How Andy Lee has helped Joseph Parker become a heavyweight contender again

There was once a mystery to Joseph Parker that carried his reputation over continents and seas. Indeed, the Auckland-born fighter with Samoan heritage had the division whispering excitedly about what he could do and how far he could go when he arrived in Manchester in 2017 to fight Hughie Fury, whilst also simultaneously making his fighting debut in the United Kingdom.  

Parker would win by majority decision to extend his undefeated record which sparked even further chatter about his ability to become world heavyweight champion. Fast forward to the present day and it hasn’t gone to plan for Parker who is no longer in line for a shot at any world title. In fact, the latest Paddy Power boxing odds tell their own story as we can see upcoming matchups between Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte, and Oleksandr Usyk to decide the next king of the division. 

At this stage, Parker is on the outside looking in but his trainer Andy Lee has warned that the New Zealander will come again and win the heavyweight title in the years to come. Of course, it all went wrong for Parker previously after he suffered back-to-back defeats against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte after beating Hughie Fury which effectively sent him down to the bottom rung of the ladder of the heavyweight division. It may seem like a high price to pay for his first taste of defeat as a professional but the truth is that you can’t afford a misstep in boxing even at the best of times, needless to say, two slips in a row and it could be fatal to the prospects of a career.

The next few years would be a complete reset for Parker who set out again on the unglamorous path of trying to stake another world title claim. Indeed, trips to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence and the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco to fight other world title hopefuls on the periphery of the division lay in wait for the Kiwi. The 29-year-old stuck to the task though and began to build up another undefeated run, but something was still missing. 

Parker looked lethargic and slow and despite his climbing up the heavyweight ladder, promoters and fans alike were left unimpressed with his performances. This eventually led to Parker changing his trainer in 2021 and bringing Irishman Lee on board.

Admittedly, it was a slow start to their collaboration with a toiling split decision win against Derek Chisora in the spring of 2021 but the two spent the next seven months in the gym, preparing Parker for the rematch in which he had to be ruthless in order to convince the onlookers that mattered that he was serious about getting to the summit of the division. 

Parker would go on to drop Chisora three times before winning by unanimous decision in a performance that has led to Lee warning the division that the 29-year-old has finally found that desire to be the best again.

Trainers do have the ability to shower their fighters with praise regardless of the reality of their actual performance but in this instance, Lee is right as Parkers’ movements were a lot quicker and the power has evidently returned to his hands. Undoubtedly, that is a direct result of Lee becoming the main voice in Parker’s corner now. 

There’s some way to go yet for Joseph Parker as he continues his ascent to the summit of the division but he is now a legitimate contender once more for the heavyweight title. 

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com