Joseph Parker's career has been in make-or-break territory for the best part of three years but when the world's best heavyweight spells out the ramifications of his next fight with rugged Brit Dereck Chisora, the message hits home like never before.
Parker, to his credit, realised his career reached a crossroads following his underwhelming victory over Junior Fa in February and set about overhauling his approach to reinvigorate a push to remain among the world's top-tier heavyweights.
After defeating Fa, Parker did not want to return to Las Vegas and therefore split with long-time trainer Kevin Barry without having anyone else lined up.
He turned to Tyson Fury for advice – the pair's friendship stretching back further than their first meeting when Parker defeated Fury's cousin, Hughie, in 2017.
Fury recommended another cousin, former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee, and Parker was on a plane to Ireland the next week.
"If I didn't talk to Tyson, if I didn't link with Andy, I don't think I would have fought May 1 because there was no trainer, no setup, no camp," Parker told the Herald. "Everything fell into place at the right time."
Parker spent two weeks in Ireland but with Covid-19 lockdowns still in full force, he and Lee relocated to Fury's hometown in Morecambe, a small coastal town in Lancashire.
There Parker spent a couple of weeks training alongside Fury, as he prepares for his unification fight against Anthony Joshua.
"He's a beast. Andy and I are focusing on our training, doing our pad work. When Tyson was here, in the time we were training together, he was always encouraging us. It was a positive energy in the gym and on the runs. He would watch what Andy and I were doing and give advice here and there.
"It's good to train alongside him and see what he does, being the No 1 heavyweight in the world."
Before leaving for Vegas last week, Fury left Parker in no doubt of the significance of his Chisora showdown.
"The Junior fight was a good win, but not a good performance. Every fight is now a must-win fight. Tyson and Andy said to me the other day 'we respect you, we like you as a fighter and a brother, but if you don't beat Chisora you have serious questions you have to ask yourself. Do you still belong in this sport? Can you achieve great things? Chisora brings pressure and throws a lot of punches but he's old, he's been there done that'. They said 'he shouldn't beat you'."
Adding pressure to deliver an impressive victory is the fact this will be the last of Parker's lucrative three-fight deal - believed to be worth $6 million - with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing.
In an ideal world, Parker hopes to defeat Chisora and fight twice more this year – in late July/early August and again at the end of the year.
Parker knows a loss, however, will kill off David Higgins' leverage to negotiate a renewed deal with Hearn.
"This is the last fight with Matchroom and the goal is to hopefully re-sign and get further fights if we can. I'll leave that to David, he's exploring a lot of options, but everything comes down to this next fight.
"If I look good and win people will want to offer me more fights. If I don't win and don't look good people will be thinking what's the point of signing him? He's not exciting, he doesn't have a good win, so I have to be focused and get this right and then look forward to bigger and better fights again."
A series of firsts could help inspire Parker to a defining performance on May 2 (NZT). He's relishing training alongside other boxers, including Irish middleweight Jason Quigley and undefeated British featherweight Isaac Lowe, rather than training with just Barry.
While Parker's brother, John, recently joined him in the UK, this is the first time his full family contingent won't be ringside due to Covid-19 challenges.
"Everyone else will stay home because it's hard to get MIQ spots and get everyone up here. The team will have to miss out and watch from home but I know they'll be supporting 100 per cent. I'll pretend my mum is there and blow her a kiss."
Fury rolled out the welcome mat for Parker and Lee. They are staying at one of Fury's houses, using his gym and food providers, with sparring partners staying down the road in a hotel.
This new environment has sparked a fresh passion within Parker and should he defeat Chisora, he now plans to stay on and set up camp permanently in the UK.
"I've come here with an open mind, to be a beginner again so I can pick up things Andy is trying to teach me. I've enjoyed the whole process. It's positive energy. I'm training with a group of people, we're running together, pushing each other. It's different from training alone in Vegas. Kevin and I did some great work but this is great energy.
"Andy doesn't want to change a lot. He said there's some great things but he's tightening a few things up, correcting my stance, balance, basic things. When you become a professional and learn more and more sometimes you forget the basics of what got you there in the beginning. It's been really refreshing.
"I feel happy as a fighter and I don't think I had the same excitement as I do now. It's no one's fault, and no one is to blame, but I guess it's doing the same thing for a long time so it's great to try something new with a new voice."
In essence, Parker is attempting to rekindle the speed, movement, and combinations that carried him to the WBO crown in 2016. In his last outing, Parker chased a knockout and quickly became frustrated as Fa's awkward style made him difficult to tag in a disappointing spectacle.
Chisora is a different prospect entirely - he will come forward, bring the fight and try drag Parker into a dog fight brawl.
Fury twice defeated the now 37-year-old Chisora in 2014 and 2017 and his advice to Parker is to box, move, be smart and wait for openings.
Do that, and brush off Chisora's inevitable pre-fight antics and Parker should emerge victorious.
"He's said a lot of things, he's slapped people, he's spat on people. I don't know what to expect but I've got to be prepared for whatever he brings and don't let it unsettle me," Parker said.
"With Chisora's style hopefully it matches mine and hopefully he walks into one. That would be nice to see."
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