Former heavyweight titleholder Joseph Parker returns to the ring on Saturday in his native New Zealand, facing Alexander Flores in a 12-round bout at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch.
Parker (24-2, 18 KO) is expected to win against the visiting Flores (17-1-1, 15 KO), a 28-year-old Californian whose most notable fight is a knockout loss to Charles Martin in 2014, but it’s how he wins and how he fights that seems to be concerning Parker.
He tells Sky Sports that he’s looking to change his in-ring attitude after back-to-back losses this year to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte:
“Listen, it’s good to be the nice guy, but nice guys don’t always get the job done. Now it’s time to be the guy that’s going to put on the pressure, the guy that’s going to be rough and tough. It’s time to maybe change my demeanor going into fights.”
Parker, 26, still has good years ahead of him in theory, and says he’d love a rematch with Whyte (24-1, 17 KO), who rematches Dereck Chisora (29-8, 21 KO) on Dec. 22 in Manchester. And changing his approach in the ring might be a legitimate help — he was definitely criticized for being a bit too passive in his two defeats, and we’ve seen that even in some of his victories in the past.
So if Parker is really able to get meaner and more aggressive in the ring, yeah, he could be a real handful for pretty much anyone in the division. He’s a good fighter — he’s the only guy to go 12 full with Joshua, and he came very close to rallying to a stoppage win over Whyte in the 12th round. So if he can find the thing that clicks and puts him over that hump, he’s definitely still in the mix.