After a torrid night in the ring against Carlos Takam - and a few more since celebrating the victory which puts him on the brink of a world title shot - Joseph Parker has revealed the toll his 12-week training camp took on his body which limited both his attack and defence.
A recurrence of an elbow problem, which affected his build-up and fight against Jason Bergman in Samoa in January last time out, returned during his camp in Las Vegas for the Takam clash - the longest of his professional career - and was offered as a reason why Parker's jab wasn't prevalent as usual, and why his hands hung so low on defence.
In beating Takam over 12 rounds in Manukau to win the IBF world heavyweight title eliminator, Parker received more punishment than he probably should have due to his defensive flaws.
He said his body "crashed" in Las Vegas after training three times a day, six days a week, and only came right in time for last Saturday's fight.
"The 12-week camp was too long," Parker said today. "It was good, we learned it was too long, so we won't do it again. When I first started the camp I felt in good shape but in about the eighth week the body just crashed. It hit rock bottom and I started to work my way back up again. It was good the body came right just in time for the fight."
It is understood that Parker sparred with some quality opponents during training, including Bermane Stiverne, a recent former WBC heavyweight world title holder. Stiverne, who lost his belt to current holder Deontay Wilder last year, would have put enormous pressure on Parker in preparation for his fight against the similarly tough Takam, and the accumulated punishment took a big toll.
"Over-working - training three times a day, six days week," Parker said. "When you're smashing the body and the body can't take any more, it crashes.
"The shorter camps work better for us."
Asked by the Herald about his elbow issues, and why he appeared to be stretching his hamstrings after every round, Parker said: "The right [elbow] wasn't too bad, but the left, when I went to jab and throw the overhand right, it sort of bent the arm which I think was why my arms were hanging low. It was because they were sore.
"I felt like my legs were a bit tight and that was one reason why I was standing upright [presenting a bigger target]. During the camp we practised bending down and sitting on the punches [for power] but when the fight came I felt a bit tight."
A weary-looking Parker was fulfilling his final media obligations in order to confirm his next fight against Australian Solomon Haumono in Christchurch on July 21. He will fly out for a two-week holiday tomorrow before a five-week camp for the Haumono fight.
He said he had watched a replay of the fight yesterday morning. "I can see why [trainer] Kevin [Barry] is upset. It's a learning process. With every fight you make mistakes. Some fights you look good and in some fights you don't."