Joseph Parker (left) and Hughie Fury will come face to face on Saturday. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Joseph Parker (left) and Hughie Fury will come face to face on Saturday. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Hughie Fury hasn't fought for 17 months, but feels he can mount a strong challenge for the WBO heavyweight title. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Hughie Fury hasn't fought for 17 months, but feels he can mount a strong challenge for the WBO heavyweight title. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Joseph Parker hopes to make a statement in UK boxing circles against Hughie Fury. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Joseph Parker hopes to make a statement in UK boxing circles against Hughie Fury. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

MANCHESTER – New Zealand’s Joseph Parker insists he won’t underestimate Hughie Fury in Saturday’s world heavyweight title fight in Manchester. 

Parker, 25, is making his second WBO title defence against a challenger who hasn’t boxed for 17 months.

Fury, cousin of controversial former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, has been sidelined by a skin condition that left him too tired to train and then a back injury, which caused the fight with Parker to be postponed from May.

But Parker insists Fury could still pose a major threat and vowed to be at his best as he looks to make his name in the United Kingdom with a strong performance.

“I knew he hasn’t been in the ring for a while, but we expect him to come out strong,” he said at a press conference on Thursday. “I think we can adjust and adapt when the fight happens. I feel like the UK is where the heavyweight scene is at, and I want to be a part of it.

“I need to make a statement, and there’s no better way to do it than fighting a younger, hungry fighter like Hughie Fury.

“In the future, you will see me a lot more in the UK. The training camp was the hard work, and now I’m looking forward to getting my reward.”

Tyson Fury won the WBO, WBA and IBF belts with a surprise points win over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015. He has not boxed since, but was at Thursday’s press conference, where Hughie vowed to emulate his relative by pulling off a shock win of his own. 

“You can look at previous fights, but no one will have seen what I’m going to bring because this is a new Hughie Fury,” he said. 

“I’m so hungry to put on a performance. When I say I’m going to knock him out, I’m going to knock him out.”

Only 5 000 tickets had been sold for the fight earlier in the week, and it is being screened on YouTube rather than by television companies.

Boxing is booming in the UK, where 90 000 turned up to see Fury’s fellow English heavyweight Anthony Joshua, who holds two other versions of the world title, beat Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in April.

But Fury’s promoter Mick Hennessy says he never expected a sell-out crowd. “They (ticket sales) are going up by the day,” Hennessy said.

“These are two world-class heavyweights who are on the cusp of making their names and after this, one of them will be an elite fighter.

“No one was expecting to fill out stadiums with this fight, and we are happy with where it’s at. We are hoping for a crowd of about 8 000.”