Zach Parker: Winning and waiting

Zach Parker (21-0, 15 KOs) will keep a close eye on Saul Alvarez’s WBA Super, WBC, WBO unification fight against IBF holder Caleb Plant on Saturday night as the Derby-based contender is currently the number one challenger for the WBO. Some have questioned whether he deserves this status, yet Parker has argued he has built himself up from small hall shows to the cusp of a world title shot and that he has earned his spot.

However, before the action switches to Las Vegas, Parker must get past Manchester’s Marcus Morrison (24-4, 16 early) in a WBO International title defence at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham, a fight that he hopes to win in style before seeing what happens with the WBO title. It will be his third fight since moving to promoter Frank Warren, who along with his manager, Neil Marsh, believes that he has struck Super middleweight goal with the 27-year-old. 

For his part, Parker has accepted that boxing isn’t just about what goes on in the ring or the politics around it, he has been more proactive with his media duties recently to increase his profile so when he joined Boxing-Social for a catch-up it was at the end of a long round of interviews, video snippets and other media commitments. It is a different type of role for the boxer, one that he now fully understands and hopes to hone with each successive fight.  

“I’m doing more interviews and some pundit work with BT now, they like me so I’m going to get into it more,” he said. “I can only be honest, give my opinion and say what I think, like in the Brad Foster fight (a decision loss against Jason Cunningham) — I thought Brad won that fight. 

“I’ve not bumped into anyone I’ve talked about yet, though. It is just what it is and is part of this job. You have to pay attention then give your opinion the best you can. I don’t think I’ll feel awkward about it the more of it I do.

“I did something with BT on Canelo and Plant with Steve Bunce recently,” he added. “I really enjoyed it. You are talking to someone who has been in that role in the game for a long time so you listen to them to make improvements and get on with it.” 

The outcome of Canelo-Plant could go a long way to deciding what is next for Parker. He is realistic about the prospect of having to fight for the vacant title either way yet told me that whatever happens his rating will land him a big name in the division sooner rather than later.  

“I think Canelo against Plant will be a good fight,” he said. “Plant has never lost, doesn’t know what it feels like and it is his biggest fight. The problem is that he’s never been tested by someone like Canelo so you never know how he’ll hold up. I’m looking at maybe a late stoppage. A lot will depend on Plant’s durability.” 

Parker will be a keen observer when Canelo and Caleb Plant clash tonight. Photo: Showtime Boxing

“Canelo has brought big fights against big names,” he continued when asked about the Mexican’s legacy. “It makes people watch the sport a lot more. He’s an excellent boxer and has been huge for boxing and Mexican boxing. Floyd retired, which left a big gap for a PPV star in America, so Canelo stepped in to become a huge name in America. Boxing needs those huge boxing nights with a big star. It is good for the sport.” 

The deal with Warren is bearing fruit already with two fights under his belt this year going into the Morrison one. It is a big improvement from his barren 2020 and 2019, when he only fought once a year, so he has told his fans and viewers to expect to see much more of his ability now that he is finally on a roll.    

“I didn’t get the backing from the Sauerlands before — I was inactive,” he said. “Signing with Frank through Neil is the best thing I’ve ever done. You are seeing how much BT are doing to get behind me. I can make time up, be on TV on big shows and I’m topping bills. Neil is good for all that type of stuff behind the scenes. He’s brave. I’m glad he’s with me as I wouldn’t want to go against him. You need that backing behind you. He’s one of the top boys in my tight inner circle. I keep my people quite close to me. 

“You see a lot of entourages in boxing. I like to keep it like a little family because you see these big entourages and wonder who pays for them all. Plus, you won’t speak to everyone, will you? You have your trainer and a few people around you in the ring and you can only listen to a few people at a time, so I don’t see the point. 

“I’m a family man and person so keep that on in boxing. You have your trainer, manager, promoter and a few other people. My friends leave me to it as well. They grew up watching and going to Derby (City FC) with me and they think that the team putting me out there at games is brilliant. They’re also delighted I’m on BT Sports. I’m getting more followers now, more people are getting behind me, but my friends keep my feet on the floor. 

“I have people around me who care about me as a person and a friend, they just don’t have input on my career. I’m from a close-knit circle and don’t make out I’m the best thing in the world. If you do that you set yourself up for criticism if you lose, and I don’t want to go down that road.” 

Morrison, though, will be hoping to throw a huge spanner into the works. “Sweet MNM” has had his ups and downs yet is now one fight and win away from securing a good scalp and the possibility of a WBO ranking.   

A decision loss to Chris Eubank Jr. over 10 halted in May ended a seven-fight run of form, but he registered a win over the ever-reliable Lewis van Poetsch in August and in Parker’s mind this is a dangerous fight given what he is putting on the line.  

“Every fight is dangerous, but especially when you are close to a world title, it means you have to switch on for every second,” he said. “Marcus lost to Jason Welborn and Tyan Booth then made his way back up and got himself better. I was excited when they made this fight because I believe I can show people what I’ve got against a British opponent who people know more about. 

“Marcus will put everything he has into this. I know what I can do with my skills. I’ve been waiting for this. People like (last opponent) Sherzod Khusanovand are tough, but who knows them? People know Marcus so I want to put in an impressive performance to show why people rate me so highly.

“We just wait and see what happens, maybe the Canelo-Plant winner vacates so if he does there are options like Danny Jacobs and David Lemieux in the rankings,” he said when asked what comes next. “All we can do is go into the Morrison fight, get a win and wait. 

“I’ve been in this sport a long time. I’ve been in it for cracking fights. I know my ability and qualities, but you might have to wait and wait for a big fight — you just make sure you are ready for it when it comes along. Marcus will want this win, I want it and need it, so we could produce a fight of the year candidate if he brings it the way I want to bring it.”