ‘Del Boy’ again because of the narrow margins in his split decision win. Parker seemed open to going over old ground, and fighting the veteran bull on a Matchroom promotion live on DAZN will certainly fill the piggy bank quicker.
“I wanted to lock in a fight as soon as I could,” Parker says summing up why he chose Chisora again.
“But with Covid and the amount of fighters that Matchroom have I know they had to be fair to every fighter and put them on. I was on a waiting list. When the opportunity came to fight him again there was no other options out there. There was no other opportunities. And I thought because we agreed to give him the rematch, and because it was a close fight, like I said it would be a great opportunity to show more of what I can do. I know it’s a fight where people say, ‘Why take the fight again, you’ve beat him and there are other fights out there,’ but when the time came there was no other fights out there. There was no-one available to fight at that time, so we thought it was a great opportunity to show I’m a more improved fighter.”
Wanting to show more than what he did to get by against Chisora first time around was a recurring theme during his interview with Boxing Social.
“I know I’m the better fighter,” he says. “I’m younger, I’m hungry to keep learning, to keep winning and keep progressing as a fighter. I know he’s been in the game a long time and a lot of respect to what he’s achieved and the people he’s fought. He still thinks he can give it a go, but I feel that this is the chance to show something more and I know I can give more. The most important part is showing it on fight night. No matter what you do, or how you look in training or sparring, no matter how you feel, if you feel great it comes down to feeling great on fight night. Every fight you go into you want to make a statement.”
Back in March Parker surprised the boxing community when he announced his split from long-time trainer, and close friend, Kevin Barry. The former champion admitted at the time there was genuine sadness at the parting of ways, but the time felt right, and it was time to close a chapter on his career and begin another one.
The surprises from Team Parker less one continued when not long after he jumped on the plane to the U.K to team up with former middleweight champion and Kronk alumni Andy Lee. Their time spent together for the first Chisora fight, their opening test as a partnership, proved to be just enough to get the nod. This time around Parker is feeling the benefits of Lee’s teachings having practiced them day in day out with him for a full camp instead of a shortened one. Parker says he has noticed big differences in the preparations from May till now.
“My focus, the work that I’ve been putting in,” Parker says for example. “Taking in things that Andy’s teaching me and practicing them each day and making them become a habit. I can see a lot of benefits with this camp compared to the last camp. And that’s what excites me as a fighter. It’s the same fighter that I’m fighting, come off a close win but this is the perfect chance to show something different, something new.
“With the time I had with Andy in the first camp, it wasn’t a long time. No complaints, no excuses, it was a close fight with the time we’ve had. But going into this fight we’ve had a longer time so this should be a lot better. It should be a better performance than it was in the first fight.”
Listening to both men we should be treated to a much more entertaining encounter tonight. An increase from zero to 10,000 fans should certainly help matters in the return bout having had none in attendance last time at the same venue. Chisora as always is promising war and to take his opponent to that ‘place’ no fighter wants to go to. Parker sounds like he is more than happy to accommodate him. This time around he is coming for a fight rather than just finding a way to win.
“I am going to go out there and go hard,” Parker says.
“This time I want to fight. I want to be smart about it, but I want to fight more. There are many things we have worked on that we saw that were weaknesses of mine in the first fight and hopefully we can show we’ve worked on them and it’s going to be a lot better next time around.
“I need to give the best account of myself in fights from now on and moving forward otherwise what’s the point. So, I’m just going to be present as a fighter, be present for this event, and just give it everything.”