Joseph Parker eager to improve on Derek Chisora showing, confident that best is yet to come
As experienced and skilled as former WBO heavyweight titleholder Joseph Parker is, he rarely makes life easy for himself.
The affable New Zealander grinded out a tough majority decision win over Andy Ruiz to win the vacant title in December 2016. He scraped past British challenger Hughie Fury in his second defense. Following a brace of decision losses to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, in 2018, Parker regrouped to score three stoppages, but a points win over old amateur foe Junior Fa was deemed too close for comfort.
And then came Derek Chisora – who was never going to be easy. Parker, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring at heavyweight, was dropped in the opening seconds and put under heavy pressure before clawing his way back into the contest and earning himself a 12-round split decision victory in Manchester, England on May 1.
“To be honest, I haven’t watched it back,” Parker told The Ring. “I felt like I did enough to get the win, but when you watch a fight back and you know you could have done better, you sort of cringe. I haven’t had the strength to watch it, but I’ll sit down and watch it with (trainer) Andy [Lee] in due course.
“[Chisora] is one tough guy. He’s been in the game for a long time, and for him to catch me with a good shot in the beginning, put pressure on me, and give it everything he has… he just loves to fight. I honestly have a lot of respect for him, we got along well, and he showed me a lot of respect too. With some fights he’ll say this and that, but with this fight, there wasn’t any [bad blood].”
Parker (29-2, 21 knockouts) is currently spending time in Ireland with Lee, who is a former WBO middleweight titleholder as well as a highly competent coach. He has done some light workouts, but an injury to his right elbow, sustained in the Chisora fight, has ruled out any serious training. Confident in healing up quickly, the 29-year-old boxer-puncher hopes to be back out again in the summer.
“My manager, David Higgins, has been in discussions with Eddie Hearn and Frank Smith at Matchroom,” revealed Parker. “There are a few options out there and I’m just leaving it up to them to secure the best deal and make the best move.
“I want to get into position to fight for a world title. The Chisora rematch is a possibility; I don’t know what Dillian Whyte is doing, there’s no discussions there; the IBF want to put on a fight with Filip Hrgovic, because Michael Hunter pulled out of a fight against him. But there’s nothing concrete at this point.”
While Parker was disenchanted with his overall performance against Chisora, he believes the best is yet to come. The former titleholder spent just six weeks with Lee, who replaced long-time trainer Kevin Barry following the Fa encounter.
“I showed some small snippets of what we worked on,” said Parker. “It takes time to adjust from one coach to the next and execute [different] drills. The way Andy sees it is there’s still a lot of work to do, and I believe that if we fight Chisora again, and we have more time, there will definitely be more improvements.”
It still won’t be easy, but Parker never complains when the going gets tough.
Tom Gray is Managing Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing