Joseph Parker hopes Saturday’s WBO world heavyweight title defence leads to a return trip to the UK.
The New Zealand boxer makes a second defence of his belt against England’s Hughie Fury at the Manchester Arena on Saturday and victory will keep Parker in the mix for a bigger fight down the line in what is an exciting time for the heavyweight division.
Parker (23-0, 18 KOs), who trains in Las Vegas, has already had talks about future fights with the likes of IBF-WBA champion Anthony Joshua and his fellow Briton Tony Bellew.
Joshua — the division’s No. 1 — faces Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in Cardiff on Oct. 28 while Bellew is in talks for a rematch with former champion David Haye in London in December.
“I feel like this [UK] is where the heavyweights are at the moment,” Parker told reporters on a conference call.
“I think if this goes well there are going to be a lot of fights for us in the UK. For me I just have to put on a dominant performance and knock him out. I want to dominate from the beginning.
“The reason we took this fight is that it’s a mandatory. I feel there are bigger fights out there but I can’t get to them if I look past Hughie Fury. It’s a good step up and good introduction to be fighting overseas.
“I mean if you put on a good performance, look good and beat one of their own then of course they’re [British public] going to start talking about you. For me it’s exciting. This is something new.
“They say ‘are you ready for the lion’s den?’ and I say ‘I’m the lion coming to the den’. I’m coming to show what I’m going to do in the ring and box his head off.”
Parker, 25, became New Zealand’s first world heavyweight champion with a points win over Andy Ruiz Jr in Dec. 2016 and hopes ongoing success will lead to a profile in his country as big as some of the country’s rugby union stars.
A second defence against Fury (20-0, 10 KOs) was rescheduled from taking place in New Zealand on May 6 after Fury — now inactive for 17 months — suffered a back injury. The fight has gone under the radar in the UK, with it to be shown on YouTube rather than a television broadcaster, but Parker hopes he can still create some future interest in him overseas.
The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby side, are the best in the world and Parker admits he still has more to achieve to reach their status in his home country.
“I’m taking the first step which is fighting overseas,” said Parker, who had a routine points win over Razvan Cojanu in a first defence in Auckland, New Zealand in May.
“As a world champion, you have to fight around the world. I do love fighting in New Zealand but I guess if you want to be a bigger name you have fight around the world. We are making that first step of moving overseas and making our mark around the world.
“The whole country is trying to get behind us and what we are doing in the boxing world.
“I feel with this fight coming up the country is going to get behind us like they usually do. They always show up to support, they always tune in to watch.
“Since winning the title there has been a big difference, there has been a lot more support and people wanting us to do well.”
Joshua expects Parker to prevail in Manchester this weekend and insists the Kiwi is on his future hit list.
“Hughie can outbox Parker but I’m not sure how long for,” Joshua told reporters last week.
“Maybe Parker a late-round stoppage. I’ll box Parker in the future. I’m not sure about Hughie — I spoke to him a few times a few years ago but it never happened.
“But Parker I can be sure it has to happen, we have to come together to keep the division alive. I’m not too sure what route Hughie will take.”