The best thing that could be said about IBF/WBA heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua’s victory over Anthony Parker is that there was a great presentation beforehand at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, in front of nearly 80,000 patrons.
As for the fight itself, well…like I said, the production values were great.
But the only fireworks we saw on this night were those that surrounded Joshua before he entered the ring. While he easily added the WBO belt to his collection by out-pointing the Samoan (who was anything but “Wild” – and yes, that’s a 1980’s WWF reference) by the scores of 118-110 twice and 119-109.
While some observers believe this fight was closer, the reality is, for much of this fight on this Final Four Saturday, Parker was in the four corners offense – which meant literally no offense was seen from him. Yes, he did well in moving and nullifying Joshua’s offense – and maybe, to some, that’s enough to win rounds – but truthfully outside of a few innings in the middle of the bout, Parker was in survival mode.
It wasn’t much of a fight – but it wasn’t a close one either.
This isn’t to say that Joshua, who upped his record to 21-0 (20), was particularly impressive in unifying the IBF, WBA and WBO straps. Old-timers would say of this bout, ‘One guy was afraid and other guy was happy for it.’ While Parker did very little, Joshua, behind his jab, was able to enforce his advantage in size and strength and backed up Parker and kept him at bay methodically, one round at a time.
After last year’s harrowing experience versus Wladimir Klitschko, in which he was hurt and floored, could Joshua have come out of that bout a different fighter? In his subsequent two outings since that memorable affair, he went ten rounds with Carlos Takam and has gone the distance against Parker. It has been a much more measured – some would say cautious – version of Joshua, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but one must wonder if his most entertaining outings are already behind him.
The most dominant figure in this fight was Giuseppe Quartarone, an inexperienced referee at the world-class level, who was simply overmatched for an assignment of this magnitude. Quite frankly, not only was he inept but, at times, he made it seem as though it was two-on-one in there against Parker, who was having hard enough of a time dealing with the size of Joshua by himself.
So what’s next for Joshua?
A showdown with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is now front and center on everyone’s mind. While Wilder is not nearly the technician or as fundamentally as sound as the British boxer, he has the eraser in his right hand that can make up for a lot of other deficiencies. It’s an intriguing match-up and perhaps the most impactful heavyweight pairing in over a decade.
The question is not if it happens but when. First of all, Joshua and Eddie Hearn have a decision to make, in terms of what Stateside network with which they will be affiliated moving forward after their recent multi-fight deal with Showtime expired after this bout. Logic would dictate that both boxers being affiliated with one network would probably help grease the skids for this fight to come to fruition.
However the biggest hurdle here really is just what percentage Wilder and his side are willing to take here. In this particular equation, Joshua is the A-side, given he sells out football stadiums on a regular basis, while he earns tens of millions of dollars/pounds per fight. Wilder draws and earns a fraction of that amount as an American entity.
Joshua-Wilder would be a pay-per-view event and in the States, this particular revenue stream is the most robust. Meaning that to optimize this aspect of the promotion, it would have to take place in America (most likely Las Vegas). It’s not clear if Joshua – who is said to be making his U.S. debut in late August – and Matchroom Boxing would be willing to give up the home canvas advantage for the Wilder appointment.
Wilder (and more on him in a second) is hosting an international conference call on Tuesday afternoon to state his case for the fight to happen immediately. And he certainly wants this to happen sooner rather than later because, while he’s earning seven-figure purses on Showtime, he can make eight figures facing Joshua (on either side of the pond). The problem is Joshua can continue to make the same amount of money fighting almost anyone in the U.K., for the time being.
This is the fight for which the public yearns. It’s the one Wilder certainly wants.
But it may not be the one Joshua and Hearn need, for the moment.
DEONTAY IS WILDER
His exact words were: “I want a body on my record. I want one. I really do.”
According to the Urban Dictionary (which is every bit as official as Websters), “catch a body” means to murder someone.
Now, I know some fans are outraged by this statement from Wilder, especially considering we just had a ring death not too long ago and, at last check, boxing, for all its brutality and violence, still isn’t a blood sport. Plain and simple, it’s the most horrific thing that can happen in this game and anyone who has ever been involved in a fight that resulted in a fatality (like Ray Mancini and Gabe Ruelas) will tell you how haunting of an experience it truly is.
But let me defend Wilder a bit here. No, I don’t think he truly wants to commit a homicide (intentional or otherwise) in the ring and maybe he is playing up to a certain persona. Perhaps, though, because of the particular audience of that program, he was pandering and playing up to them, believing it would further help his popularity or up his all-important “street cred.” Some may disagree but if he were on with Colin Cowherd or Jim Rome, I don’t think he utters such a statement. (One of the hosts, “Charlamagne the God” actually found his statement funny and chuckled along.)
Perhaps Wilder feels he needs to be a bit outrageous and create headlines because let’s face it; he’s been poorly promoted in many ways. And say what you will – this did go viral on Friday. Hey, it got him on TMZ!
Yet, where there should be blow back on this is the fact that Wilder has more than once believed that race has played a role in him not being more popular with the general public in America. Well, does anyone of rational mind believe comments like the one he made – serious or otherwise – are going to play well in Peoria?
So OK, if he wants to “body” someone in the ring, as tasteless as that is, well, that’s his prerogative but it’s certainly an interesting juxtaposition to the week before, when he spoke out in support of “March for our Lives.”
I hope heavyweight David Price, after his most recent knockout loss to Alexander Povetkin, is never allowed in the boxing ring again, for his own good…Junior lightweight prospect Lamont Roach Jr. will face Orlando Cruz on April 19, in Puerto Rico, on a “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN” card…Word is that Jaime Munguia is no longer in the running to be a possible replacement to face unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin on May 5, if the rematch with Saul Alvarez is indeed canceled…Villanova looked awfully good versus Kansas. I think they cut down the nets on Monday night…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.