Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Joseph Parker - I'll beat Fury and then teach Bellew a lesson

Joseph Parker has spoken of his desire to prove his world champion heavyweight credentials against Tony Bellew and willingness to get into the ring with Deontay Wilder, one of the giants of the division.

In an interview with the Herald from his Las Vegas base, New Zealander Parker also spoke of his relief at getting back into training for his first mandatory WBO world title defence against Hughie Fury at Auckland's Vector Arena on May 6, his satisfaction at how his camp is proceeding after difficult build-ups to his previous two fights, and why the heavyweight scene is such an exciting place to be at the moment.

Parker said he was taking nothing for granted in terms of his clash against Fury in two months, but there are potentially bigger fights ahead, and match-ups with either Englishman Bellew or American Wilder would certainly qualify as that.

Parker's aim is to unify the heavyweight division, which puts WBC champion Wilder in his sights, but a fight against cruiserweight Bellew, potentially at Wembley Stadium in the middle of the year, would likely be more lucrative and certainly easier, at least in theory.

He also listened to Bellew's recent comments about Parker being a "lesser of the champions" with interest, and would like to take the opportunity to educate the 34-year-old.

Read more: Tony Bellew - Joseph Parker 'lesser of the champions'

"That's good they think that of me because I'll give them a surprise," Parker said of Bellew and promoter Eddie Hearn, both of whom have called out the 25-year-old. "They feel like I'm the weaker of the heavyweights and not as powerful or as fast or as strong and I'll show them what I can do when I get in the ring with him."

The heavyweight division has been in a constant state of flux since Tyson Fury's upset against Wladimir Klitschko in Germany at the end of 2015, and no fights are guaranteed until contracts are signed, but should Parker get past Hughie Fury on home turf, as expected, then a fight against Bellew following his recent upset over the ageing David Haye could happen.

"It was a good fight; all action and good for the crowd," Parker said of Bellew's 11th-round TKO of Haye in London. "But I know if I do get in the ring with him I could do well against him."

Parker also believes he can get past Wilder after watching him battle to victory over Gerald Washington in Alabama, a fight in the balance until the fifth round when the WBC champion finished it with his devastating right hand.

"It was great to be there ringside to see how he fights," Parker said. "I got a good look and I'm confident that if I do fight him I can beat him.

"There are a lot of things he does really well and there are a lot of things he does not so well. After watching him and studying him I think I can come up with a game plan with Kevin to approach what he brings."

Parker needed a break after his title victory over Andy Ruiz Jr last December, a fight which came at the end of a busy year. His body had now recovered from niggling elbow and shoulder issues, and he was enjoying being back in camp.

"When you're away from camp for a long time you feel like you're missing out on something. I'm excited to get back here. We trained hard for three weeks, took a bit of time off because we didn't want to overtrain, and now we're back into it again."

Parker will arrive back in Auckland a fortnight before the Fury fight. Originally scheduled for April 1 before Fury's promoter Frank Warren's delays in signing the contract led to a re-schedule, Parker now won't be able to attend the Anthony Joshua v Klitschko fight at Wembley on April 29 as he had hoped.

The future, though, looks promising.

"There are so many options," Parker said. "First things first - I have to get past Fury. I can't underestimate him. But the options after that are exciting. It's great to be a part of this division which is bringing the excitement back."

- NZ Herald

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