Joseph Parker: My message to Derek Chisora – and why I had to split with trainer Kevin Barry

OPINION:

Derek Chisora called me a chicken when I pulled out of my last fight. We’ll see about that, writes Joseph Parker in an exclusive column for the Herald.

There’s only one way to know if my decision to find a new trainer will pay dividends.

All will be revealed after I step into the ring against Derek Chisora on Sunday.

This is a new chapter but the only way to really find out if it is working – if I have improved or gone backwards – will be in that ring. It all comes down to fight one.

But already I would have to say that shifting to train under Andy Lee is the best decision I could have made at this stage in my boxing career.

I was with Kevin Barry for a long time and he gave it absolutely everything, did everything for me. I will always be grateful for that.

It was more than just a boxer-fighter relationship. I was like a son to him. I hear from his wife now and then, keep in touch with Kevin and his son, and they all wish me the best.

We ended it the right way by sitting down and talking about it, understanding and supporting each other.

But the fact is I had probably got too comfortable in that situation, which was also a reason why I didn’t make this move earlier. But I had become stale.

It is not easy to adjust to a new trainer. Andy said it took him about two years to adjust when he made a similar move during his outstanding middleweight career.

Tyson Fury, who recommended Andy to me, said when he made the change before his fight with Deontay Wilder, it took all of the eight-week camp to make the adjustment.

I’ve got six or seven weeks but there’s no doubt I can feel the effect of the changes.

It is a different style of coaching and one of the things Andy has really worked on is keeping me focused for the whole of every round.

I had got to a point of forgetting the basics – sometimes my stance wasn’t solid, sometimes I would switch off or have lapses.

It’s about not being lazy in the ring – all these things I thought I had, but he has made me realise I had forgotten them.

Andy watches everything I do, gives me reminders.

For example, in previous camps I would use shadowboxing to warm up and as part of the training. It would be hard work, but I wasn’t really thinking about it.

Now I’m actually puffed at the end of four rounds of shadow boxing because I am constantly thinking about what I’m doing.

And all in all, it feels as if I’ve got more energy. I used to wake at 5 o’clock, run, have breakfast, rest, wake at midday, lunch, rest, go again to the gym, and train again in the afternoon.

Here, we train at 9am and 4pm each day and sometimes only one session on a Wednesday. It was no one’s fault, but in the past, I probably over-trained and left a lot of energy in the gym and on the road.

It’s just a different way of coaching and teaching.

In terms of attitude, there are a few alterations. I chased a knockout against Junior Fa. I wanted to look good, put on a great performance, loaded up the pressure and went looking for the knockout too much.

Even at 29 years old, I still have a lot to learn. It was an amateur mistake, of trying too hard.

For this next fight, and beyond, the focus is on the game plan, letting it flow. A knockout is the goal of every fighter – it attracts attention, and it’s great to finish a fight early. Then you can go away and relax.

The trouble is, there were fights where I looked for it, and it never came. I just need to focus on the game plan and let it flow, which lets the knockout punch come naturally.

The psychological battle against Chisora will be a similar deal.

It’s hard to know what to expect from him in many ways. You never know what antics he might put on. But he tries to get into the heads of opponents.

I’ve talked that over with Andy and my brother John, who is in our camp. Andy said to go with the flow, just react to whatever happens in a way that feels natural at the time.

In the past, we would have a few things written down to counter anything someone might say or try to get in first. But again, I’ve adopted a new approach.

I can’t wait to get it on. Chisora called me a chicken when we were supposed to meet previously and I had to pull out due to a spider bite. I certainly was nor ever have been a chicken, so he and I have unfinished business.


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