Joseph Parker has by chance bumped into Rugby World Cup winner and All Blacks Great Sean Fitzpatrick while at Sky News in London today.
The meeting was all the more remarkable considering Fitzpatrick used to do boxing training, as an All Black, under the tutelage of Parker’s trainer, Kevin Barry. He freely admits, however, he cannot fight to save himself.
The record breaking 92-test All Blacks captain says he is a massive Parker fan and is to proud to see him in the UK taking on the world.
Fitzpatrick has called England home for 14-years and works as a rugby pundit for Sky UK.
A transcript of Parker’s interview has been provided for your convenience.
How are preparations?
Firstly it’s great to be here. I was actually excited to come here and fight, and fight in front of his home crowd, preparation has been amazing, I feel like I’ve put in great work, so no excuses, I’ve had some great sparring, I did some great work with my coach, technical stuff, skills, I’m ready to go.
What actually happens the last ten days before a fight, can you give an anecdotal idea?
Yeah, I mean we are still keeping sharp, we are still training two, three times a day depending on the date, and probably closer to the fight we will taper off and probably have one session a day, so it’s still pretty full on.
You mention you’re delighted to be over here, it’s the first time for you fighting in the UK, how do you think you’re going to be received by the public?
I think he’ll have a lot of support because he’s from here. But I think there are a lot of New Zealanders over here. We’ve got some good support since we’ve been here. You know I’m excited because I’m used to fighting back home, fans back home, I’ve got a good structure back home, I think this is more exciting because it’s something new. I feel like I’ve got more focus and more motivation.
Just talk to us, I suppose about general career boxing career strategy if you like. How important is this fight to try and elevate you to bigger bouts in the division. Potentially unification bouts as well in the future.
This bout is very important and we wanted to come to the UK and fight. I feel like this is the fight we’re going to establish ourselves here that we’re going to come here and establish ourselves here and look at fighting other bigger names that are here.
We can see the belt here. Beautiful belt and you were obviously able to defend it against Razvan Cojanu in Auckland in a unanimous points decision. When you look back at that fight, how did it go for you. Did it go the way you wanted it to?
Honestly when I look at the fight it was a 50 percent performance. A lot of things that happened in the background caused that. I guess Hughie should’ve fought me then because right now I’m at 100 percent so I’m going to be a different fighter.
When you have been preparing for this fight, and your next title defence, you’re now with David Haye’s gym, you’ve got the right kind of environment around you I guess, what about David Haye, could that be a potential fight going forward?
I mean I think I’ve got to get past Hughie first, obviously down the road, got to look at what fights are out there and what fights there are to have. I feel like David can be a fight in the future. He’s still in good shape, he’s still fighting hard, you know, you never know what can happen.
What do you like about him as a fighter?
I followed him ever since I started boxing, I’ve watched a lot of his fights, I like his speed, his movement he’s real agile so, it would be an interesting fight.
That’s Haye, of course last time out he lost to Tony Bellew who you met up with in Las Vegas at the Mayweather McGregor fight. Could there be any matchup with Bellew?
I’ve got to get past this next fight and then hopefully see what makes sense you know. I feel like Bellew and David could be other options for me to fight in the future.
Another big, big heavyweight bout is of course Anthony Joshua against Pulev. Of course this is another reason why the heavyweight division is so exciting right now. It used to be dominated by a pair of brothers didn’t it. Now we’ve got a lot more factors and people coming from all sorts of different directions. Are you going to have a keen eye on that fight? How do you see it going?
Yeah the heavyweight division is exciting at the moment like you said, It was a bit dull and a bit boring not long ago but now it’s pretty exciting. I feel like that fight with Pulev, Joshua will come out on top. He’s young, hungry, a champion for a reason. He showed in his last fight he has a lot of heart so I feel he will come out on top.
Are there any weaknesses which you think Pulev can try and exploit with Joshua?
Yeah I’m sure every camp can sort of see each other’s style and come up with a game plan. I feel like every fighter has weaknesses and strengths and you just have to see how you can deal with it.
And I know you’ve mentioned it, it is all about this first fight, it s the Fury fight for you first. Looking long term, should it all go well, you’ll want to take on AJ at some point,
Of course, I think everyone wants to fight him. I feel like I want to fight anyone that’s available, anyone that’s keen. I’m not scared of anyone and lets make it happen with any fighter who wants to fight.
How muck of a distraction is it though, you get people like us, admittedly, saying ‘how about the next fight?’ What about five fights down the road? But you’ve got to concentrate on the next one don’t you and is it that sort of thing where you really have to lock down and go, ‘lets just get this one done’.
I mean, get it done, but like you just said, the reason its so exciting is so many options. There’s this one, there’s this one, there’s that one. Get this done, knock him out and then look forward.
I’m going to the extreme, five years time, could you have unified the heavyweight division do you think?
That’s my goal and I believe I have the ability to do it. I have a great team that’s helping me trying to achieve my goal so I think I can.
Do we expect to see you here more often do you think fighting as well?
I’m going to make this my home base so..
Ohh tell us more why? Why London?
Yeah London, the heavyweight division is booming over here at the moment so I want to be part of it, I want to fight all the heavyweights out there. Heavyweight boxing is exciting again so it’s great to be part of it.
What about other sports and other sportsmen from New Zealand. There are some footballers over here, especially in the premier league from New Zealand as well. Are you in contact with them? Do you chat with then? Do you hang out with them?
I haven’t had the chance to but I am looking forward to meeting Winston Reid tomorrow. It’s always great coming overseas and joining up with New Zealanders . It’s great seeing how well they do.
And if you’re over here permanently, you’ll be hooking up with them all the time!
That’s the plan.
Do you talk about sporting performance and how to achieve success. I mean I know its obviously a different sport and different challenges, do you ever share any knowledge, insights, how you prepare for things, mental preparation perhaps?
I haven’t at the moment, I’ve been pretty focused on myself but it will be good to get along with other athletes.
You’d be open to the idea?
It would be a good discussion.