Aftermath: Whyte vs Parker
Luke G. Williams, Andrew Harrison, Shaun Brown, James Oddy, John Evans, Lee Gormley, Colin Harris and Chris Williamson reflect on a dramatic night's action at the O2 Arena, as Dillian Whyte beats Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora resurrects his career against Carlos Takam...
BM: Conor Benn and Dave Allen both picked up important wins. Your impressions of these and where you think these two are going career wise?
LW: I like Benn's spirit, attitude and work ethic, plus the fact he gave Peynaud a more than deserved rematch. However he is still so crude and unschooled. He will need to be moved and matched very carefully even to get to domestic title level. Dave Allen was a hugely popular winner, of course. I don't know how many more fights he wants - he's spoken of retirement but I suspect he will now carry on and look for a high profile fight and payday against a rising heavyweight such as Joe Joyce.
AH: Benn put the record straight against Peynaud – banking ten rounds in the process – but he won't be happy with his performance. He was hoping to dominate the Parisian with improved boxing skills but he rarely looked comfortable in there. Benn would benefit from disappearing to learn his trade yet he's a victim of his own profile. He's been brought along on big bills in the UK – in the manner an Olympic champion would be. Sadly, stepping away from the limelight in order to develop is only likely to happen the first time he over-reaches and suffers a setback. Allen is another popular Matchroom 'face' who, like Benn, receives undue criticism for having a platform. In an ideal world, Allen could continue fighting on Matchroom cards against opponents of similar ability to Nick Webb. He could carve out a decent career at English title level. They should stop throwing the lad to the wolves and recognise that he can still have a career, fighting well-matched opponents of similar ability.
SB: Allen's win was spectacular. I didn't see it coming. Knowing he has that power, that shot, must give him huge confidence moving forward. His career has been resurrected. Hopefully he kicks on. A final eliminator for the British looks the way forward. With Allen it needs to be one fight at a time. Benn got the job done. At times it looked a struggle. His ring discipline went out the window despite his repeated claims he was going to box and move. I thought he was progressing pre-Peynaud but now I'm not so sure. It still needs to be small steps for Benn because I wouldn't back him against his rivals right now.
JO: I make no excuses for my bias towards Dave Allen. He is a charismatic character who also makes time for many young aspiring boxing writers. His in-ring work has never quite lived up to his potential, but we finally saw it burst into life last night. He has sparred at an elite level for a long time and has a family background steeped in the sport. I believe he can win at least a British title, if he is fit and motivated, and perhaps even a European depending on the depth at the time he steps up. Benn is certainly exciting, but he is so raw still. I have some sympathy for him, as he has been thrust into the spotlight much too early. Going to war with Peynaud, twice, makes me think he has some way to go before he can compete with the domestic cream.
JE: Despite having got there via entirely different routes, Benn and Allen are at extremely similar points of their careers. There are plenty of fighters ahead of each who would be heavily favoured to beat them on the domestic scene without looking any further than that. Both should be given low pressure, low profile eight-rounders against foreign opposition for a few months. What's the rush?
LG: Dave Allen is a very likeable guy and openly honest about himself within the sport, so it was nice to see him get a big win on the undercard. He talked about retirement beforehand but after such a surprise victory there's more money to be made before he hangs up his gloves, which will help him with whichever he does next. As for Conor Benn, he came through another tough fight against someone he was expected to get past with ease. The hype that surrounds him because of his name is seemingly having a negative effect. He didn't have much of an amateur background, which is quite telling, so he has a long way to go yet in his career progression. He is young though and this experience should help him in the long run if he remains focused.
CH: It was a great win for Allen and well-deserved, brilliant finish. I hope that they stop sacrificing him and give him a decent run at national level. It's a shame he fell short for the Commonwealth, but I'd be taking him down the Area-to-English-to-British title route over the next six or seven fights, trying to build him up in the process. As for Conor Benn: it's the 'Audley Harrison' problem of being shown to the masses from day one, but I wonder if a move to the States would do him good, maybe getting some tough love at the Kronk, for example. He is an exciting prospect and is still very young, and it was good to see him set the record straight against Peynaud while also negotiating the ten-round distance, but I think some time away from the UK would do him good.
