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Exclusive: Andy Lee - ‘The raw materials are there, Parker is getting better and better’
Andy Lee speaks exclusively to BTSport.com about his developing relationship with Joseph Parker ahead of a huge heavyweight showdown against Joe Joyce on Saturday night.
“Andy Lee is full of wisdom and I think in years to come he’s going to be one of the most sought-after coaches on the planet.”
Those were the words of BT Sport’s own Carl Frampton last weekend who was full of praise for a fighter-turned-trainer who has caught the eye since trading gloves for pads in recent years.
Joyce vs Parker: Nowhere to run
Two of the toughest men in the heavyweight division clash for the interim world title tonight. Book your seat now for Joyce vs Parker, exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office HD from 6pm.
London-born Irishman Lee enjoyed a storied career in the ring, winning the WBO middleweight world title in 2014 before hanging up his gloves three years later, exiting the sport on the back of a victory at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden.
In the years since, the 38-year-old stayed closely involved with the sport, appearing frequently as a pundit across multiple media outlets as he developed a reputation for having a sharp eye and a brilliant boxing intellect.
His subsequent transition into corner work felt like an inevitability given his clear ability in the field and after he was invited to join a new-look camp put together by Tyson Fury ahead of his rematch against Deontay Wilder in 2020, Lee has not looked back.
Speaking exclusively to BTSport.com this week, he identified the influences throughout his career that have helped shape his philosophy as a mentor.
“I have a history in this sport,” Lee said.
“My life has been boxing. I boxed from a young age as an amateur at Repton Boxing Club, I’ve been Irish champion and English champion as an amateur. I was a European medallist, world medallist, I’ve fought at the Olympics.
You can never be sure with boxing, it’s such a science
- Andy Lee
“I signed with Emanuel Steward in the Kronk gym, then Adam Booth back over here in London. I’ve worked closely with SugarHill [Steward], Zaur Antia the great Georgian coach, Nicolas Cruz the Cuban coach, Billy Walsh the Irish coach. You pick up things from all those experiences you’ve had but you still must find your own identity too, you know?
“You rely on what you know – or what you think you know. But you can never be sure with boxing, it’s such a science. There’s no one way of doing anything perfect. You don’t get a textbook on it.
“Every fighter is different, so you have to work with what they have. Training Joseph Parker is completely different to training Tyson Fury or Paddy Donovan or whoever that might be.
“There’s the gym stuff, the work, the technique and physicality through strength and conditioning – but you also must know the person. You must know how they think, get them to think like you, programme them in your image. Like I said, there’s no textbook for it, every fighter is different.”
Having fought across the world as both an amateur and professional, learning from some of the most revered coaches in the sport’s history, Lee has seen almost all there is to see in the world of boxing.
But one man left a lasting impression on Lee and remains a source of inspiration to him even long after his passing.
“Emmanuel Steward has been the biggest influence on my boxing life by far,” Lee explained.
“I was 20 years old when I went over to Detroit and up until his death, I was with him nearly every day, I was very close with him. He’s been a massive part of my life.
“Even when he passed away and I was training with Adam Booth, his words would always come back to me. When things weren’t going well, I would always think back to what Emmanuel would do.
“I still think about that now as a coach, what would he do in certain situations, how would he handle things?”
Disciples of Steward’s fabled Kronk Gym in Detroit subscribe to a philosophy of measured aggression, a desire to finish fights in style with power and poise.
“We call it just ‘the Kronk style’,” SugarHill Steward told BT Sport back in 2020.
“Get a knockout, go for it. If you don’t get it, there’s still a great chance you’re going to win versus trying to go for the win and falling short because if you fall short from the win, you know what that is? A loss.”
That mindset looks to be a perfect fit for Parker on his mission to demonstrate his evolution as a fighter since suffering back-to-back losses against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte four years ago.
We just call it 'the Kronk style'
- SugarHill Steward
The 30-year-old has since pieced together a six-fight win streak, including successive wins over Dereck Chisora on his last two outings.
However, some observers still feel Parker showed room to build on his confidence that he can finish those fights – a statement Lee partially agrees with.
“Yeah, I think so,” he replied.
“And you must have the conditioning to do it, to throw that hard punch. You need to have your energy to do that.
“You can only throw so many hard punches a round. It’s a combination of technique, strength and conditioning – but also the technique in being able to set it up and get in the position to punch hard.”
It’s easy to forget that Parker has already summitted the mountain once before having held the WBO heavyweight strap for more than a year, making two defences before coming up short against Joshua in 2018.
Still only 30 but with 32 professional fights now under his belt, the South Auckland-born Samoan is one of the most experienced men in the division but arguably has his best years still ahead of him.
“The raw materials are there for everyone to see with Joseph Parker,” Lee continued.
“It’s only becoming clear now how good he can be. As he improves, his belief grows. Those things must go hand in hand. I can see it every day with him, he’s getting better and better.
“This is a very hard fight though; we know it’s a hard fight and their styles make this fight. But if Parker can come through this, it will take him to another level because it will do him a world of good in terms of his self-esteem and how he sees himself.”
With the WBO interim heavyweight title the prize on the line for the victor this weekend, Parker can seize a piece of the world championship that would effectively confirm his claim for the next crack at whoever holds the WBO belt. the WBO belt.
Can Parker put in place everything he has learned from Lee – or will Joe Joyce become the latest man to put a speedbump in his road back to the top?
Watch Joyce vs Parker exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office this Saturday night from 6pm. Click here for all the information you need on how to order this unmissable event.