Parker v Fa: 'He knows' - Parker responds to Eddie Hearn's dire warning before make-or-break fight

Former world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker acknowledges his career hangs in the balance, as he prepares to step into the ring against longtime local rival Junior Fa this week.

The bout has been a longtime coming, much anticipated and postponed from December, after Fa fell ill and required surgery.

Parker hasn't fought a significant opponent since consecutive losses to Anthony Joshua - who tooks his WBO belt - and Dillian Whyte in 2018.

With the COVID-19 further restricting his options, Parker's showdown with unbeaten Fa, only two spots behind him at No.5 on WBO rankings, seems a natural stepping stone back towards a title challenge.

But Parker's promoter, Eddie Hearn, warns that a loss against Fa could spell the end of his relevance in the heavyweight division - and the fighter agrees.

"They start trading leather on Saturday and [Parker] walks into one, his career is over," Hearns has told Newshub. "Forget fighting for a world title, he may have to retire. 

"A defeat for Joseph Parker would be catastrophic and I think there's huge pressure on him.

"He may have to retire, or he may have to come back in an eight or 10-rounder, and he may not want to have to do that."

Confronted with that video, Parker tells Newshub he has a lot to lose at Spark Arena.

"Eddie knows," he says. "Eddie knows the importance of this fight, he knows the importance of winning and winning well.

"Otherwise, if there's a loss to Junior Fa, if I walk into a shot, or he beats me on points or beats me by knockout, for me, it's a long climb back to being world champion.

"People would start questioning, 'does he have the ability to get back to the top?' It's a big risk taking this fight."

If he wins, Parker may only be one more fight away from challenging for a title again, but this fight also offers an opportunity to silence the doubters.

"A lot of people are asking, do I still have the hunger to be world champion? Do I still have it in me?

"Am I going to be conservative or am I going to let my hands go?

"There are a lot of questions being asked and for me, going into this fight, I am very excited, because I have a lot more to give the heavyweight division.

"I know I can be champion of the world again - I just have to prove it and show it."

Hearn has mapped out a path to the title that would see his protégé take on Brit Dereck Chisora later this year, followed by the winner of Oleksandr Usyk v Joe Joyce for the WBO interim heavyweight crown. 

"It's fantastic to have a clear plan in place, and a pathway of what's next and what's to come," says Parker. "I know exactly what's in front of me, but none of that is possible if I don't beat Junior Fa."

Join us on Saturday for live updates of the Parker v Fa heavyweight showdown