Parker in 'best shape' of his career as Joshua fight looms
Joseph Parker is confident he will be in the "best shape" of his career when facing Anthony Joshua in their world heavyweight title unification bout after overcoming elbow injuries.
Undefeated World Boxing Organisation champion Parker will step into the ring against Joshua, the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association title-holder, at Cardiff's Principality Stadium a week on Saturday.
Parker feels he will at last be able to fight at full capacity having struggled with a longstanding elbow injury before an operation in December.
"We tried to schedule in surgery numerous times, but (fight) opportunities came up so we pushed back, and the past two years we've been training and fighting below 100 percent," said Parker, speaking at a work-out session in London on Friday.
"Since the surgery there's been a lot of benefits," added the New Zealander, who travelled to Manchester to beat Britain's Hughie Fury in September.
"We've been training with no injuries; this is the best camp we've had for a long time, and that's why we're so confident in putting on a great display and a great fight," Parker explained.
"I feel like I'm in the best shape I've been in. My face is a bit skinnier, and I'm also starting to see some abs come along."
- 'Mind-boggling' -
Parker's trainer, Kevin Barry, was taken aback by the boxer's progress since surgery.
"The pain Joe had to go through -- how he was even able to achieve some of the successes he's had is mind-boggling," he said.
"The surgeon sat down when he looked at the initial damage and said, 'How was he able to perform at an elite level?'."
Promoter David Higgins urged the ringside judges not to be swayed by a home crowd and score the fight fairly, even though Parker's previous fight in Britain ended in victory.
"We're grateful to the British Boxing Board of Control, this time they've opted for a balanced panel," said Higgins. "That means a neutral referee, from Italy, a neutral judge from the United States, one judge from the UK, and one judge from New Zealand.
"This fight is so big, and there's so much scrutiny on the officials, they should know they won't work again if they favour the home man, obviously."
Meanwhile Parker accused Joshua of snubbing travelling media from New Zealand and Samoa by refusing to speak to them at a workout session on Wednesday.
He did, however, speak to other reporters and it was by no means certain Joshua had deliberately avoided taking questions from overseas journalists, although that did not stop Parker drawing a comparison with his own accommodating attitude to British media.
"It's a little disrespectful because they've travelled a long way to come and see him, and they respect him, as a fighter and (for) what he's achieved," Parker said.
"We were in camp in Vegas, we had a lot of British media come over and we were very friendly.
"He (Joshua) should just be a bit more respectful in talking to everyone who was there. Hopefully in future he can make it better."
© 2018 AFP