THE relationship with Andy Lee just keeps getting better and better. When you’ve worked with someone for so long, you become very close, we’re pretty much like family now. Each camp gets better and better.
The first camp, for the first Derek Chisora fight, was okay. The second camp was better but this one, for Joe Joyce, has been the best of them all. There are many reasons for that. The time I’ve had with Andy has meant he has added more things to what I can do in the ring. It’s the whole setup that’s good. Tyson [Fury] has given us the gym to use, a house to rent, and I’ve flew in a chef to do all the cooking – which is the first time I’ve ever done that. This hasn’t just been the best camp with Andy, it’s been the best camp of my career, so far.
As for being away from my kids, my family, you get used to it. But then, at the same time, you never get used to it. I based myself here in England because, for boxing and my career, this is what I need to do and what I have chosen to do. My wife is very understanding, even though it’s very hard. I’ve got four beautiful young girls back home, it’s very hard to be away from them. But to be the best, you need to surround yourself with the best.
Boxing is not going to be something I’m doing until I’m 40. I have a good four or five years left where I’m going to give it everything I have. If I’m back home, worrying about spending time with family and trying to train at the same time, I wouldn’t get the best out of myself. It’s hard, but I’ve got to do it.
The more I think about this fight with Joe Joyce, the more excited I get because the challenge he represents is a big one. Not many people go looking for a fight with him. He’s good, he’s shown a lot in his career so far, the pressure he brings, the engine he has. But, to be the best, you have to fight who is in front of you and I think he’s the best possible opponent for me at this stage of my career. I want that challenge, I want to face everything that he brings.
The aim for me is to fight for the world title. I just want to give everything I have for the fights I have in front of me and for now, that is Joe Joyce. I want to be dominant, I want to put on a showcase. I’ve been criticised in the past for just boxing and moving but I want to do more than that. Tyson Fury is a friend but he’s also champion of the world. But it would be wrong to focus on that now, I have to get past Joe Joyce first.
But being world champion is what keeps me going. I already have financial security for my family and boxing has blessed me with that. Now it’s for me, now it’s to achieve everything I want to achieve. In the past, I was doing it for other people, now it’s for myself.
It feels great to be a part of this heavyweight mix, to be ranked highly, but I know I can achieve more. Instead of being the defensive, passive fighter, I want to give the fans more.
I wasn’t always able to do that. The Joseph Parker who fought Anthony Joshua in 2018 was trying to convince himself that he belonged in the mix. The Joseph Parker of today knows he’s in the mix. I’m more positive now, I won’t wait on the back foot for opportunities in the ring, I’ll go out there and make those opportunities. That’s the big difference now.
I used to come into camp fat and heavy. That’s not a good start, mentally and physically. But now I train all the time, whether I have a fight coming up or not. I’m always ready now, whereas back then, I wasn’t.
I am very thankful to Tyson Fury, who has played a huge part in that change. He introduced me to Andy Lee, he’s given me his gym, he’s pretty much given me his whole team and said, ‘This is it, now you have no excuses.’ He lets Andy and I work on things, obviously, but when he’s around, he’s not afraid to offer advice, to push me, to help me.
I always thought he would come back but whenever I spoke to him he was always adamant that he’d retired. His dad would speak to him, his brother would speak to him and he’d tell them he was retired too. But he’s certainly been busy. He had the fight with Dillian Whyte, then he retired, then he called out Thor, then he retired, then he kicked the taxi, he punched a wrestler, then he retired again. In all seriousness, I have a lot to thank him for, he’s the reason I’m here in Morecambe.
I’ve made Morecambe my home. People now call me ‘Morecambe Joe’ or ‘Gypsy Joe’ wherever I go. The weather in the summer certainly helped. Then I woke up this morning, looked out of the window and it’s raining. I said to myself, ‘Welcome back’.
When I wake up in the morning my first thought is with my family. I always call them to say hello. Then I do a morning prayer and do my breathing exercises. There’s no concerns or doubts, at all, about this fight, even as it gets closer.
In the past, when I was training in Vegas and I hadn’t ticked all the boxes, that’s when you have doubt. You’ve trained, but you haven’t been fully committed. That’s when you start to ask yourself if you’re really ready for this fight. But when you’ve ticked all the boxes, that goes away. Obviously we are human, tiny doubts can creep in, nerves can occur, but that’s it. I speak to a psychologist once a week and with Andy and Tyson being around who are full of encouragement – ‘no one will beat you’ – you just get better and better mentally. You get stronger physically, too.
BT Sport Box Office will show Joe Joyce v Joseph Parker exclusively live on Saturday 24th September. Learn more at bt.com/sportboxoffice