Joseph Parker has delivered a powerful statement about wanting to hurt Dillian Whyte with a relentless early attack in their heavyweight fight in London on Sunday.

At the packed official fight press conference, occasionally intense and but at other times light-hearted and attended by more than 100 journalists at the Canary Wharf hotel, Parker spoke confidently and directly as his opponent along from him on the top table watched and listened intently.

After the staredown between the pair at the end, the 30-year-old Whyte patted Parker lightly on the face with a gloved right hand in what appeared to be a patronising gesture, but as they parted Whyte accepted Parker's offer of a handshake.

"Before I used to come into fights and I used to say 'hopefully I can catch him clean and get a knockout', but there's no 'hope' for me here," Parker said. "I'm here to do damage. I'm here to punch with bad intentions. I'm going to break him down.

Advertisement

"My opponent has been talking a lot of smack and I think sometimes smack talk is a sign of doubt. It's a sign that he's trying to convince himself and others that he's ready for this big challenge. I hope he's ready to take a lot of punches because I'm going to give it real bad."

There was very little talk from Englishman Whyte, whose "mental stability" was jokingly questioned by Parker's promoter David Higgins early in the event. There was no repeat of the "coward" insults made by Whyte for what he saw as Parker's unwillingness to do everything he could to beat Anthony Joshua in their world unification title fight in April.

Whyte's trainer Mark Tibbs came the closest to re-hashing those claims when he said: "He made all the promises about what he was going to do and what he wasn't going to do [before Joshua fight]. He pulled the wool over the fight fans' eyes and he never delivered. I felt let down myself."

Tibbs added: "We respect Joseph's pedigree and we know where he's come from and what he's done but Dillian is going to take Joseph to depths he's never felt before.

"We're going to rough him and tough him persistently and consistently and cleverly."

Whyte's best hope of a victory is via stoppage, so Tibbs appeared to be doing his best to provoke Parker into engaging in what the New Zealander said was a "war".

And Parker, 26, said he would be happy to provide one in his comeback fight from his first professional defeat. Another loss would set his career back significantly.

"Bring it on," Parker said. "He thinks I can't go to war. Wait and see."

Advertisement

Whyte, who seemed relaxed and calm but possibly less confident that Parker, said: "I've been in the game for long enough to know that talk and actions are different things. Let's see. Whatever comes I'm ready for it.

"He's been here a couple of times but no one's hurt him yet and I want to be the first to hurt him. The prediction is pain, pure pain."

Higgins, outspoken as usual beside Hearn, attempted to put the judges on notice by saying Parker had to fight Whyte plus the officials, and later confirmed he had already received a victory of sorts, with the Canadian judge, the WBC sanctioning body's choice, withdrawn from the fight.

Team Parker's issue was the judge had been inactive for too long. He has been replaced by Frenchman Christophe Fernandez, who will join Australia-based official Phil Austin and the United Kingdom's Steve Gray. "Thankfully common sense has prevailed," said Higgins.

Later, in an interview with New Zealand media, Parker expressed surprise at the lack of a verbal onslaught from his opponent.

"I thought there was going to be more trash talk. It was quite tame from him. I think it suggests he's taking this challenge seriously."

Parker confirmed he would be happy to freely trade blows with Whyte but suggested his strategy would be more subtle than that. "I'm going to box smart because that's what has got me here.

"I feel some people think I have a spoiling style. I want to prove that I can fight at the top."

The fight at the sold-out O2 Arena will be screened live on Sky Sports pay per view from 5am on Sunday NZT.
https://fanpass.co.nz/ppv/whyte-v-parker
https://www.sky.co.nz/parker-fight-competition
Patrick McKendry travelled to London with assistance from Duco Events