By Duncan Johnstone
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker is adamant he's a far better boxer now than when he was originally scheduled to fight Sherman Williams.
Parker and Williams fronted a media conference today ahead of their October 16 clash in west Auckland.
They were meant to fight back in April in Germany, but when Williams, who was sparring with Wladimir Klitschko, fell out with the world title holder and was sent packing, their clash on the undercard never eventuated.
When they do eventually square off six months later, it seemed the durable Williams from Bahamas would find a more imposing Parker.
"Oh definitely, I feel a way better fighter now than when I was over there watching Klitschko," Parker said today.
"When I compare my body, I'm in a lot better shape now. When I compare my skill, I know I'm a lot better. I know I've learned a lot."
Parker disposed of Williams' replacement in Germany with a seventh round knockout. He then produced the best performance of his young professional career to dismantle American veteran Brian Minto in six rounds and earlier this month impressed United States pundits with a business-like KO of Keith Thompson in Pennsylvania.
All the while, Williams has stayed inactive, training and dealing with personal issues like the deaths of his mother and mother-in-law.
The 41-year-old hasn't fought since last November when he improved his record to 36 wins (19 KOs), 2 draws and 13 losses by gaining a unanimous points decision over American punching bag Earl Ladson.
Parker has already done extensive homework on Williams and now it's a case of picking up on that again - and moving forward - when he heads to Las Vegas on Thursday for a seven week training camp with Kevin Barry.
"The groundwork I have done already certainly helps me with this fight," Parker said.
"But I've also got fights under my belt, he hasn't fought for a while.
"I'm going back to Vegas to train hard and learn a lot more for this fight as well."
Parker said he needed to be well prepared. The hardest fight was always the one immediately in front of any boxer, particularly in the heavyweight division where one punch could cause so much damage, and the Kiwi said that was exactly the case right now.
"This fight is my toughest fight for where I am at the moment," Parker said.
"He's a fighter with a lot of experience ... he has fought a lot of the top fighters around the world, the likes of (Evander) Holyfield. He's got a good chin, he's proved that."
Williams said he was fit and ready to apply the finishing touches to his preparations.
"This is bullets and gun smoke ... but I fight better than I talk," Williams said, feeling a little aggrieved to be mentioned alongside Minto.
"I don't know about Brian Minto ... Brian Minto is Brian Minto, I'm Sherman 'The Tank' Williams from the Bahamas and I'm coming here to fight and do what I always do ... whether it's to the body or the head, if I see an opportunity I'm going to take it."