Before Joseph Parker and Hughie Fury turned up for their separate open workouts here in Manchester this morning NZT, two local young men in their 20s having a beer outside an Irish pub overlooking the ring set up in a restaurant and bar precinct in the city gave their summation of the two fighters.

"We're big Hughie Fury fans, but it's hard to dislike Joseph Parker, isn't it?" one said.

It was apt, because while Team Parker would probably have preferred not to promote the WBO world heavyweight title fight in such a way three days out from the bout, once Parker arrived he appeared to thoroughly enjoy himself.

With brother John in the ring with him, plus trainer Kevin Barry and Barry's son Taylor and sparring partner Malik Scott, Parker shadow boxed, skipped rope and leaned over the ropes to talk to some of the 200 or so fans who turned up.


"What's your prediction for the fight?" one of them asked. "A knockout," Parker replied with a smile. "Are you coming to the fight?" he asked.

As he moved around the ring, joking and smiling and throwing punches in Kevin Barry's direction, Fury and his father, Peter, watched intently. Later Hughie would hit the pads with Peter, but there was no interaction with the fans, many of whom left once Parker had done his thing.

If Parker had stayed to watch Hughie, he may have been given added confidence. The 23-year-old clearly doesn't have the timing or power that the New Zealander does. What he does have is home advantage but Kevin Barry said that might just add to the pressure.

"It's good to finally be in Manchester," Parker said afterwards. "Not long now, three days is it? We're pretty excited."

Asked about the reception, Parker, who arrived from London via train with his team, said: "It has been pretty friendly. There hasn't anything bad said to us or about us - that I know of.

"I think he wanted to see how we're training - good or bad - but we didn't give him much," Parker said of his opponent keeping a close eye on things. "Not much to see."

Barry said: "I expected them to be here. I know when Tyson [Fury] fought [Wladimir] Klitschko, Peter and Tyson were sitting ringside watching Klitschko work out so if they were going to do it for a fight of that magnitude I thought they would definitely be here today."

He added of the "pressure" on Parker to deliver in his second title defence: "Everyone who knows Joe and who has watched him on this journey, they know how relaxed he is and how he operates.

"Joe is not a fighter who gets anxious or suffers from nerves. He's somebody who relishes the pressure. He will smile all the way to the ring as he always does and when the bell goes the switch will turn and the animal will come out."

Parker said in reply to Fury's statement that he would win by knockout: "I back my power and I back my chin and I back my speed. And I back being in the ring and giving him a KO."

Barry said: "Joe has never been hurt in the amateurs, he's never been hurt in 100s of rounds of sparring and he's never been down in a professional fight. He has a very good set of whiskers."

Fury, an awkward figure in and out of the ring, said afterwards: "I don't think he can handle me. I know, truly, he can't.

"There's no pressure here, it's in our blood. Fighting's in our blood. We love to entertain, so there's no pressure."

Parker v Fury at Manchester Arena will be shown in New Zealand live on Sky Arena from 8am on Sunday for $39.95.