Joseph Parker says teaming up with Tyson Fury has helped him to breathe fresh life into his career and that the WBC heavyweight champion is a relentlessly positive person to be around.
Parker faces Joe Joyce for the interim WBO heavyweight title in Manchester on Saturday, his third fight since teaming up with coach Andy Lee and basing himself at Fury’s gym in Morecambe.
The former WBO champion often shares the gym with Fury as well as morning runs.
“He’s just a positive person to be around when he trains, he just pushes everyone and he includes everyone,” Parker said. “It’s nice when he’s around in his own gym!
“He’s given us the gym to use, the house to live in, the whole team. So he’s been very influential in helping me get my career back where it is now.
“When he’s around and you go for a run, he’s never shy to give his advice and help. If he sees anything he thinks he can help with, he mentions it. I’m just thankful for everything he’s done and continues to do.”
The first time that Parker boxed at the venue now known as the AO Arena was in 2017 when he successfully defended the WBO title against Fury’s cousin, Hughie, in a turgid fight. An overweight Tyson was furious after the fight, accusing officials of corruption as he believed his cousin should have won. But Parker said that incident had no negative effect on their relationship.
“He was very supportive of me, even before that fight,” Parker said. “We exchanged messages with me on social media and he was always supportive of me in my fights with [Anthony] Joshua and [Dillian] Whyte. He’s always backed me.”
While Parker and Joyce exchanged words at their press conferences, Parker, 30, is not about to pretend there is any great beef between the pair.
“I’ve met Joe a few times and he’s a nice guy,” Parker said. “We’ve been going back and forth on social media, but ultimately, we both can’t talk crap because we’re not good at it.
“We don’t talk crap, but when we fight, we want to fight hard. We’re going to do our talking in the ring and leave the crap talking to Tyson, [Deontay] Wilder and everyone else.”
“This is the perfect fight for us at this time because he’s ranked above me and as a fighter, you want the fights that will get you closer to fighting for a world title,” Parker said.
“There’s a reason why he’s ranked highly because of what he’s done. He’s undefeated and everyone they’ve put in front of him, he’s beaten. He’s done really well.
“The Dubois win was his best because a lot of people thought it was going to go the other way, he put in a good performance in that fight. But Dubois didn’t have the experience I have. Dubois is a good fighter, but that was too early for him.
“Experience will be a difference this time, it will be the work we’ve done in this camp and the gameplan Andy has come up with. All those things will help me beat this guy.
“A lot of fighters, they don’t have the movement, experience, strength or speed to fight him, but I know I can break him down.”
Despite his friendship with Fury, Parker has not ruled out the possibility of facing him in the future, although if he beats Joyce he will have to have a rematch with the Londoner before he can think about doing anything else.
“I beat Joe Joyce and then I’ll have to fight him again in December because of the rematch clause,” Parker said.
“I’ll beat him twice and then look at my options moving forward. That is all I am focusing on right now.”
· BT Sport Box Office will show Joe Joyce v Joseph Parker exclusively live on Saturday. Learn more at bt.com/sportboxoffice