New Zealand boxer Joseph Parker says his doubters are only fuelling his motivation to get back to the top of the heavyweight division.
After winning his first 24 professional bouts and claiming the WBO world title in the process, Parker has lost his last two contests – leaving some doubting whether he belongs with the elite heavyweights.
But the 26-year-old insisted he’s using those criticisms to drive him on what he hopes will be a path back to the belt.
“I hear the doubters all the time, for us we use it as something to give us drive, Parker said on Thursday after confirming his return to the ring in Christchurch on December 15.
“We’re always going to have doubters and we’ll always have people that believe in us, ya know some negative and some positive.
“But it comes with what you do, you’ve just got to take it all in and use it as energy to smash the punching bag.”
Parker suffered a points loss to Anthony Joshua in a heavyweight title unification bout in Cardiff in April, before also going down on points to fellow Briton Dillian Whyte in July.
Parker’s opponent for his first fight in New Zealand in 18 months will be confirmed in coming weeks but the Kiwi-Samoan fighter from South Auckland has a rough idea what kind of opposition he would like.
“If it was me and I could lock in any fight, I’d fight Dillian Whyte again, I’d fight [Dereck] Chisora, because those guys belong at the top. I’d fight Joshua again.
“But we’re just trying to lock in anyone, anyone with a good record, good experience, someone that’s actually going to give me a good challenge.
“We dont want someone who’s just going to come in and get punched over and knocked out.”
Not that that isn’t exactly what Parker intends on doing on December 15, having not scored a knockout since his third round stoppage of Germany’s Alexander Dimitrenko two years ago.
“Yea I want a knockout. I don’t care what round it is – one, two, three, four – I want to knock someone out.
“That’s what I want to do, but it’s easier said than done.”
New Zealand’s next best heavyweight prospect, the undefeated Junior Fa, will contest the main undercard bout.
The 15-0 Fa captured the WBO Oriental heavyweight title – a belt previously held and defended nine times by Parker – in his last outing against Mexican heavyweight champion Luis Pascual.