Parker ready to make Fury pay

Joseph Parker at the weigh-in. Photo:  Action Images via Reuters
Joseph Parker at the weigh-in. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

A bullish Joseph Parker believes he will make British opponent Hughie Fury pay for the agonising wait for their heavyweight title fight.

The mandatory challenge for Parker's WBO belt at Manchester Arena tomorrow morning was originally scheduled for Auckland in early May but Fury (20-0) pulled out, citing a back injury.

Unbeaten Kiwi Parker had to settle for an unedifying and hastily arranged first title defence against Romanian Razvan Cojanu, notching a scratchy 23rd professional win via unanimous decision.

The delay also extended Fury's fight drought, having not entered the ring for 17 months for a variety of reasons.

Parker said Fury might have missed the boat by skipping the scheduled clash, at a time when he was struggling with some niggles himself.

"He should have fought me back then when I was 50 or 60%,'' Parker said yesterday.

"I'm 100% now so he's in for it.''

Parker (left) and Hughie Fury face off at the weigh-in. Photo: Reuters
Parker (left) and Hughie Fury face off at the weigh-in. Photo: Reuters

Parker (25) unleashed some bravado at the fight's final press conference, saying he could see fear in Fury's eyes when the pair conducted a stare-down at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United.

"He took a big gulp. I thought, 'mate, you're scared'.''

The taller Fury, an awkward fighter who is regarded as the underdog, adopted the same line.

"He's a good fighter but I do believe he's scared deep down because he knows that belt is coming home with me,'' the 23-year-old said.

"He's coming here as a champion but he's leaving empty-handed.''

Parker's other motivation is making a name for himself in the lucrative British boxing market.

However, interest in the fight and ticket sales have been lacklustre.

Only a small crowd was on hand for Parker's public training session while a prominent angle in the limited British media previews is Fury's apparent support of Manchester United.

The fight generated some interest earlier in the week when Parker's promotor Duco Events launched a vocal bid to have Terry O'Connor removed as the fight referee.

They succeeded, although another Briton, Marcus McDonnell, will now control the fight while O'Connor will have a say as one of three judges if the fight goes the full 12-round distance.

Parker's trainer, Kevin Barry, said his fighter had the ability to shut out distractions and is in the sort of condition to secure a knockout win.

"Joe will smile all the way to the ring like he always does, and when that bell goes, the switch will turn and the animal will come out,'' Barry said. 

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