For the first time in his professional career, Nigerian-born British heavyweight boxer, Anthony Joshua was taken the distance before churning out a unanimous points decision over World Boxing Organisation (WBO) champion, New Zealand’s Joseph Parker to unify three of the four major titles in the heavyweight division.
Saturday night fight in front of a 78,000 capacity crowd at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, had Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs), the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association (IBF/WBA) Heavyweight champion from Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, outpointing Parker (24-1, 18 KOs), the Samoan marksman from Auckland, New Zealand, after 12 tactical rounds.
The 12 rounds victory saw Joshua the London 2012 Olympic champion coming out tops by 118-110, 118-110, 119-109 on the three judges’ scorecards and extended his perfect professional record to 21 wins from as many bouts. Joshua also adds Parker’s WBO belt to his title collections while the result inflicts on the New Zealander his first defeat in a 25-fight pro career.
Fighting out of the blue corner in white trunks, Joshua was in control throughout the bout, coasting home to a final score of 119-109 and 118-110 twice.
He was never in trouble. He was never hurt. He was never inspiring. He exerted a minimal amount of effort for a maximum amount of effect.
Parker, fighting out of the red corner in white with black trim, succeeded in foiling most of Joshua’s vaunted offense. But a good defense alone doesn’t win fights, especially when it’s not supported by meaningful punches.
Joshua drew first blood in round 10 when an errant elbow caught Parker’s eye. It added color to the proceedings, but the fight was a long over, even though the championship rounds were still to come.
The new unified champion didn’t embarrass himself. It was an acceptable performance. But if we lavish unacceptable praise on merely acceptable performances, it won’t be long before we don’t know the difference.
Every heavyweight fight from here on out is a precursor to the bout between Joshua and Deontay Wilder, which will be in 2019 if all goes according to plan. That’s a fight everyone wants to see and if I’m not mistaken, Wilder will destroy him.
To the glass half empty crowd who believe Joshua had a bad night, he said this to Sky Sports after the fight: “I am not going to judge my performance. That’s for my coach to do. My strategy was to get behind the jab and we did that. The good jab will take you around the world.
“This was about boxing finesse—I stuck to my word. I know what it takes to be a champion. Joseph Parker said he wanted a war, but it was all about boxing finesse. The main thing we cannot forget is that I am the unified heavyweight champion of the world.”
There’s no forgetting that—and it speaks volumes.
“My strategy was to stick behind the jab. I was switched on and I was focused.
“Twelve rounds baby, it was hard. This is boxing, this is what we do. Forget the hype.”
This victory moves Joshua closer to a final unification bout against American Deontay Wilder, current holder of the World Boxing Council (WBC)’s version of the title.
Wilder had been due at ringside but didn’t show and a confident Joshua, told Sky Sports, after his win was confirmed: “Wilder, let’s go baby.
“Bring him here and I’ll knock him spark out.” – Boxing.com/AFP