By Patrick McKendry in Manchester

That Joseph Parker is in enemy territory in the north-west of England this week has never been more apparent than it was yesterday.

This is the first time he has headlined a promotion away from New Zealand and the first time he has fought in the United Kingdom, and the crowd, hostile at yesterday's weigh-in before and after it descended into chaos following Hughie Fury's disgraceful push at Parker, has the potential to be even more partisan at the Manchester Arena when he defends his WBO heavyweight title.

After varying reports of expected crowd numbers, how many will actually turn up is anyone's guess, but it could be about 8000. Just over 9000 attended Parker's victory over Andy Ruiz Jr late last year at what was known as Vector Arena, a win which earned him the world title, so he is used to fighting in front of that many, but not as many baying for his blood.


It all underlines yet again how important a fast and powerful start is for the New Zealander, who is promising a knockout and may have to achieve one to be assured of a win.

He appears to have the weapons to do so. In training, his movement, flow and timing has looked world-class and his speed has never been in doubt. He is desperate to put in a statement performance to establish himself here and his ability to take a punch has also been proven.

Fury, who has won 10 of his 20 professional fights within the distance (Parker has won 18 of his 23 by knockout), will pin his hopes on his jab and ability to tie up Parker. The Englishman's reach advantage will help here, but eventually he could be worn down. The jury is also out on his ability to handle punishment of the sort Parker hopes to provide.

This has been a very different week for Parker in his still fledgling pro career, but it could be a valuable one in terms of lessons learned.

It started with his promoter David Higgins' antics at a press conference in London, which Parker appeared to view with an air of bemused indifference, and it ended with more drama at the weigh-in.

Again, Parker appeared unfazed.

The character of others has also been revealed. Hughie's cousin Tyson has treated Parker with respect so far during his career, but not yesterday, and to hear the former world heavyweight champion throw homophobic slurs at the stage as the two fighters faced off was disappointing but not surprising given his previous opinions aired on social media.

There is little doubt his inappropriate encouragement only a couple of metres from beyond the press corps pressured Hughie into his actions in shoving Parker.

The tension which built between the two fighters, who were 30cm apart, was palpable.

In the end it was Hughie who showed his weakness in reacting the way he did and for that Tyson is culpable.

Professional boxing has always attracted an eclectic crowd and that is certainly likely to be the case today. There are rumours that shadowy underworld figures are planning to attend, not that that should, or will, be on Parker's mind.

"I haven't thought about it, to be honest," he said when asked how the crowd might react if the fight goes against Fury.

"We'll see what happens.

"I've heard they can be dangerous people but I'm sure they'll be respectful," said Parker.