Joseph Parker walks into his press conference a couple of minutes after the scheduled start in dark sunglasses, tailored suit, camel-coloured overcoat and cheese-cutter hat, the latter a recent acquisition in London based on his fondness for the Peaky Blinders television series.

The popular show, about a family of gangsters in post-World War I Birmingham, is notable for the brutality, cunning and ambition of its lead character Tommy Shelby, and there is a little bit of each in Parker.

The sunglasses come off, but the rest stays on, and over the next half an hour he has the mostly British media gathered in the Westminster hotel engaged, smiling, and occasionally, laughing. A few hours later he will do the same at a gym in Vauxhall situated under a railway line, the South Western train service rattling overhead.

The 26-year-old, handling the glare of the spotlight with consummate ease, appears in his element eight days before the fight of his life against Anthony Joshua in Cardiff.


Sitting alongside trainer Kevin Barry and promoter David Higgins, Parker is warm and funny, but with an occasional edge of steel. He's charming but isn't taking any nonsense.

At one stage he calls Joshua "boring" and says it's good his opponent is starting to take a verbal crack at him.

This is not someone likely to be fazed by fighting in front of 80,000 people and a television audience of millions.

The elbows are fine, now - 100 per cent, he says, before touching on Joshua's recent snub of the Kiwi media, and whether the Englishman really does have the confidence in himself that he says he has.

Parker also says he has imagined all the possible scenarios for the world heavyweight title unification fight at the Principality Stadium, his favourite being the one where Joshua is sprawled on the canvas.

"I feel like I'm in the best shape – I think you guys can tell with my face being a little skinnier than the last time I was here and also I'm starting to see some abs coming along which is a very good sign," Parker says.

New Zealand's heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker during the training session at the Hayemaker Gym in Vauxhall, London Friday March 23, 2018. Photo / AP
New Zealand's heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker during the training session at the Hayemaker Gym in Vauxhall, London Friday March 23, 2018. Photo / AP

"Since the surgery I've seen a lot of benefits. Like Kevin said yesterday, I haven't had any troubles in camp. I haven't been complaining about any issues. We've been training at 100 per cent. This is the best camp I've had in a long time. That's why I'm so confident about what we can achieve.

"It's made a big difference, and I'm looking forward to showing you guys the difference that it's made."

The jab, a Parker trademark and given the seal of approval by none other than Larry Holmes, the man with the lightning left lead, is back post-surgery, the twin operations done late last year and revealed recently by the Herald.

"We've seen it in the gym – double jab, triple jab, sometimes 10 jabs," Parker says. "So you're going to see a lot of jabs and hopefully they land in the right place – the nose, the head, the chin.

"My motivation? Being unified champion of the world; making New Zealand and Samoa proud - my family, my team, proud. I'm a boxer with talent who's been doing well, but I couldn't be where I am without my team. We've all worked hard to get here. I just want to go out there and give it my best."

What about Joshua calling you 'weird' recently? "I respect him," replies Parker. "He's a likeable guy. It's very interesting that he said that because he's sort of stepped out of his comfort zone and said something interesting.

"He's been boring lately, but it's good, you know? I think he's taken that first step and hopefully we'll see more of that."

Parker adds, regarding Joshua stripping weight and appearing leaner than he ever has in his professional career: "If he actually trusted in his body then he wouldn't be trying to change who he is. He's trying to be leaner, trying to be faster, with better movement. I don't know if he's trying to be him or me."

That one, with its delivery and finish, got some laughter from the audience.

There are more smiles and laughter later – mainly from Barry and Parker – in their friend David Hayes' gym. The cameras surround three sides of the ring as Parker warms up, stretches, shadow boxes, and skips.

Later, the British media are asked politely to leave and the gloves thud into Barry's pads as dad Dempsey and mum Sala look on. Younger brother John is in charge of the music.
There's no soundtrack to Parker's imagined combination which puts Joshua down on the Cardiff canvas. "I've played out many scenarios in my mind, but that one in particular is my best one," Parker says.

But as Barry puts it: "We'll hear them screaming from New Zealand."