Joseph Parker: “I am financially secure, now I have to be the best”

How Andy Lee and Tyson Fury have created a new me, one without a doubt, one that won’t stop until they reach the top

The relationship with Andy Lee keeps getting better and better. When you have worked with someone for so long, you become very close, now we are like a family. Every camp gets better and better.

The first camp, for Derek Chisora’s first fight, went well. The second camp was better but this one, for Joe Joyce, has been the best ever. There are many reasons for that. The time I’ve spent with Andy has meant that he has added more to what I can do in the ring. It’s the whole setup that’s good. Tyson [Fury] He’s given us the gym to use, a house to rent, and I’ve brought in a chef to do all the cooking, which is my first time doing that. This has not only been the best camp with Andy, it has been the best camp of my career, so far.

As for being away from my children, from my family, you get used to it. But then at the same time, you never get used to it. I settled here in England because, for boxing and my career, this is what I need to do and what I have chosen to do. My wife is very understanding, although it is very difficult. I have four beautiful young women at home, it is very difficult to be away from them. But to be the best, you need to surround yourself with the best.

Boxing won’t be something I do until I’m 40 years old. I have a good four or five years left in which I am going to give everything I have. If I’m back home, worrying about spending time with family and trying to train at the same time, I wouldn’t get the best of myself. It’s hard, but I have to do it.

The more I think about this fight with Joe Joyce, the more excited I get because the challenge it represents is great. Not many people go looking for a fight with him. He is good, he has shown a lot in his career so far, the pressure that he brings, the engine that he has. But, to be the best, you have to fight who he is in front of you and I think he is the best possible opponent for me at this stage of my career. I want that challenge, I want to face everything he brings.

The goal for me is to fight for the world title. I just want to give everything I have for the fights ahead of me and for now, that’s Joe Joyce. I want to be dominant, I want to set up a showcase. I have been criticized in the past for just boxing and moving, but I want to do more than that. Tyson Fury is a friend but he is also a world champion. But it would be a mistake to focus on that now, I have to get past Joe Joyce first.

But being world champion is what keeps me going. I already have financial security for my family and boxing has blessed me with that. Now it’s for me, now it’s for achieving everything I want to achieve. In the past, I did it for other people, now it’s for myself.

It feels great to be a part of this heavyweight mix, to be ranked high, but I know I can achieve more. Instead of being the passive, defensive fighter, I want to give the fans more.

I couldn’t always do that. The Joseph Parker who fought Anthony Joshua in 2018 was trying to convince himself that he belonged in the mix. Today’s Joseph Parker knows that he is in the mix. I am more positive now, I will not wait on the right foot for opportunities in the ring, I will go out and take those opportunities. That’s the big difference now.

He used to come to camp fat and heavy. That’s not a good start, mentally and physically. But now I train all the time, whether I have a fight or not. I’m always ready now, whereas back then I wasn’t.

I am very grateful to Tyson Fury, who has played a very important role in that change. He introduced me to Andy Lee, he gave me his gym, he practically gave me all of his equipment and he said, ‘This is it, now you have no excuses.’ He lets Andy and I work on things, obviously, but when he’s around, he’s not afraid to give me advice, to push me, to help me.

I always thought he would come back, but every time I spoke to him he always insisted that he had retired. Her father spoke to him, her brother spoke to him and he told them that he was also retired. But he certainly has been busy. He had the fight with Dillian Whyte, then he retired, then he called Thor, then he retired, then he kicked the taxi, he punched a fighter, and then he retired again. In all seriousness I have a lot to thank him for, he is the reason I am here in Morecambe.

I have made Morecambe my home. People now call me ‘Morecambe Joe’ or ‘Gypsy Joe’ wherever I go. The weather in the summer definitely helped. So I woke up this morning, I looked out the window and it was raining. I said to myself: ‘Welcome back’.

When I wake up in the morning my first thought is with my family. I always call them to say hello. Then I do a morning prayer and do my breathing exercises. There are no worries or doubts whatsoever about this fight, even as it draws closer.

In the past, when I was training in Vegas and I hadn’t checked all the boxes, that’s when you have doubts. You have trained, but you have not fully committed. That’s when you start to wonder if you’re really ready for this fight. But when you’ve checked all the boxes, that disappears. Obviously we are human, small doubts may arise, nerves may arise, but that’s it. I speak with a psychologist once a week and with the presence of Andy and Tyson who are full of encouragement: ‘no one will beat you’, you just get better and better mentally. You also become stronger physically.

BT Sport Box Office will show Joe Joyce v Joseph Parker exclusively live on Saturday 24th September. Learn more at bt.com/sportboxoffice

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