No more Mr Nice Guy: Joseph Parker aims to nix Wilder vs Joshua plans

Former WBO heavyweight titleholder Joseph Parker is one of the nicest guys in world boxing. However, the prospect of facing Deontay Wilder, the most dangerous one-punch hitter in the sport, has brought out the New Zealander’s game face way ahead of time.

The battle of former champions takes place at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh on December 23. Parker (33-3, 23 KOs) has been rated among the best heavyweights in the world since 2016, when he outpointed Andy Ruiz to win a vacant world title.

He made two successful defences before losing his unbeaten record to Anthony Joshua, who will square off against Otto Wallin in the main event this Saturday.

WATCH: Wilder vs. Parker, on DAZN PPV

In early 2021, Parker teamed up with acclaimed trainer and former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee. The pair have gone 5-1 since, scoring a pair of noteworthy points wins over Derek Chisora before succumbing to an 11th-round stoppage defeat to Joe Joyce last year.

Despite the Joyce setback, Parker feels that he’s still improving and is more than capable of defusing Wilder’s bombs. “When Andy and I first linked up, we were just getting to know each other,” said Parker in an exclusive interview with The Sporting News.

“We worked on a few things, and if you compare the training we did then and the training we do now, and how we’re looking on the pads and everything else, it’s a completely different coach and a completely different fighter.

“You’ll see on fight night [how I take away Wilder’s right hand]. I’ll just let him punch me here (points to the top of his skull)… coconut head (laughs).”

Wilder (43-2, 42 KOs) is not an easy fighter to prepare for. While the American can look clumsy and off-balance at times, he is very quick at getting himself into position to punch.

It’s that very strength which allows him to outmanoeuvre slower and more cumbersome opponents before his vaunted power does the rest. “We had the best sparring for this camp,” insists Parker, whose camp has stretched across three countries.

“We had numerous guys in Ireland. We had numerous guys in Morecambe Bay [in England]. We had sparring here in Saudi. I feel that Andy’s found the best guys to give me the best work and we’re well prepared.

“[The sparring partners have been told to try and knock me out], it’s been that simple. Andy’s told them to just come chasing me. Come and give me the best work and throw right hands. Everything we’ve done in camp, we’ve been practicing, and we’ve been working on the game plan. Things have come together nicely.”

Despite having the superior technical craft, and being six years Wilder’s junior at 31, Parker enters this bout as a prohibitive underdog. It’s rare to see the ex-champ angry, but that’s the direction he was heading in when reminded that some fans and experts have written him off completely.

“Listen, I don’t care what anyone says,” Parker countered, his tone changing perceptibly. “I know what I can do, and I know what I am going to do. Everyone has an opinion, and they can keep it. They can say what they want to say, but it doesn’t affect us. It doesn’t affect any of my team.

“A good victory over Deontay Wilder will be another good win. I’ve had some good wins in my career and a few losses, and a win over Wilder will be another good win that will create more opportunities for me and my team next year. It will be big time and we’ll be celebrating on the way home – big time.”

Parker is looking to blow up The Bronze Bomber’s plans of a Joshua fight in 2024 and re- establish himself atop the glamour division. It’s never wise to write off quality and if Parker can produce his best form in Riyadh, then Joshua vs. Wilder might be returned to the fantasy fight section for good.

WATCH: Wilder vs. Parker, on DAZN PPV

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