Joseph Parker believes Anthony Joshua's comments about being "demonised" by the New Zealander before their probable unification fight in March is evidence that the Englishman is rattled.

There will be plenty more mind games to come from both camps over the next few months, but it appears the Parker camp already have an advantage in this area, and in boxing the fight outside the ring can be just as important as the one inside it.

Read more: Joshua ready to 'overpay' Parker

Joshua said of Parker's attempts to point out his flaws – a supposed "glass jaw" and "robotic" style among them: "What's he trying? Be the big bully? Demonise everything I have done?"


The fight is close to being signed off according to Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn, who has said that he accepts he will have to "overpay" WBO world heavyweight champion Parker in order to get him into the ring.

New Zealand heavyweight boxer and WBO world champion Joseph Parker during an open training session in Manchester. Photo /
New Zealand heavyweight boxer and WBO world champion Joseph Parker during an open training session in Manchester. Photo /

All of which is music to the ears of Parker and his trainer Kevin Barry.

In an interview with the Herald in Brisbane after they attended the weigh-in of Parker's stablemate Jeff Horn, the WBO world welterweight champion, ahead of his defence against Gary Corcoran in the city tomorrow night, the pair revealed their excitement at the prospect of the deal being signed, and the fact that Joshua, the IBF and WBA "super" world champion has appeared increasingly irritated recently.

"He seems rattled, I'm getting under his skin," Parker said. "It's not really how he [normally] talks on twitter or social media but he's shown a bit more aggression lately.

"He's used to getting his own way and I think our team have done a great job to rattle him… I don't think fighters in the past have attacked him directly."

The determination of Parker and his promoter David Higgins to hold out for 35 per cent of the pot – and the fact they have an alternative opponent in Lucas Browne while Joshua does not – appears to be paying dividends.

Joshua has stated many times that he wants to unify the division, and Parker's recent accusatory tweet featuring a video in which Joshua says he's not in the sport for the money, also appears to have hit a nerve.

Barry said: "I think we've more than held our own over the last four to six weeks… the biggest thing for us is that Joe was given the respect he deserves as the WBO heavyweight champion - that was something we were very serious about. We believe now the way the negotiations have gone… that he is getting that respect.

"This is the fight everyone wants to see – it's the fight the heavyweight division really needs at the moment. There hasn't been a [heavyweight] unification fight for nearly seven years. So it is a big deal. When you've got two young guys who are both still in the early stages of their professional career, two guys who are undefeated world champions, two guys who are not the finished product yet, it makes for a sensational fight."

Parker plans to spend Christmas in Auckland and New Year in Samoa and said he was relaxed about if and when the fight deal was sealed.

Barry added: "We're getting very close now. It was important to be patient. Hey, if it happens before Christmas that would be nice… I think both teams have accepted that we want to make this fight happen and I think it's very important for both teams that this fight gets made sooner rather than later."

Once it is done, the 25-year-old Parker will head back to his and Barry's Las Vegas base for a training camp.

"The first thing we have to do is get the fight signed," Barry said. "Joe has been out of the ring a wee while. There will be a little of rust. I think we could do a good eight weeks in Vegas, a couple of weeks leading in, and a couple of weeks tapering off. I think that would be perfect.

"Joe has kept his weight down, so I think that's a real positive. I said right at the beginning regarding this fight that I needed Joe a lot lighter, a lot more mobile, in a fight against somebody like Anthony Joshua.

"Joe and I both realise we're going to be looking at making 107kg or 108kg. I think Joe is walking around now at 112kg which is very close to the weight he fought Hughie Fury [in Manchester in September]. We're in a good position. It's a matter of keeping on top of his cardio over Christmas and the New Year."

Parker is on the brink of a huge payday and admits to his excitement at that and the opportunity to test himself against Joshua, with whom he has been on a collision course almost since he turned professional in 2012.

It is understood that Joshua earned about $30million for his last fight against Carlos Takam which suggests Parker is in line for many millions himself.

Parker believes he has bigger fights in the future, but admitted the money would "set up myself and my parents and family for life. That would be a great thing for me to achieve".

Patrick McKendry travelled to Brisbane with assistance from Duco Events