Joseph Parker: the calmest man on the planet
Newsroom sports editor and part-time PR guy Steve Deane has spent the week in London managing Joseph Parker’s media commitments.
He might no longer be a heavyweight world champion, but there is one global title Joseph Parker still holds: he’s almost certainly the most chilled out dude on the planet.
As the centrepiece of the spectacular jamboree that is a top-level professional boxing promotion, the 26-year-old Kiwi-Samoan inhabits a world of chaos and collision.
When he’s not physically consumed with the challenge of trying to subdue another very large, dangerous human in what must at times feel like a suffocatingly small enclosure (actually a fairly small part of his job in terms of the time commitment) he is typically submerged in a sea of sensory invasions that would challenge even the most stable of minds.
Parker knows full well it’s all part of a crucial sales drive that makes putting his life and limb on the line worthwhile, and embraces the process wholeheartedly.
But, even so.
Ahead of his pivotal fight against bad-arsed Brit Dillian Whyte on Sunday, Parker has been pulled from pillar to post; seldom has there been a time when a camera or voice recorder has been far from his face. He’s done TV live crosses at breakfast, from parks and from Soho guitar shops; he’s held court with throngs of journalists and vloggers; posed for pictures; worked out next to food court at a mall and squared off with his nemesis on stage at a posh hotel.
Through it all (all being at best guess around 70 interviews and engagements), Parker has barely broken a sweat, and never threatened to crack a frown.
His steadfast demeanour is one of the reasons he is winning the war for hearts and minds in his “third home”.
“I shouldn’t say this,” a British journalist confided in me on Thursday. “But I really want Joseph to win.”
Asked how he maintains his constant cool, even in record-breaking British summer temperatures, Parker has a simple explanation: he really is genuinely relaxed.
“Leading up to the fight all of the hard work has been done,” Parker said just before Thursday’s at times hilarious pre-fight press conference.
“The week of the fight is about enjoying everything we are doing – the press conference, the weigh-in, and just relax.”
It is a process the recently dethroned WBO heavyweight champion of the world has become extremely comfortable.
“I’ll do a bit of training tonight. Tomorrow we’ve got the weigh-in. Before that we’ll get a bit of a shake out and make sure the blood is flowing. After that it is pretty much making sure the body is rested.
“Then we’ll go through our routine that we do on fight day; breakfast, relax, go for a team walk, chill, play cards, Playstation, a bit of music. Once we get to the arena Saturday night everything switches on.”
Even then, though, Parker will be the calmest man in his dressing room. His promoter, David Higgins – who entertained at the official press conference by questioning the notoriously volatile Whyte’s mental stability and pondering why, then, Whyte’s team had received glass water bottles while Team Parker’s were plastic – has video of Parker moments before he was called to the ring for his blockbuster fight against Anthony Joshua. With 80,000 people awaiting his entrance, Parker was all but picking daisies while scratching his naval.
Concern is simply not a currency he deals in, a fact that appears crucial to his success.
“If you’ve worked hard before the fight with training and mental things, if everything is clicking well and you know you have done everything to prepare well, then what happens, happens,” he shrugs.
The British bookmakers are typically adept at predicting what will happen. And they seem to like the cut of Parker’s jib, installing him as a clear favourite for Sunday morning’s crucial contest.
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