Joseph Parker: “I’m financially secure, now I have to be the best”

How Andy Lee and Tyson Fury have created a new me, without a doubt, who will not stop until I reach the top

The relationship with Andy Lee 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. Every camp gets better and better.

The first camp, for the first Derek Chisora ​​fight, was okay. The second camp was better, but this has been the best of them all for Joe Joyce. There are many reasons for this. My time with Andy has meant that he has added more to what I can do in the ring. The whole setup is good. Tyson [Fury] has let us use a gym, rent a house and I’ve flown in a chef to cook everything – the first time I’ve ever done that. It’s not just been the best camp with Andy, it’s been the best camp of my career so far.

As for being away from your children, your family, you get used to it. But at the same time you never get used to it. I settled here in England because for boxing and for my career it is what I have to do and what I have decided to do. My wife is very understanding, although it is very difficult. I have four beautiful young girls at home, it is very difficult to be away from them. But to be the best, you have to surround yourself with the best.

Boxing is not something I’ll be doing until I’m 40. I have a good four or five years left to give it everything I have. When I’m back at home, worrying about spending time with my family and trying to exercise at the same time, I can’t be at my best. It’s hard, but I have to do it.

The more I think about this fight with Joe Joyce, the more excited I am because the challenge he represents is great. Not many people go looking for a fight with him. He’s good, he’s shown a lot in his career so far, the intensity he brings, the engine he’s got. But to be the best you have to fight whoever is in front of you and I think he is the best possible opponent for me at this stage of my career. I want that challenge, I want to face whatever it brings.

For me, the goal is to fight for the world title. I want to give everything I’ve got to the fight I have in front of me, and right now it’s Joe Joyce. I want to be dominant, I want to put on a showcase. I’ve only been criticized for boxing and moving in the past, but I want to do more. Tyson Fury is a friend, but also a world champion. But it would be wrong to focus on that now, I have to get past Joe Joyce first.

But being world champion 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. I used to do it for other people, now it’s for me.

It feels great to be part of that heavyweight mix and to be ranked high, but I know I can achieve more. Instead of being a defensive and passive fighter, I want to give more to the fans.

I couldn’t always do that. Joseph Parker, who fought Anthony Joshua in 2018, tried to convince himself that he belongs in the mix. Today’s Joseph Parker knows he’s confused. I’m more positive now, I don’t wait for opportunities in the circle on the back foot, I go out and take those opportunities. Now that’s a big difference.

I used to come to camp fat and heavy. It’s not a good start, mentally or physically. But now I train all the time, whether I have a fight coming up or not. Now I’m always ready, whereas back then I wasn’t.

I am very grateful to Tyson Fury, who has played a huge part in this change. He introduced me to Andy Lee, he’s given me his gym, almost his entire team and said, “That’s it, now you have no excuses.” Obviously, he lets Andy and I work on things, but when he’s around, he’s not afraid to give advice, push me, or help me.

I always thought he would come back, but whenever I talked to him, he was always adamant that he had retired. His father talked to him, his brother talked to him, and he told them he was retired as well. But he sure has been busy. He fought Dillian Whyte, then he retired, then he called out Thor, then he retired, then he kicked a taxi, he punched a wrestler, then he retired again. Seriously, I have a lot to thank him for, he’s the reason I’m here in Morecambe.

I have made Morecambe my home. People now call me “Morecambe Joe” or “Gypsy Joe” everywhere I go. The summer weather definitely helped. Then I woke up this morning, looked out the window and it’s raining. “Welcome back,” I said to myself.

When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you think about is your family. I always call them to say hello. Then I say morning prayer and do breathing exercises. There is no worry or doubt about this fight, even as it approaches.

In the past, when I was training in Vegas and I hadn’t checked all the boxes, I got suspicious. You’ve been training but not fully committed. Then you start asking yourself if you are really ready for this fight. But once you tick all the boxes, it goes away. Obviously, we are human, tiny doubts can creep in, nerves can arise, but that’s about it. I talk to a psychologist once a week, and with Andy and Tyson around, full of encouragement – ‘no one’s going to beat you’ – you just get better and better mentally. You will also become physically stronger.

BT Sport Box Office will exclusively show Joe Joyce vs Joseph Parker live on Saturday 24th September. Find out more at bt.com/sportboxoffice