Knockout king Joseph Parker yesterday flew back into Auckland as he counts down to defending his world title for the first time.
There was little fanfare at Auckland International Airport yesterday for Parker - who won the WBO heavyweight title belt last December.
His low-key welcome will be a million miles away from the standing ovation he is set to receive from 10,000 boxing fans when he walks into the ring to face UK boxer Hughie Fury at Auckland's Spark Arena on May 6.
Those ringside will include family and friends, including his parents Sala and Dempsey Parker.
Parker has arrived in town to put the finishing touches to his fight plan after a lengthy training camp in Las Vegas.
"Preparation has been amazing, we're in great shape mentally and physically. I'm excited to get into the ring and let my hands go," the champ said.
The fight isn't the only major event on Parker's schedule.
So too will be spending precious time with his baby daughter, Elizabeth Ah-Sue Sala Parker, who was born a month before he was crowned world champion late last year.
Parker has described his daughter as a "blessing".
As he prepares for his title defence he wasted little time in landing a jab on the mouth of world-renowned boxing promoter Frank Warren, who handles Fury's career.
Warren had warned that his charge would be too powerful for the much-loved Kiwi boxer.
"They can say whatever they want," Parker said.
"I guess they believe in their fighter and have faith in him, but there's only one way to find out - and that's come to New Zealand and test me out. Then you'll see who the better fighter is on the day."
Parker copped criticism for a slow start in his victorious world title fight against David Ruiz Jr in December. This time around, he suggested he would take a more aggressive approach and take the fight to Fury.
"He's a fighter who likes to use his reach and his height. He actually uses the ring quite well. It's going to be one of those fights where I'll need to be assertive and execute the plan we put in place," he said. "I'm looking forward to a challenge."
WIN WITH THE HERALD ON SUNDAY
The Herald on Sunday has teamed up with Duco Events to offer a knockout prize for Joseph Parker's heavyweight world title bout on May 6.
We have one VIP package for the big night at Auckland's Spark Arena, including two VIP table tickets on fight night (food and beverage included), the opportunity to meet the world champ in his dressing room, and access to his pre-fight weigh-in.
To be in to win, visit winwiththeherald.co.nz and use the key word Parker.
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