It’s been an explosive week for New Zealand’s WBO heavyweight champion, Joseph Parker. He opens up on his frustration with Hughie Fury’s withdrawal, and what’s next.
Life as the champ is full of challengers and challenges and they’ve been coming at me thick and fast over the past week.
Hughie Fury’s decision to withdraw from Saturday’s WBO title fight was hugely disappointing and also stressful in terms of keeping the promotion alive.
It was really difficult working with the Furys in the background and we had our concerns the longer things got drawn out. When we were told the fight was off we couldn’t believe it because we just wanted to beat them, get the mandatory out of the way and move on.
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* Parker takes big cut for rearranged fight
* Kevin Barry slams Hughie Fury
That hasn’t happened for now but the show goes on. It’s funny how things work out, but I think Razvan Conaju will provide a better fight. More on that later.
As it stands Fury still looks to be the mandatory so I’m probably going to have to fight him at some stage. Let’s just say if that eventuates, I think there will be a bit more drive for me to go out there and take care of business.
Be prepared Hughie. If you are still the mandatory after this fight, be prepared … boxing is a hurt business and I want to hurt someone.
If this had happened a year ago it would have really upset me and affected me. Physically I’m in great shape but mentally I’m much stronger now. Working on my mental game with Ceri Evans has helped me accept it and cope with it a lot easier.
Being world champion has changed me.
It has driven me to train with more intensity and I believe I’m at a new level.
I have to be. I have the belt and people are coming after me. I’ve gone from being the hunter to being the hunted.
That’s picked up over the last week. I’ve heard the calls from Deontay Wilder, Dominic Breazeale and Tony Bellew.
I’ve also heard people say I’m ducking them. But people need to understand we had to get this replacement fight arranged quickly and on the WBO terms. Raz fulfils all of those as one of their top 15 fighters who is fit and available.
I’m not ducking anyone. I’ve said it before, I will fight anyone. Being a champion, I want to fight the best in the world to see where I’m at. I want to fight Wilder, Joshua, Klitschko, anyone who is at the top. Boxing should be like the good old days when there really was one world champion. I want to be that man.
But as one of the belt holders I deserve respect and as a team we should be able to dictate terms. The last week has made us tighter than ever at Duco Events, both as a boxing unit and management.
So it will be a team decision where we go and what we do.
The most important thing right now is fighting Razvan Conaju, focussing on him and getting the job done. Then the world is our oyster. We realise the bright lights of the UK and US beckon.
But a first defence at home was always important to me to reward my loyal Kiwi and Samoan fans. That’s why when Fury pulled out I was so eager for it to continue, even if it has been scaled back.
I thank Raz for stepping in and trust me, Raz is powerful and a risky fight. Our history ensures that. He knows my style, my tricks and everything I do. Izu Ugonoh is the only fighter who knows me better.
The big plus being home has been getting to know my baby daughter Elizabeth better after 12 weeks away.
It was really hard leaving New Zealand at short notice when the Fury fight was suddenly ordered. I was very emotional. It got tougher when the April 1 date was postponed and we had to extend things.
We Skyped three or four times a day. Now I’ve seen her every day and it’s been wonderful to cradle her in my arms.
But I’m eager for these arms to swing some leather.
This is the longest I’ve been out of the ring in three years. As a fighter you feel like you are missing something. You want to get in the ring and get that reward for all the training.
I want to fight, I want to retain my belt, I want to take on the world.