Joseph Parker vows to smash Hughie Fury in WBO heavyweight title defence
A refreshed Joseph Parker has vowed to "smash" Hughie Fury in his his first defence of the WBO world heavyweight title.
Parker has brushed off questions about his form and focus as he prepares to defend the belt for the first time.
Parker takes on Fury in Auckland on May 6 and wants a statement performance, aware that an impressive showing will open the door to the lucrative UK market where the fight game, and particularly the heavyweight division, is booming.
But the Brits continue to sound less than convinced about Parker's claims to the elite ranks of the big boppers where he holds one of the coveted four belts.
Tony Bellew, who blasted his way into title reckoning by knocking out David Haye last weekend, labelled Parker "the lesser of the other champions".
And Fury accused Parker of "basic ignorance" for looking beyond him and calling out the likes of Bellew, WBC champion Deonaty Wilder and IBF champ Anthony Joshua for fights further down the line.
Parker insists his mind is on the job in hand and on the back of his first decent break since edging Andy Ruiz to win the title last December, he's ready to fire up against Fury.
"I feel refreshed, I've had a good break hanging out with my family ... did a bit of fishing, ate a lot of fish. I feel like my body has had time to heal and I'm excited to start training and to smash it. And when it comes to May 6 I will smash him," Parker said.
The four-month break is one of the longest Parker has had in a hectic schedule that has seen him fighting five times a year for the last three years on his way to crafting a 22-0 record.
"The body needed a break. I'm ready to get back into it. I'm hungry to fight again ... there's nothing like getting in the ring."
As for the criticism coming his way, mainly around his lack of height compared to the likes of Joshua, Wilder and the Fury cousins, Parker said it was motivation.
"It's good that people are underestimating me. I'm the guy from Down Under and I'm going to show them what's up. I'm going to show them what I can bring."
He insisted there were no problems with his head space around this fight.
"My focus is fully on Fury but you also have to look at the future and see what else is open. But my full focus is on him and I'll do my best to beat him, to KO him and then look at my other options."
In reviewing tapes of Fury, who is unbeaten over 20 fights with 10 KOs, Parker said his opponent was elusive, with good body and head movement, and had physical advantages with height and reach.
Parker shrugged off giving away five centimetres in height and 10cm in reach, believing he performed better against taller opponents.
There's no doubt that Parker's toughest fights have come against the more nugget Sherman Williams, Carlos Takam and Ruiz.
Parker felt he would need to be the aggressor and that must happen from the opening bell, unlike his sluggish start against Ruiz where he was forced into making up ground over the later rounds to snatch a points victory.
Parker was thrilled his promoters Duco Events had managed to secure him home advantage in a drawn out process, believing that was important for his first defence.
"After this we'll be looking to fight overseas," he said.
Parker had no worries about the doping cloud hanging over Fury who allegedly tested positive to the banned steroid nandrolone in 2015. He was suspended but had that lifted on appeal. A second hearing was postponed, allowing this fight to happen.
"The date is set, the fight is set, so hopefully they can deal with what they have to deal with and my focus is just what I have to do ... I have to get fit, get strong, get ready," Parker said.
Parker is set to start sparring work next week in Las Vegas, assembling a stable of fighters brought in to specifically match the dimensions of Fury and replicate the big Brit's style.