JOSEPH PARKER HAS revealed that, at his most successful point, he was living out his boxing career for the benefit of others.
The now 30-year-old, who takes on Joe Joyce in a huge Manchester blockbuster on September 24, became WBO world heavyweight champion in December 2016 by defeating Andy Ruiz on home soil in Auckland and winning the title vacated by Tyson Fury via a tight points decision.
It has now been declared that Joyce-Parker will be fighting for the status of becoming WBO Interim world heavyweight champion at the AO Arena. The ‘Nowhere to Run’ blockbuster on 24 September is being shown exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office and is promoted by Frank Warren for Queensberry Promotions in association with BOXXER.
In what should have been a period of great fulfillment six years ago, there was something missing for Parker that he struggled with at the time. He can now put this void down to chasing dreams that weren’t his own.
Becoming a parent for the first time to Elizabeth made Parker understand his own discontent at a time when he should have been embracing national hero status in his native New Zealand.
“When I wasn’t a father I was doing boxing for myself because I enjoyed it, but mostly for others,” explained Parker on the Unibet Lowdown. “I’m not sure how this sounds, but I was doing it more for my dad because it was his dream and I was doing it more for my coach Kevin (Barry), who wanted to have a heavyweight world champion.
“When I achieved it I sort of wasn’t the happiest, maybe because it was for them. Now that I have my wife and my kids, in boxing I am a lot more motivated because I want to do it for myself and my immediate family.”
If the tale sounds familiar, it is because Parker’s great friend and training partner Tyson experienced similar emotions on becoming unified champion and subsequently spiralled into a mire of serious mental health issues that he recovered from in a most remarkable way.
“I think I went through exactly the same thing, but I didn’t look at it as mental health at the time. Now I have had more discussions about it, maybe I did go through the same thing, I just didn’t realise.
“I was still training and fighting, but wasn’t enjoying it. I didn’t want to associate with people and didn’t want to talk, I was out there doing this and that. I was still fighting but wasn’t training properly. I wasn’t doing anything right because I didn’t want to do it. But I was still doing it and doing it with no purpose.
“Now I have a purpose. Now I am motivated. Now I am driven. I have my wife and my kids at home who I have left and I have missed a lot of special occasions because of this goal that I have.”
Parker has set out clear goals for the remaining chapters of his boxing story and, while returning to the heavyweight top table features strongly, he is more about the here and now and taking as much as he can from each single experience.
“I don’t write them down but I do have them in my head. I should write them down, that would be a good thing to do. My goal, further out there, is to be heavyweight champion of the world. I think it would be amazing to have a fighter from New Zealand and Samoa be a two-time world champion.
“The goal is to appreciate each fight, appreciate the moment, to live in the moment and be present. If I think about stuff way down there I am not going to enjoy the process. I want to enjoy the training, the food, everything that is involved with the camp.
“I want to enjoy going home and seeing my family after a camp but, for now, I am in camp and I am going to enjoy every single moment of it.
“Now it is about the journey, the destination will take care of itself.”
As well as the huge Joyce vs Parker clash, Amanda Serrano will be bidding to win four world title belts at featherweight when the Puerto Rican superstar makes her UK debut and battles the unbeaten Dane Sarah Mahfoud.
Queensberry fighters Anthony Cacace, Ekow Essuman, Nathan Heaney, Raven Chapman and Mark Heffron all feature in the supporting cast of the 24 September ‘Nowhere to Run’ blockbuster at the AO Arena, Manchester, a fight night not-to-be-missed.
Tickets for ‘Nowhere to Run’ – the heavyweight clash between Joe Joyce and Joe Parker on 24 September at the AO Arena, Manchester being shown exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office – are priced from £40 and are on sale now exclusively from Ticketmaster.co.uk.