CW: Andrew nailed it: Benn is a victim of his own profile. Multiple sponsors left as little room on Benn's shorts as his tattoos did space on his upper body. Conor is only 21 years old and would benefit from time away from the bright lights to quietly and properly learn his craft. The Peynaud rematch was an exciting but ragged display from the youngster and he has plenty to work on. Meanwhile, it was lovely to see Allen looking so happy with victory once it became clear his KO victim Nick Webb had recovered. The Yorkshireman has been thrown in very tough and although his performance was underwhelming for much of the short bout, people will only remember the right hook equaliser which ended the contest. So I think Benn moves on to further learning fights while Allen has proved he can operate at fringe British level. He definitely shouldn't stray beyond it for a little while yet in my opinion.
BM: Chisora vs Takam. Fight of the year contender? Where next for Del Boy?
LW: It was a tremendous, old fashioned 'war', and a leading contender for domesic fight of the year I would think. Both men deserve immense credit. Hearing Chisora's name chanted around the arena was quite something, considering he has in the past had plenty of detractors and has been seen as something of the 'bad guy' in several promotions. Full credit to Del Boy for soaking up Takam's pressure and finding a brilliant punch to swing the fight his way. Who would have thought he would stop the tough French-Cameroonian quicker than Anthony Joshua? I would love to see Chisora rematch Whyte or have another high profile fight. He's only 34 and in heavyweight terms these days that's still quite young!
AH: What a wonderful fight. It had everything you could ask for. It may not win the top prize at the end of the year but I'm convinced this will be my favourite moment of 2018. Chisora needs someone who will stand and exchange with him. The obvious move would be a return with Dillian Whyte – Hearn could build another PPV show around it. Aside from that, Luis Ortiz or 'Big Baby' Miller would be fun with Deontay Wilder an outside bet (I could see Wilder taking that one in the UK). Chisora's stock has never been higher.
SB: Definitely a fight of the year contender. Chisora's rope tactics, ability to take a shot, Takam's relentlessness and Chisora's ability to dig himself out the trenches. Brilliant fight. Personally I want to see the Whyte rematch. Needs to be meaningful either way. The right style, too.
JO: Certainly. I didn't have high hopes for this fight beforehand - whilst both men are tough as hell, they can look slightly pedestrian at times. But I was blown away. Del Boy has always been one of my favourite boxing characters so to see him having a career revival is great. i think he beat Whyte as well, so I hope he gets another shot at the world title.
JE: Del Boy has been my favourite heavyweight since his first fight with Sam Sexton. He has that same streak of crazy that the American heavyweights of the 1980s had. I personally feel he was thrown into the deep end way too early in his career. Anyway, it was a great fight and Del bought himself another opportunity. If they can arrange a visa, put him in with Miller. The trash talk would motivate Chisora and it would be a good test for Miller.
LG: Chisora vs Takam was superb! It was the type of fight we want to see every time two heavyweights square off. Not many backed Chisora to pull it off and he looked in plenty of trouble at several times throughout the bout, particularly when on the ropes with Howard Foster lurking. But he dug deep and secured arguably the biggest victory of his career. He's put himself in a position now where he could be matched up against some of the top names in the division or the rising stars and he will likely make them very entertaining bouts.
CH: Chisora is such an enigma, it's tough not to like him and his crazy career. It was a career-saving win and he should enjoy the moment as it was a beautiful finish which capped off a great come-from-behind victory. Considering he has been British, Commonwealth, European and Inter-bauble (x3) champion and has fought for the world title, I'm not sure where else there is for him to go unless it's another world title shot (especially after burning a bridge with the BBBofC title and failing to regain his European title). He should get a nice big payday after this performance against a top guy, possibly for a big belt... I think he'll fight for a few more years yet and end up with a gatekeeper record, while still springing the odd surprise.
CW: I wrote last night from the arena that Chisora vs Takam was a fight of the year contender and stand by that. There is nothing like a wild heavyweight brawl and this was one of the most exciting I've ever seen live, reminiscent of the swashbuckling Moorer vs Cooper clash and similar 90s mini-classics. Chisora has saved his career and can make for more exciting shootouts with squat, come forward pressure fighters. Like Allen, 'Del Boy' felt a lot of love from the London crowd on an electric night for British heavyweights.
BM: Parker vs Whyte. Your impressions and where you think the fight leaves both men and the heavyweight division.
