Joseph Parker understood this. For the New Zealand heavyweight, the journey must take precedence over the destination.
This trip so far has seen Parker face off against Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte, Derek Chisora and Hughie Fury. As Brits they all share something in common, although only Joshua and Whyte were able to beat the 30-year-old, who went the distance against both men – just as he did in two winning efforts against Chisora and in her victory over Fury. .
On Saturday, Parker once again returns to the UK for another clash with a grieving fighter from that kingdom, hoping to get through Joe Joyce as his journey back to heavyweight gold continues.
“I have no problem if it goes 12 rounds, but I’m going to break it,” Parker said, deceptively sweet. “He’s never been with someone like me before. I know he crushes a lot of fighters, puts pressure on them and throws a lot of punches at them, but a lot of the fighters he’s fought don’t have the movement, don’t have the speed, don’t don’t have the experience. Anyone they put in front of them, he’s beaten – and he’s stopped a lot of them. I want to be the first to make him lose.
Joyce is almost as enigmatic as the soft-spoken Parker (30-3, 21 KOs). The Briton is often seen as a rising star, a perception aided by his 14-0 and knockout record, as well as the newness of his professional career following his silver medal at the 2016 Olympics; however, Joyce is 37 – seven years older than Parker.
Parker’s relative youth and experience compared to Joyce puts pressure on the Kiwi, although he draws his composure from confidence in his work with trainer Andy Lee, to whom he was introduced by Tyson Fury.
“It will be the experience, it will be the work that I put into camp and it will be the game plan that Andy Lee has come up with; all of these things together are going to beat this guy,” Parker insists, again speaking as if there’s someone else in the room he’s trying not to wake up.
“I will beat Joe Joyce on September 24, then I have to fight him again in December. There is a rematch clause, so I will have to beat him twice.
Preparing for Parker’s fight with Joyce, which takes place at Manchester Arena, has been fun. The heavyweights exchanged teasing videos, but they appear to have been sent off in good spirits.
“I’ve met Joe a few times already, and he’s a nice guy,” Parker says. “We go back and forth on social media, but ultimately we both can’t talk bullshit – and we’re not very good at it. But when we fight, we’re going to fight hard; I think that ‘we’re going to talk most of the time in the ring, the two of us.
“I think we should leave the bullshit to Tyson and Deontay Wilder, to everyone. Every fight is the same; whether it’s someone who talks a lot of bullshit or someone who’s nice, it’s the same thing. I want to go out there and do the work, and beat them.
Parker’s antagonism towards Joyce has undoubtedly been influenced by Fury, with the WBC champion having been a key part of the New Zealand native’s camp – just as Parker helped Fury prepare for a successful title defense against Whyte in April.
“When he’s around — when he’s at the gym, when we go for a run — he’s never shy about giving advice and helping out,” Parker says. “If he sees something he thinks can help, he’ll always mention it. Obviously the reason I’m in Morecambe is because of Tyson, the reason I bonded with Andy is because of Tyson. He gave us the gym to use, the house to live in and the whole team.
“He’s just a very positive person to be around when he’s training. He pushes everyone and he includes everyone. Let’s say we have body fights and there is someone here who is not really a fighter, he will include everyone. Everyone gets involved. He is very influential and has revived my career to where it is now. I’m just grateful for everything he has done and continues to do.
The winner of Joyce vs. Parker will become interim WBO heavyweight champion, meaning a clash with Fury could be on the cards next year if the WBC titleholder has achieved undisputed status by then. But Parker, who previously reigned as WBO champion, isn’t thinking about a potential fight with his friend.
“I’m not really focused on the championships at the moment,” he said. “With every fight I have I want to give a good account of myself and really show off the things I’ve been working on. Then people will know that we are not here to do anything; we are here to stay and put on exciting fights. The championship is further down the track.
That attitude has proven beneficial for Parker, who has gone on a six-fight winning streak since suffering the only two losses of his professional career, in back-to-back fights with Joshua and Whyte in 2018.
“This fighter who was fighting Joshua and Whyte, he was a good fighter who went around but wasn’t positive or aggressive. I was very passive and defensive,” admits Parker. “The fighter that I am now…I don’t want to compare, I’m a totally different fighter. I’m far from complete, but I’m learning and enjoying absorbing the things I’m taught every day in every workout.
“One day I’ll be the full package, but you’ll never stop learning. It’s very exciting; now going to the fights, I want to fight. And I have no doubts, I have no question. I know what I want and I know what I’m going to do.
Joyce vs Parker takes place on Saturday 24th September and is now available to buy exclusively from BT Sport Box Office for £19.95 in the UK. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. BST.