Coaching switch brings Joseph Parker renewed focus ahead of Derek Chisora fight

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David Charlesworth, PA
·4-min read
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Joseph Parker believes he will be much sharper after teaming up with Andy Lee as the former world heavyweight champion admitted he had a tendency to switch off in fights out of sheer “laziness or boredom”.

The status of his first bout under his new trainer was shrouded in uncertainty, with Derek Chisora threatening to “go home” after a disagreement broke out over who will walk to the ring last in their Manchester Arena headliner.

But Parker believes the weeks building up to this Saturday have rejuvenated him after splitting with Kevin Barry last month and, following advice from Tyson Fury, linking up with the WBC heavyweight champion’s coach.

Parker (28-2, 21KOs) decided to leave his home in New Zealand to meet former world middleweight champion Lee in his native Ireland before the pair embarked on a six-week training camp in Morecambe.

“I feel like it’s a great move at this stage of my career,” Parker, 29, said. “There was nothing wrong with the old team, everything was great, but I just needed a new voice and just a new set-up to try something else.

“(Leaving the old team) was probably one of the hardest decisions in my whole life. You miss the people. But when you’re with someone for seven or eight years, you can try so much but sometimes you’re not trying new things.

“I don’t want to be the fighter in the future that looks back on his career and says ‘why didn’t I do this?’ I’ve enjoyed every moment of training and learning and I’ve enjoyed every hard session that we’ve done.

“I feel I’ll be a lot sharper, my focus will be a lot better. Sometimes I do drift off in fights but I feel like I’m going to be focused for every second of every minute of every round.”

Joseph Parker, left, lost back-to-back fights to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, right, in 2018 (Nick Potts/PA)
Joseph Parker, left, lost back-to-back fights to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, right, in 2018 (Nick Potts/PA)

Asked what has caused him to cruise in certain fights, he replied: “Just laziness or boredom. Maybe the fight’s going well and you get bored of it. I can’t really put my finger on it but Andy’s helped me go back to the basics.

“I think in boxing when you become a professional and you learn the basics and you progress as a fighter, sometimes you forget what you learned in the beginning. But you have to keep up the basics and the fundamentals.”

Parker, who has won his last four fights after back-to-back defeats to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte three years ago, is renowned for his laidback demeanour and peculiarly had breakfast with Chisora on Thursday morning.

“It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever been involved in,” Parker added. “I’ve never had breakfast with my opponent before.

“It went from being nice and respectful and we started talking about boxing, he wants to knock me out, I want to knock him out, and then back to ‘how are things with your family?’ And ‘how’s life?’

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“The only concern is that he goes from one extreme to the next. When we’re being nice to each other he could have flipped and did something else.”

Chisora’s volatility was laid bare at Friday’s weigh-in, where there appeared to be no sign of any drama as the Briton scaled 250.8lbs, with his opponent coming in lighter at 241.2lbs, while the stare down passed off without incident.

But Chisora said in his final pre-fight interview on Sky Sports: “They want to do a coin flip, who comes in the ring first and who comes in the ring last. Either I come in second or I go home right now.”

Chisora (32-10, 23KOs) then stormed off, leaving his manager and former foe David Haye to conduct the coin toss, which was won by Parker, who duly elected to conduct his ring walk after his rival.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said: “I don’t think the fight’s in jeopardy but I’m very interested to see how it’s going to play out. It’ll work itself out. It might be in the next 10 minutes, it might be at five to 10 tomorrow night.”