Joseph Parker says a glance down at his stomach is the reminder for him of the gruelling training programme he has been put through in recent months.
New Zealand's bright young heavyweight boxing hope arrived back in Auckland yesterday following another stint with trainer Kevin Barry in Las Vegas.
On Thursday night in Auckland Parker will take on Afa Tatupu and is at short odds to take the bout with relative ease.
It has been the second stint for Parker under the guidance of Barry and first time around when he returned for the Frans Botha showdown it was obvious he was in exceptional shape.
Parker said the recent training load however, has taken his conditioning to another level.
"I've toned up a bit more and I've put on a bit more muscle. For the Botha fight there was only two abs showing, now another two have appeared and joined the pack. So it's a bit of improvement but the other two are still hiding at the moment, hopefully they pop out at the end of the year," he joked yesterday.
The toned up Parker is the result of an intense training camp which has included 134 rounds of sparring against boxers around various gyms in Las Vegas.
"Everyone will get to see I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve and I have a few more weapons in my game now," he said.
While there are few giving Tatupu too much of a chance on Thursday night as usual Parker was playing the respectful card rather than the traditional boxing trash talk which flows from some fighters.
Parker's future is being mapped out by his trainer and promoters with the end destination aimed at a world title but the 21-year-old isn't keen on getting too far ahead of himself and undermining what Tatupu could bring.
"He's coming prepared, he's not taking this lightly. As the titleholder I'm sure he's trained the house down to keep the title and he's not going to come and just give away the title to a 21-year-old kid.
"It's going to be a good fight, there's going to be two Samoan boys going hard in the ring."
In his six professional fights to date Parker has only had to fight past three rounds on one occasion, and while he will want to win convincingly, heading into the latter rounds on Thursday night may not be bad for his development.
Either way Parker is happy.
"Going into the fight you don't really look for a knockout. I've trained as hard as I can to be able to go 10 rounds and if it does go 10 rounds I'm ready for it. But if the knockout comes it will be a good night."an early night."
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