Joseph Parker is back in town preparing to face hard hitting Tongan Bowie Tupou on August 1st at Stadium Southland, Invercargill. While comparisons are often odious it isn’t until our interview has concluded and we have reached the training gym that one begins to see the results of all the hard work Parker has been putting in with Kevin Barry over the past 24 months and the difference in how he now physically looks from the fleshy fresh faced rookie who began his tutelage with Barry back in 2013.
While always being a decent sized heavyweight, Parker’s physique now resembles that, to use the English vernacular, of a brick outhouse. The shoulders are noticeably broader, the chest and arms now filling out as Parker continues to grow into his frame. And just in case anyone is wondering, if watching him hit the mitts is any indication, he hasn’t lost any of his trademark speed.
In fact Coach Kevin Barry believes that if anything Parker has gotten faster and noticeably more powerful while Barry also believes that Parker is still only in the embryonic stages of his development, a daunting prospect for many others in the heavyweight division.
It is a noticeably relaxed and confident Joseph Parker who sits down to chat about his upcoming fight and his future goals in the sport, a young athlete whose horizons are opening further with each and every fight and each and every victory.
ESB: Before looking ahead I just want to touch briefly on your last fight. You must have been very happy with the way you beat Saglam last time out?
Joseph: It was definitely a good win and the crowd were great. We were very happy.
ESB: Much like the Costa Junior fight last year you pretty much ended the Saglam fight with one punch. Where do you think that one punch power has come from in the last 12 months?
Joseph: I think it’s down to the technique that Kevin has been teaching me. The way he has me sitting down on my punches, turning my hips and getting my form right. So it’s a mixture of all those techniques coming together.
ESB: I know you have also been working on your strength which is a slightly different commodity from raw power. I understand you have been building that up using a lot of old school bodyweight training.
Joseph: I think sometimes with weights you can get a bit tight, tense up your muscles, but with bodyweight training it’s a lot less likely to cause injury and more low impact.
ESB: Bowie Tupou, what are the strengths and what are the weaknesses?
Joseph: His strengths are his power, size, and in the fights I’ve seen he likes to mix up his defence. If his opponent is not dangerous he likes to leave his hands down……
ESB: I think he’d be a gambling man if he tried that against you.
Joseph: Maybe, with the better opponents he keeps his hands up. He throws big bombs. He doesn’t throw a lot of punches but if he sees an opening he will throw a big bomb.
ESB: What do you think his weaknesses are?
Joseph: His movement isn’t the greatest, plus speed-wise from what I’ve seen he doesn’t possess my kind of speed and there’s a lot of body available to hit.
ESB: He has lost a lot of weight for this fight so it seems as though he is taking it pretty seriously.
Joseph: Well it’s a serious fight for us both. There’s a lot to gain for us both, there’s two belts and the opportunity to improve our rankings.
ESB: Your coach Kevin Barry mentioned to me that due to the respective level of your rankings with the WBO, you being at eight and Tupou at thirteen that the winner of this fight could potentially move up as high as number five?
Joseph: Yeah potentially. That will definitely tick off a box and move us closer to what we are trying to achieve.
ESB: How much impact do you think Jeff Fenech will have training Tupou?
Joseph: I definitely think Jeff will help Bowie with a few things but I’m not sure due to the small amount of time that they’ve had together they can make significant changes. I’ve been with Kevin Barry for two years now and I don’t think I could make all the changes we’ve made in four or five weeks.
ESB: It does seem that you appear a lot more relaxed in the ring and really trust the work you’ve done with Kevin?
Joseph: Yeah you’re right, it’s about trust, me believing in what he’s saying, believing in the conditioning work that we’ve done. Everything.
ESB: there seems to be a lot of talk about the overhand right that you occasionally get hit with. Kevin’s been very vocal about this. When a fighter has a supposed weakness or Achilles heel they don’t really discuss it in public. Do you think in a way he is issuing you a public challenge to improve in this area and why do you think you have been hit by that shot in the past?
Joseph: Maybe it is a challenge to improve. I think it has occurred because of some bad habits I picked up in the amateurs. Now every time I train I make sure my right hand is up. Sometimes I prefer it down a bit so I can see what is in front of me but if you are caught with the right one from the right person it changes the whole fight.
ESB: Kevin wants the jab to be a big factor in this fight.
Joseph: Yes certainly with this opponent. I can abandon it at times, occasionally I can stray away from the game plan, but now we’ve done so much training it‘s really stuck in my head, jab, jab, jab.
ESB: I know sometimes when you’re looking for that right hand the jab goes from being a weapon………….
Joseph: To a touch (laughs) yes I know, but like you mentioned the jab is the most important punch I have. Kevin has said it to me so many times, repeatedly, that if I hit my opponent with the jab it opens everything else up. And especially with Tupou, I think he is open for the jab.
ESB: Will this fight be going live to America?
Joseph: Yes, that’s what I’ve heard.
ESB: Are you looking to fight in America next year?
Joseph: Yes it’s something we’d like to consider. My promoters at Duco are over there right now talking to both HBO and Showtime.
ESB: Now on to something a little bit different, I see you’ve been making some TV ads for Burger King. I’ve enjoyed watching them, have you enjoyed making them and how much time do they take up?
Joseph: Yes I have and they only took up a day. It was fun, the team around me was fun. I’m enjoying trying these different types of things.
ESB: I know you did a promotion after your last fight where Burger King sold Whoppers for one dollar. Will you be doing something like that again?
Joseph: Yes this time I think they are going to do something similar, see I’m fighting to feed the people! (Laughs)
Joseph Parker 14(12)-0 faces Bowie Tupou 25(17)-3 at Stadium Southland, Invercargill, August 1st.
You can follow Joseph on Twitter: twitter.com/joeboxerparker