Showtime results: Anthony Joshua beats Joseph Parker in heavyweight title unification
Anthony Joshua added another world title to his collection, Saturday night in Cardiff, Wales, after receiving a unanimous decision over Joseph Parker, before a crowd that illustrated his position of power within the heavyweight division.
What the 70,000-plus fans at Principality Stadium saw, however, wasn’t a great fight, or even a stellar performance, from Joshua.
“I’m not gonna make an analysis of my performance; that’s for my coach to do,” Joshua said during the post-fight interview on SKY Sports Box Office. “My strategy in there was to stick behind the jab. It’s one of the most important weapons. The old saying is: The right hand can take you around the block but a good jab can take you around the world. And that secured another world championship belt.”
Joshua, 21-0 (20), was taken the distance for the first time in his career and cheekily joked about how hard the 12th round was, as he looked like he wasn’t really even in a fight. It was in the final rounds when Joshua sealed the victory of a chess match that was methodical and often marred by referee Giuseppe Quartarone. The Italian ref couldn’t get a grip on what was or wasn’t a clinch and he was apathetic toward the tape coming off of Joshua’s gloves, even though he tried to fix them himself during the fight. Joshua seemingly called time himself at one moment but Quartarone was so oblivious on this night, Parker probably could’ve told him what to do had he tried.
“Today I got beaten by a better champion, a bigger man. I got a lot to work on. I want to come back stronger,” said Parker, who put up his WBO heavyweight title in the match.
Parker, 24-1 (18), had a great start and was winning a jabbing contest, in the first couple of rounds. Joshua noticeably started to put more into his jabs starting in the third and that’s when the British heavyweight started to get himself into some sort of rhythm. Parker moved his head well and had a good body attack. Even though his left hand was down low, Parker had the knack to slip Joshua’s right hand in the first half of the fight. In the fifth round, the two started to get into some heated exchanges and it looked like the fight was about to really break out. In the sixth, Joshua had his best round and a few short right hands on the inside had Joshua looking uncomfortable, and even backing himself into the ropes once. After that round, Al Bernstein, who called the fight on Showtime, said Joshua was having a flat performance so far, and it was a good choice of words.
Midway through the contest, after a forgetful seventh, Joshua started to up his game in the eighth through his jab, and by taking chances with some big uppercuts. Parker, who was accidentally cut by Joshua’s elbow somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds, started to succumb to Joshua’s longer, stronger jab. The more he used his feet to get away, the less he could render a good look in the handful of close rounds, in which little happened. Joshua won the battle of distance late in the fight, and even some of the punches on his arm were affecting his movement. A short left hook from AJ backpedaled Parker late; it was another one of those punches that would sway a round in a fight like this. Parker showed some fighting spirit in the final moments of the 11th, in which the two exchanged greatly for the last time, and after a 12th in which Joshua bullied him, Parker’s fate was sealed. 118-110 twice and 119-109 were the scores in favor of Joshua and, although they seemed too wide to describe the competitive bout, Parker didn’t seem up in arms about it.
“Joseph Parker is a world champion,” said Joshua about the fight, “so I knew he was going to be determined. Sometimes this does become a boxing match, not a fight. As I said in the previous comments and interviews, this is about boxing finesse. Joseph Parker stated this would be a war; I stated it would be boxing finesse – and I stuck to my word.”
Joshua wasn’t exactly thrilled with his performance but he was certainly proud of the end result in pausing to say, “The main thing we cannot forget is, I am the unified heavyweight champion of the world.”
With Joshua, Watford, England, now the unified IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titleholder, there is only one man remaining with a belt: America’s Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight titleholder for the past three years.
“Just like Dillian (Whyte) said, ‘Wilder! Let’s go, baby! Let’s go!” Joshua joked about his stablemate’s post-fight interview, last Saturday, which was on Showtime rival HBO in the States (article link: http://ucnlive.com/dillian-whyte-slumbers-lucas-browne-calls-deontay-wilder/). When asked if he’d liked to go to the United States to dominate, Joshua replied, “No. All these years the U.K. fighters have to go to America. Everyone has to spend a heap of money to go to Vegas. We can do it local around Wembley, Cardiff; it’s local. We’re staying right here.”
When finally asked, if he can choose whom he’d like to fight next, Joshua showed no hesitation in saying Wilder but then dropped a name that can hold-up the mega fight.
“Wilder… Or (Tyson) Fury. Either one.”