Anthony Joshua makes the 5th defence of his various world titles against unbeaten Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium. Sky Box Office broadcast this 12 rounder which has failed to ignite the public imagination in the way the Klitschko dustup did.
There is always some uncertainty with unbeaten fighters, of which we have two here – how good can they be? Can they take a shot? Is their record flattering? Well in Joshua’s case, he has answered pretty much every question asked of him, which is mightily impressive for a 28 year old with limited amateur experience. The question marks all remain over Parker though.
Naturally, the ‘limited’ amateur experience (only 33 fights, 30 wins) included a gift-wrapped Olympic Gold medal and that in itself was an indication of just how much potential Joshua, now 20-0 (20) had then; potential which he is realising now.
In fact, it is hard to criticise either the matchmaking or the performances of the Watford man, who has beaten good heavyweights decisively, something that Parker simply has not been able to do. We need not spend too much time looking for flaws, save to say that I prefer a quicker, lighter version of Joshua, something we did not see in his last defence against Carlos Takam in October. At a career high 254, he looked just a shade slower, though remained largely dominant against a man who had previously pushed Parker very hard the previous year. If your worst performance is a TKO 10 win against a 35-3 heavyweight then we really are clutching at straws. Joshua has ticked all the boxes, and while of course he will eventually get beaten (only Marciano remained an undefeated heavyweight title holder), he has to be considered a worthy successor to the Klitschko era.
Joshua, seen here beating Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017, has answered every question asked of him in the ring emphatically.
Rewatching the Parker v Fury fight again in a moment of insanity is something I have come to regret; 36 minutes of my life that I will never get back. It is hard to read a lot into that fight and apply it to this one of course, as they are so different. Joshua does not possess the elusiveness and awkwardness of Fury jr, while Parker is unlikely to be the role of the aggressor against Joshua as he in what was the second defence of his WBO trinket last September
However, the only revealing aspect for me was the complete lack of ring intelligence displayed by Parker that night, as he was unable to change his game plan whatsoever (I had Fury winning btw). This was somewhat surprising for one with a decent amateur pedigree (Commonwealth games runner up and 60+ unpaid fights). Looking further back, he had a life and death battle with Andy Ruiz, a short fat heavyweight moulded in the shape of Chris Arreola, again nothing like Joshua. Other moderately notable wins include the Takam fight, where he pulled it around after some mid rounds difficulty and a dominant 3rd round KO over Alexander Dimitrenko. Beyond that are just a list of nobodies in a depleted Oceanic heavyweight scene.
Parker’s win over Hughie Fury in September 2017 was a performance that could cure insomnia
More worryingly, Parker looked horrible against a big lump in late replacement Razvan Cojanu last May and struggled at times with the size of a man he was just trying to outbox. Joshua is every bit as tall and Cojanu, punches harder and is in much better shape.
Of course, this being heavyweight boxing, anything can happen. Parker can bang – most people except Hughie Fury who are that tall can; he is athletic, young and learning. But it doesn’t take a genius to work out who the favourite should be.
Parker’s game plan appears to be based on speed, as he is aware of Joshua’s immense power. While the Takam stoppage may have been a shade premature, everyone else was well and truly beaten so I guess Parker’s plan is to display his athleticism and the fact that he came back into the Fury fight in the later rounds. His mobility may cause a few problems for Joshua, but we just don’t know what will happen if he gets nailed. From this armchair, the opinion is that the type of boxer that beats Joshua is someone who can fight on the inside, not the outside as Parker does.
That said, Parker looks in good shape and the narrative is being woven that he is the one with a plan and that Joshua is unsure as to how to cope. Joshua is reportedly going to come in light, so it may turn into a bit of a foot race, with Joshua not catching up with Parker immediately. But I do believe that the Watford man is still improving and will close the show around the halfway mark. Then all the talk will be of the man on the other side of the Atlantic who is holding the last piece of the unification puzzle, Deontay Wilder.