Boxing: Rejuvenated Joseph Parker claims best yet to come with heavyweight title run in sight

Two months after his first fight under new trainer Andy Lee, Joseph Parker feels his career has been reignited.

The former WBO world heavyweight champion bested Derek Chisora via unanimous decision in Manchester, weathering an early storm from the British slugger, with Parker knocked to the canvas in the opening exchange.

But the Kiwi showed improved conditioning, and finished the fight well and truly on top of the veteran heavyweight gatekeeper.

The bout was Parker's first in nine years without Kevin Barry, with former middleweight world champion Lee taking over.

Despite the early deficit, Lee provided a calm voice throughout the 36 minutes, guiding Parker to one of the best wins of his career.

With a second training camp now underway, Parker sees small differences creeping into his skillset and tells Newshub his career has been rebirthed. 

Currently in Las Vegas, helping Tyson Fury prepare for his WBC heavyweight title rematch with Deontay Wilder, Parker truly believes the best is yet to come. 

"I'm in a great place mentally at the moment," Parker says. "I'm happy in life and I'm happy with Andy - he's really working me hard.

"Andy really allowed me to be relaxed during the fight. Having that fresh voice - the fresh ways to train and new methods - it was great.

"There was nothing wrong with the way Kevin used to run things, but I just feel this whole new set-up with Andy, I'm just so happy and I feel like this is the beginning of my career.

"This is an adventure and it's exciting, and I'm ready for what's next."

Late in the final frame of the Chisora bout, Parker, 29, had an opportunity to finish the 37-year-old, after stunning him with a right hook.

But Parker backed off and allowed Chisora to regain his composure and the fight went to the scorecards. 

That moment reiterated the feeling that Parker lacked killer instinct - a criticism that has plagued his career, with several respected pundits, including former world champion Tony Bellew, claiming he’s too nice to rule the heavyweight division.

"I think, tonight, you saw that Parker doesn't have that dirty side you need," Bellew said, after the South Aucklanders' 2018 loss to Dillian Whyte.

"He's too nice - he's not willing to go to that place you need to when the going gets tough. He got bullied by Dillian at times in that fight and it cost Parker victory.”

On reflection, Parker acknowledges he let the chance to end Chisora in the 12th round slip, and while he believes he possesses that killer instinct, his frustration is evident.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I understand where they are coming from.

"Looking back at that fight, I don't know why I stopped. I watched it back and caught myself yelling at the screen to attack.

"I had the momentum, and I have to ask myself those questions and if it happens again, finish the fight."

Parker is still in the title mix in the division, and Newshub understands a rematch against Chisora is likely for October or November. 

That bout will be confirmed if and when Parker and his management sign a contract extension with Matchroom and Eddie Hearn.

Regardless, the Kiwi is one or two wins away from another tilt at a heavyweight title.

Parker sits inside the top five in three of boxing's four major organisations, while Ring Magazine - boxing's bible - ranks him as the fifth-best heavyweight on the planet.

The quickest path to a title shot appears to be the WBO, where he could earn a mandatory title shot as soon as his next fight.

That title is next up for grabs in September, when Anthony Joshua defends it, the WBA and IBF titles against Okeksandr Usyk,

Parker is keen to see how the coming months wash up, with two marquee bouts on the horizon.

"That's [WBO] the route for us to go down - beat Derek in a convincing fashion, then see who wins between Joshua and Usyk, and hopefully fight the winner."

Rubbing shoulders with Fury - widely regarded as the heavyweight kingpin - has Parker motivated to climb the mountain again.

Parker says the work ethic and boxing knowledge of the ‘Gypsy King' is unrivaled amongst his peers. 

"Just being around him is enough," says Parker. "The work he puts in, the way he trains and how hard he trains - that mental toughness he possesses - I'm feeding off that.

"Being in this environment alongside Andy, it's a great camp to be in. Everyone just wants to get better and be better than they were the day before."

Parker has no plans to return home anytime soon, with his family currently with him in Las Vegas and likely to travel back to the UK for his next fight.

But he's not ruling out a stint with the famed City Kickboxing gym in Auckland, should he relocate back to New Zealand in the near future.

The gym houses UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and several of his talented teammates, including Junior Fa, who lost to Parker by decision earlier this year.

Parker admits he would love the chance to train with them.

"CKB has done so much for combat sports in New Zealand. If I do spend some time at home, I would love the chance to train with those guys. 

“Just look at the talent they have, with Izzy and Junior and Alex [Volkanovski, UFC featherweight champion]. 

"You never know, maybe when I'm back, I'll be like 'Hey Uso, you want to do something'.”  

As for the probable rematch with Chisora, Parker says there will be only one outcome.

"Derek won't change his style. With my improvements and now having a taste of what he brings, I know I can counter that and put him away when the moment comes."