Joseph Parker has used the delay in his heavyweight showdown with Junior Fa to undergo surgery on both elbows for the second time in two years.
Parker and Fa were originally scheduled to clash on December 12 at Spark Arena but their domestic brawl was postponed until February 27 after Fa, the heavy underdog, required undisclosed surgery to amend a health issue that flared up following a blood test.
For the December 12 date, Parker planned to fight through his elbow pain and then have surgery but has since opted for the same keyhole procedure he had in the build up to his unanimous decision defeat against Anthony Joshua in Cardiff in early 2018.
With this surgery on his respective elbows to remove bone fragments taking place on December 1 and 11, the bruising on Parker's arms was fresh as he fronted the press on Tuesday.
"It's good to see Junior here healthy and ready to fight. I was ready to go December 12. He should have taken me on then because I was training with injuries," Parker said.
"Since the fight got postponed I took the time to go in and get surgery on both elbows. Now I reckon by February 27 I'm going to be way better; stronger, faster, no problems.
"The first surgery was very successful but over time with everything we're doing – throwing a lot of punches, doing a lot of weights, more bone keeps growing. It's not easy to train with injuries and pain.
"With sparring there was a lot of inflammation, swelling but with the surgery that I had it will be all cleared. I'm not able to punch yet – I'll probably be able to punch in the first week of January when we start camp."
Parker admitted he may need a third surgery if the elbow pain returns in time.
"I want to fight for another four or five years so hopefully it doesn't happen again but it might."
Fa has resumed light running, with his recovery ahead of schedule, and he declared he would be in the best shape of his career to take on Parker.
The 31-year-old Kiwi-Tongan also fired a few shots, accusing Parker of not being the same fighter since his twin defeats to Joshua and Dillian Whyte, the latter coming in July, 2018, after a nasty head clash.
"I can't wait to get back in the ring it's been over a year since I fought. I can't wait to hurt someone," Fa said.
"I'm going to be training everything I feel he is weak on. There's a lot of spaces I feel I can expose. His past few fights I haven't been impressed but this is a new challenge. Come February 27 we'll both put on a good show."
In another significant boost to the Fa camp, trainer Eugene Bareman revealed UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and fellow Kiwi light heavyweight Carlos Ulberg will be on hand to help Fa prepare for Parker.
"We will have Israel and Carlos for the full camp which is brilliant," Bareman said. "As Joseph and our team know good sparring partners in this country are at a premium so the teams were searching for the same guys for a little while.
"Israel has a scheduled fight and we will fly out to America the day after Junior's fight. That puts them doing their camps simultaneously which is going to be massive for Junior and Israel.
"A lot of the other UFC guys who will be one the same card will be in that same camp too. You've got to witness it but when those guys are pushing each other, pumping the bikes and sparring together I've never seen anything like that in any gym around the world it's something special.
"That's one of the few benefits for us of having the fight delayed."