Former WBO heavyweight king Joseph Parker is looking to settle his long-term rivalry with fellow Kiwi and amateur foe Junior Fa and inch closer to another world title shot at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday.

Parker (27-2, 21 KOs) returns to the Auckland venue for the first time since claiming the WBO crown against Mexican-American Andy Ruiz just over four years ago. Having lost that title in a unification clash with Anthony Joshua in 2018 and subsequently suffering a narrow points defeat to Dillian Whyte, Parker is plotting a return to the heavyweight summit.

But first he needs to settle an 11-year old rivalry with long-time amateur nemesis Junior Fa (19-0, 10 KOs). With two wins apiece from their amateur days, the WBO’s No.3 rated contender Parker is well aware of the task ahead of him, but insists he’s a different proposition these days.

“Junior’s a tough fighter,” said Parker. “I’ve known this from our amateur days and I always knew our paths would cross again. He’s undefeated and poses a real threat to my hopes of becoming a two-time heavyweight world champion. 

“But I’ve been up against the best and I’ve performed on the big occasions, and these experiences will put me in a great position to overcome Junior and take the next step towards winning another world title.

“It’s been a long training camp, but I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders. The sparring has been quality to help me prepare. With Matchroom’s blessing and backing, this gives the fight more worldwide exposure. All eyes will be on during a busy boxing weekend around the globe.

“I know Junior pulled out of the fight last year with health issues, but I’m feeling way better myself as well, the extra time allowed me to have minor surgery on my elbow which has cleared up a niggling injury. 

“Junior is getting a lot of confidence from the amateur days but I’m a totally different animal now. We’re going to see the best Junior Fa. He brings height, reach and an undefeated record.

“If I lose this fight, it’s a long way back to the top. I’m not putting extra pressure on myself, but I know the magnitude of this fight. If I let my hands go in there, it will do a lot of damage, I want to get him out of there.

“I’m still young and hungry. There’s plenty of goals to achieve still. I want to be champion of the world again; I want to provide my family with a comfortable life. To achieve both of those objectives, I need to beat Junior.

“The division is on fire at the minute, it would be great to see the undisputed fight with [Anthony Joshua] and [Tyson] Fury but make no mistake, I want another shot. I’m not shy about jumping in with anyone, but I can’t overlook Junior first of all, I want to make a statement at Spark Arena.”

Main image: Matchroom Boxing.