Joseph Parker is supremely confident of his third consecutive trip to Manchester once again ending with his arm raised in victory.
The former WBO heavyweight titlist hits the road once again, this time as the underdog in a crossroads bout with unbeaten Joe Joyce (14-0, 13KOs). The two meet this Saturday for the interim WBO heavyweight title, atop a BT Sport Box Office show from AO Arena in Manchester, England. BetMGM sportsbook has Joyce as a -190 favorite to preserve his perfect record while ending Parker’s six-fight win streak, including two in a row at this very venue.
The visiting New Zealander knows precisely what he signed up for and vows to be up for the challenge.
“I’m gonna be the first to beat him, give him his first loss,” vowed Parker at the end of training camp in Morecambe, England. “It’s okay, he can come back from that and I’ll beat him again in December.”
Parker (30-2, 21KOs) enters the fight having completed his third training camp under the guidance of former WBO middleweight titlist Andy Lee. The union began last March and also includes the benefit of being in the constant presence of lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (32-0-1, 23KOs). Parker’s two fights under Lee have resulted in a pair of wins over Derek Chisora, both taking place last year and at AO Arena. Parker barely edged Chisora in their first fight last July before riding three official knockdowns to the finish line in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win last December 18 in Manchester.
It's a steep transition from a veteran gatekeeper who’s long ago grown accustomed to losing at the top level to facing a top contender in Joyce who hasn’t tasted defeat since the final fight of his storied amateur career.
Parker—currently a +160 betting underdog according to BetMGM—is the second former titlist to face Joyce. The 30-year-old South Auckland native is much closer to his prime than was faded former WBC titlist Bermane Stiverne in his February 2019 knockout loss to Joyce, who has punched his way to the top of the WBO contender queue.
Joyce has stopped all but one opponent, going all twelve rounds in a unanimous decision win over former title challenger Bryant Jennings in July 2019. He’s since added four wins inside the distance, including a tenth-round knockout of Daniel Dubois in their November 2020 clash of unbeaten British heavyweights.
“Joe Joyce has a great amateur background. He’s undefeated as a [pro] fighter,” noted Parker. “He’s only been taken the distance once. He’s got that confidence heading into this fight. He’s got the engine, takes a good shot and throws a lot of punches. But I’m gonna beat him.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox