Lean and mean Joseph Parker ready to rumble

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 09:20 24/06/2014
Joseph Parker
DANIEL TOBIN/Fairfax NZ
MEAN MACHINE: Joseph Parker has returned to NZ in top shape ahead of his fight with Brian Minto.

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A lean and mean Joseph Parker has arrived in New Zealand at a trim 102 kilograms. He is tipping the scales six kilos lighter than when he last fought, but what he has lost in weight he has gained in aggression.

The 22-year-old New Zealand heavyweight champion has just returned to the country after a camp in Las Vegas with his trainer Kevin Barry.

The pair arrived at 5.30am yesterday and were in the gym two hours later for the first of two sessions that day as part of the buildup towards Parker's fight against American Brian Minto on July 5.

Barry said a change in the training regime, lighter weight work, more cardio and less sparring were behind Parker's change in physique.

The change in attitude was all down to desire.

''It would be fair to say, this fight means a lot more to Joe than any fight before,'' said Barry.

''I can promise you this is the meanest Joe I have seen in training. We are going to see a meaner fighter. I have seen a difference in him in this camp. He wants to dominate this fight.''

Barry put the change down to maturity, coincidently illustrated by the well-groomed beard Parker is now sporting.

He said Parker also realised that Minto was a legitimate professional with a good record.

''This is Joseph's opportunity to get into the rankings and this is an opportunity he is seizing. He will make sure he takes care of business.''

Parker tipped the scales at 108kg ahead of his last fight against Brazilian Marcelo Luiz Nascimento in April.

Parker took his record to eight wins from eight fights, including seven knockouts with a seventh-round TKO victory in Germany.

The back-to-back training camps since that fight have changed focus dramatically. Weight and strength work were replaced with road work on the slopes surrounding Vegas.

The number of sparring rounds were cut in half from 130 rounds.

Barry said the change was not in response to something he saw in Parker's last fight, it was in anticipation of what he would face in the ring with Minto. 

''It was important for me, fighting a smaller opponent like Brian Minto, that Joseph be busier and more explosive in this fight. 

''For this training camp there was a big focus on cardio, we put the weights down and we focused on plyometrics and dynamic, explosive exercises.''

Standing 1.92m tall with fast hands and proven knockout power, Parker is currently about 1kg lighter than when he knocked out Francois Botha in the second round to announce himself to the New Zealand public less than a year ago.

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Barry said the lighter frame had no negative effect on strength but improved his speed.

''His strength is improved and he is faster and more mobile. Now for a guy who is quick, for me to say he is faster and more explosive is hard to say, but it is a fact.''

Minto, who has an impressive 39-7 record, is ranked 11 by the WBO.

The 39-year-old, who has mixed it with title contenders such as Chris Arreola and Axel Shulz, last weighed in at 96kg when he defeated Shane Cameron in December.

The shorter fighter, at 1.80m, likes to muscle up on the inside, but is unlikely to have Parker stand in front of him the way Cameron did when Minto scored a seventh-round TKO, and won the WBO Oriental Championship belt.

Minto will put that belt on the line to match the WBA-PABA Interim Heavyweight Championship belt Parker won in his fight with Nascimento.

- The Nelson Mail

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