By Bryce Wilson
BoxingScene caught up with Joseph Parker as he is in the midst of preparations for his sure-to-be fireworks fight with Dillian Whyte at the O2 Arena, July 28th.
This is a very different Parker than any we’ve seen in the past, coming off a 12 round decision loss to Anthony Joshua, entering camp for this fight Parker is only 4 to 5 kgs off his premium fighting weight and more importantly injury free. Perhaps this is what’s behind his upbeat mood as we sit down to talk.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: As you know with all our chats, before we look forward I like to take a look back at your last fight. Your gas tank looked fine at the end of the 12 rounds and there didn’t seem a whole lot Joshua could do to you offensively. However, as you lost the fight what are some of the things you feel you could’ve done better?
PARKER: I could’ve thrown more punches, that’s for sure. His power on the other hand was decent but it didn’t faze me, it didn’t have any real sting to it. Perhaps that was because he didn’t really land with anything clean during the fight.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: The ref wasn’t letting you work on the inside, which was a shame because that’s when the fight looked like it was heating up, what do you think you could’ve done better when you were on the outside?
PARKER: I think I needed to adjust and change what I was doing. The great fighters, if you look at them, when they’re having problems in a fight they have another level within them. That ability to adjust. I need to be able to do that which I didn’t do in my last fight. I needed to use more angles coming in and not be as hesitant to let my hands go. I needed more mongrel in that fight.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Were you surprised to hear him admit post-fight that he was a little hesitant going in to face you and perhaps the mind games had worked to an extent?
PARKER: For sure, he did admit that he was doubting and questioning himself and it seemed like he was a bit more troubled in that sense.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: What did he do better than expected?
PARKER: His stamina was a little bit better than expected, he boxed really smartly. I thought with my head and upper body movement we might be able to lure him in, but he stayed very disciplined to keep on the outside and just box me without taking too many risks.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: I feel like you look like your best when you are on the front foot and conversely in fights where you have been given some trouble it has always been when you are on he back foot giving up that ‘middle zone’ as your trainer Kevin Barry likes to call it. Would you agree?
PARKER: Yes, I do. On one hand I was happy to show that I could fight smart and not get hit but fighting smart often doesn’t win you fights. In the future it will always be important to fight smart, but I also have to find ways to move forward a lot more often. I want to move less, little moves then attack, little moves then attack.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Lastly before we move on to your fight with Whyte, how did you find the atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium as it was many many levels above anything you’d experienced before?
PARKER: We went down for a recce on the day of the fight, to scope it out. And then when it was time to walk out for the fight proper, to tell you the truth this was the first time that I had no fears or nerves, nothing. Just excitement to be in a such a big fight.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Did you mind being the bad guy?
PARKER: I don’t think I was necessarily the bad guy, I think I was just the guy they didn’t like! (Laughs)
BOXINGSCENE.COM: If Wilder fights over there he’ll definitely be the bad guy.
PARKER: Oh, for sure, but then Wilder’s a different human being. (Laughs)
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Now looking ahead, most people might have expected you to take an easier fight, but here you are going back to the UK, back into someone’s home patch, and Dillian Whyte is a very very tough fighter. What was your thought process behind that?
PARKER: We had a couple of other options, Ustinov, Jennings, they were potentially good fights with an OK deal. But the Dillian fight, Dave (Higgins) spoke to Eddie (Hearn) and I believe Dillian accepted straight away and I accepted straight away, both of us are keen for this fight and it’s a good deal for both parties. It all happened in about 48 hours.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: In saying that they will fight anyone, anywhere a lot of fighters talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. With Dillian Whyte you genuinely do get the sense that he is happy to fight anyone at any time.
PARKER: Listen, you do have to give him credit in this regard. When it comes down to it many fighters do mouth off and then when it comes down to it the fight doesn’t get made but Dillian is not that type of fighter. I think we both have the mentality that if you want to be the best in the word then you have to face the other top guys. No point mucking around with comeback fights. What’s the point of going into training camp, spending time away from family when you know you’re just gonna go and blast a guy out of there?
BOXINGSCENE.COM: I would assume having been involved in such a big fight last time out you want another big event which will keep you excited and motivated?
PARKER: For sure. He’s a good fighter, he talks, he’ll promote the fight. It also makes sense rankings-wise, he’s ranked by most organisations. That’s what makes this such a great fight.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: What do you rate as Whyte’s greatest strengths?
PARKER: He’s got real mongrel, he’ll come forward all night long. He’s very strong mentally, he’ll talk to you during the fight to try and get under your skin. But everything that he brings, I love challenges, fights like this give you motivation when you know the other guy is coming to seriously try and hurt you. He doesn’t mind taking a punch to throw a punch.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: I felt the fight in Cardiff was a fair decision, but I did have it a little closer on the scorecards. That being the case do you feel like you’ll need a knockout or at least a knockdown to win this fight?
PARKER: Yes, I do but that’s OK because its time I put on a dominant performance and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a performance that people haven’t seen in a while.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Everyone agreed, Joshua’s camp agreed, your camp agreed, it was the wrong choice of referee, it didn’t allow either side to really execute the type of performance they wanted. Has there been any discussion between both camps for this fight as to what you can do to avoid that?
PARKER: Well to be honest both camps looked at the referee’s previous performances and didn’t see anything too concerning. This time around I think everyone will be taking a much closer look and its agreed under the contract that there will be a mutually agreed on referee.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: The last fight out you were the one doing all the talking. With this fight we know Dillian is a big talker, are you looking forward to taking a backseat in that department?
PARKER: My talking in the last fight was part of the game plan to get the contract signed and also to get under Joshua’s skin a little bit. As for Dillian, I know he’s going to mouth off. If there was a mouthing off competition then I know he’d definitely win. I can say a few things to get back, but I don’t want to look silly. If there was a title at stake for mouthing off then he has won it already!
Thankfully for Parker the contest is one decided on real jabs rather than verbal ones, along with hooks, uppercuts and since this is a Dillian Whyte fight, more than a few wild right hands. Despite losing his WBO world title last time out Parker seems relaxed, focused and hungry to get back what was taken from him. Entering camp in such trim shape should go a long way towards an improved performance from his defeat at the hands of Joshua earlier in the year. With the stakes so high Parker can’t afford to be at anything less than one hundred percent.