Just days after separating from long-time trainer Kevin Barry, Joseph Parker has made a bold new choice as mentor as he looks to revive his career.
The South Aucklander will leave New Zealand tonight for London ahead of a May 1 fight against popular and powerful Brit Dereck Chisora, a match-up expected to be confirmed by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing in the next few days.
There, Parker will call on the services of English-born Irish boxer Andy Lee, a second cousin of the man regarded as the best heavyweight on the planet right now, Tyson Fury.
The details of the arrangement are not yet known but it is expected Lee will sign a short-term contract with Parker for this fight, with a view to a long-term deal if the partnership is fruitful.
Like Parker, Lee, 36, is a former WBO belt-holder, having won the middleweight title of Matt Korobov in 2014, defending it against Peter Quillen before losing a tough fight against Billy Joe Saunders. He was the first Irishman to win a world title on American soil since 1934.
Lee retired three years ago with a 35-3-1 professional record, saying the responsibilities of fatherhood took precedence over his boxing career.
Since then he has quickly established himself as a trainer of note, working alongside SugarHill Steward to prepare Fury for his rematch against Deontay Wilder last year, which the Brit won by TKO.
Lee himself was trained by the legendary Emanuel Steward, SugarHill’s uncle, before his death in 2012, so has seen the best at work from close quarters.
While Lee, who is of Irish Traveller stock, might seem a curious choice given he lives on the other side of the world, it is understood that Parker has recently sought advice from Fury as to how he might be able to take his skills to the next level.
While Parker, 29, forged an excellent 28-2 record with Barry and became the first New Zealander to win a heavyweight world title when he defeated Andy Ruiz Jr in 2016, most punters believe his career has stalled of late.
Consecutive losses to Anthony Joshua in a unification title fight, and Dillian Whyte, have been followed by uninspiring performances against the likes of Alex Leapai and recently Junior Fa.
He has appeared to lack the power to finish fights and some have commented that even his highly touted hand speed has been dulled.
Parker needs some spectacular performances to convince Matchroom to extend his three-fight deal and thrust him back to title contention.
That path starts on May 1, when he fights Chisora.
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