Joseph Parker looks to derail plans for a Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder superfight
As a desert moon descended upon Las Vegas, the heavyweight champion of the world was ready to do his thing.
The casino lights of the Strip have lured others in this sport to distraction, but Joseph Parker has found refuge in his trainer’s family’s backyard.
Saturday in Cardiff, Wales, in front of 80,000 hostile fans there to root for England’s two-belt heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 knockouts), Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) will attempt to fulfill a vision he has imagined during the moonlit quiet.
“I have Joe do many errands around house — sweep out the garage, take out the trash, clean the barbecue — but I believe the most important one is when he waters the backyard at night,” Parker’s trainer, Kevin Barry, said.
“He uses that time as a therapeutic thing. Water’s calming, so he walks around out there, spraying the garden. It gives him a nice, clear head. It’s relaxed, calming as he’s out in the dark. He rolls up the hose, and he’s ready for the next day.”
Parker, 26, has trained outside Las Vegas since 2013, winning the World Boxing Organization championship in late 2016 and making two successful title defenses.
He rises for 5:30 a.m. runs through the steep hills above the home, usually trains twice daily at a new gym Barry has established less than a mile way, and employs a variety of sophisticated methods to maximize his performance.
“We try to be as thorough as we can. This is big-time boxing and we know we’re up against ‘Mr. Perfect,’” Barry said of facing Joshua. “Joe has access to the greatest training resources in the world. He might not be the finished product, but we don’t think Joshua is either.”
Yoga, deep tissue massages, weekly neuromuscular work, dry needling treatment to increase arm flexibility and strength, Epsom salt baths, daily cryotherapy and routine bloodwork is part of the cycle capped by the night-time watering.
“I’m here, just working away, being the underdog,” Parker said. “I’ve already envisioned the way it’s going to be, good movement, catching him, he’s missing shots because of my angles. I look at myself as the best in the world.”
Parker is astute about heavyweight history. His grandmother used to listen to Jack Dempsey’s heavyweight title fights on the radio and named her son Dempsey after “The Manassa Mauler,” the father pointing his toddler son to the sport.
Parker rose to champion with a majority decision over Andy Ruiz, then ventured to England to beat Joshua’s countryman, Hughie Fury, last year.
“I already know how hostile it’s going to be [in Wales], but we’re looking forward to it and the confidence comes from the training in Vegas, leaving the gym every day, knowing we’re in our best shape,” Parker said. “Many think I’ll be overwhelmed. I embrace the whole event.”
Joshua, meanwhile, might feel pressure to one-up the March 3 showing of unbeaten World Boxing Council champion Deontay Wilder, who overcame a near knockout to Luis Ortiz to KO the Cuban in the 10th round.
Parker basks in this opportunity of flying in from Down Under to disrupt the plans for the champion, who has knighthood, film work and becoming boxing’s first billionaire in the offing.
“People expect him to blast me out of there, expect him to be this perfect human being,” Parker said.
, During training Parker keeps a running loop of Joshua-Klitschko playing on big-screen televisions, keen to openings that exist.
Parker knows well of the boxing renaissance of the 1970s when multiple heavyweights — Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Earnie Shavers, Jerry Quarry, Ron Lyle — vied for the title.
“There was not just only two. They made great fights against each other, and that’s why it was a real boxing scene, and we’re getting to that now,” Parker said. “Even though a lot of people are talking about Wilder and Joshua, I’m going there to try to make my mark on the world.
“People will know who I am.”
Main Event: Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) vs. Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) for Joshua’s International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Assn. belts, and Parker’s World Boxing Organization belt
Where: Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. PDT
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire
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