Parker v Chisora: Kiwi star reveals passion for boxing was waning under trainer Kevin Barry, refreshed for next fight

Kiwi boxer Joseph Parker admits his passion for boxing was waning under former trainer Kevin Barry and a change was needed to resurrect his career.

The former WBO heavyweight champion fights Derek Chisora in May, his first bout in eight years without Barry in his corner.

After a comfortable decision win over Junior Fa in February, Parker and Barry amicably ended a long-term partnership that featured a heavyweight title and several marquee fights against the world's best.

Parker has linked with former world champion Andy Lee - a relative of WBC heavyweight kingpin Tyson Fury - for his clash with Chisora and reveals the change of camp has freshened him up.

Speaking to iFL TV, the 29-year-old says it was the right time to split from the former Olympic boxing medallist.

"I wasn't really excited about going back to Las Vegas to train," Parker says. "I didn't have the excitement that I should have had to box. 

"I initially wanted to base myself in New Zealand, but I had a chat with Tyson [Fury] about his advice on who I should train with - that changed my approach and I joined up with Andy."

Parker doesn't want to look back on his career with any ‘what ifs’ and moving his training base to the UK plants him right in the centre of the sport’s biggest fanbase. 

"I am happy I am here in the UK, because this is where I want to be. Boxing here is massive. 

"The fans get behind the sport and get behind the boxers. I have a great support base here in the UK, so it's great to be here and great to not have to worry about travel weeks out from the fight."

Thirty-six-year-old Lee is a former middleweight champion and Fury’s second cousin.

The Irishman ended his career in 2017 with a 35-3-1 record, before turning to training, where Parker is his first high-profile fighter.

Parker immediately felt chemistry with Lee, whom he describes as "calm and relaxed".

"When it's time to train hard in the gym, he switches on and we go hard," Parker says. 

"He was pretty happy with the skills I already brought, so for him, it was about building on that and not changing anything. 

"He's tidied up a few areas and I feel that change already through the sparring that we have had. 

"Hopefully over the next few weeks, we can keep adjusting and add a few small things along the way."

The pair are training out of the famed Fury gym in Morecambe and Parker admits the occasional wandering eye from the lineal heavyweight champion is inspiring.

While they are not directly working together, Fury's input has been well received by the Kiwi. 

"The camp that we have, Andy is in control and he figures out what sparring partners we need.

"Tyson is around and he has a few suggestions on who we could spar with, but Andy runs the camp. 

"If our schedules match, we will go for a run together or whatever, so this is a good place to be training alongside the champ."

Parker is at somewhat of a career crossroads against journeyman Chisora, with a loss likely to end any hopes of a return to the top of the division.

Victory would open up a slew of potential big-name opponents, including highly touted Oleksandr Usyk or a rematch with interim WBC champion Dillian Whyte. 

But Parker’s focus is on Chisora, 37, who remains a genuine knockout threat to any top heavyweight. 

"This is the right fight at the right time for me," Parker says. "Derek is still a big name - he is a veteran. 

“He is coming off a loss, but he had some really good wins before that.

"Even in the Usyk fight, he gave a great account of himself - he brought a lot of forward pressure and threw a lot of punches, so he clearly has a lot more to give.

"He has that ability to pull a big result out of the bag, but I don't think he will do it in this fight. 

"My focus is Derek and then what comes after that will come, and when I win, that will be big fights with high stakes."

While Parker's relationship with Lee is currently for this fight only, a win over Chisora would likely keep them together in the UK for the rest of 2021, with big fights on the horizon. 

"My future will be dictated by the result on May 1 [May 2, NZ time]. 

"If we get the result, then maybe we stick around in the UK and see if a fight can be made quickly, and I can continue training here and get ready for my next fight.

"We could bring the family over here, have a bit of an extended holiday, have some fun and get ready to fight.

"If I go out there and have fun, let my hands go and do the job, I can relax a bit and enjoy life for a while." 

Join us on May 2 for live updates of the Parker v Chisora heavyweight fight.