LW: Props to Whyte, he showed a lot of heart and guts to out-tough Parker for long stretches and force the New Zealander into his shell. Although Parker showed a great chin to recover from a heavy knockdown (that would have been lights out for many heavyweights!) and immense heart during his late, almost fight-saving rally, he disappointed me. He had the advantages in skill, speed and technique but he didn't use them, and his response to Whyte's at times borderline illegal tactics showed a lack of street smarts. Whyte will probably move on to a title shot of some description, while Parker is left to rue a missed opportunity to get his career back on track. The road back to title contention is a long one for him now.
AH: One of the strangest heavyweight fights I've seen in a long time. Parker seemed the better boxer and looked superior when they traded off, yet somehow contrived to throw the fight away. Whyte is tenacious and strong but he looked overweight and sloppy throughout. I'm struggling to recall him putting a good spell together. Even his attempts at "roughing up" Parker looked agricultural. Perhaps Parker will 'pull a Karius' in the coming weeks and blame the head clash in round two (incorrectly ruled a knockdown by Ian John-Lewis, who had a disappointing night) for his lacklustre display through the middle rounds, when he often looked disinterested and happy just to coast through. I had it much closer than most, with maybe only a point or two in it (meaning the fluffed call in round two was crucial) yet felt Parker deserved to be left kicking himself this morning. He seemed far too content just to do OK, rather than win.
SB: I thought Parker was going to cruise it after four rounds. Right hand was working well. Hand speed advantage was obvious, general movement too. Whyte dragged him into his fight, Parker didn't enjoy it. Whyte chipped away and Parker seemed to fold slightly under the pressure. But then he finds a way back in, in the final two rounds. Don't know how he did it. But where was it rounds 5-10? I thought he threw it away. Whyte sensed something negative in Parker and rightly jumped on it. Whyte rolls on to an inevitable Joshua rematch in 2019, April or not. I'd like to see the Chisora rematch or a crack at Wilder. I said last night that Parker is in no man's land. He's made a ton of money but he had shown weakness yet strength when down and out. The talent is there. He's only 26. Plenty of time if he wants it.
JO: Both men deserve to be considered in the elite level of heavyweight boxing considering the depth of the division. I think Whyte won but only just. I'd like to see both men in with Wilder- I think they could give him some major problems.
JE: Whyte is a genuine hard man and I think that proved to be his biggest advantage over Parker. Without becoming the second incarnation of Roberto Duran he was rough, tough and physical in close and Parker had no answer for it. I wasn't disappointed in Parker because I don't think he's kicked on since the Dimitrenko fight back in 2016. That's five uninspiring performances in a row from the New Zealander. The last round rally when he had nothing left to lose will distract people from another lacklustre showing. To think, after the Joshua fight, there were people who said he could have caused serious problems had he been allowed to work inside. Next? How about Parker vs Browne? Whyte vs Hughie Fury would be good but with Fury seemingly set to face Pulev, then match Dillian with Jennings in November or December.
LG: Parker just hasn't looked the same fighter for some time now. He's very negative and seems to become disinterested when things don't go his way. Whyte was making it rough in there and doing everything to get the upper hand, while the wrongfully called knockdown in round two also weighed on Parker too. He started feeling sorry for himself in there and Whyte was able to capitalise until the final round. If the New Zealander had put in the effort he did in the last round just a round or two earlier then it could have ended completely differently. Indeed, an extra 20 seconds and the fight would likely have been stopped in Parker's favour! But fair play to Whyte, he got the job done and is now in line for another huge payday and world title shot. Parker will have to work his way back up and he should maybe think about employing a new trainer.
CH: I feel Parker was flattered by his WBO reign somewhat and is likely to go down as a lower-tier belt-holder when he eventually hangs the gloves up, with the AJ fight possibly being his career highlight. Now that the aura has gone I am not sure he'll recapture the heights he's previously reached. He could have had the victory over Whyte if he'd shown a little more urgency. Whyte did well, although looking a little fleshy, and surely has put himself into contention for a shot at either Wilder or Joshua. I was pleased he got the ninth-round knockdown of Parker as the second-round one was a bad call. Whyte also showed character to hang in there during the last couple of rounds. He's now on a good run of victories and deserves a title shot - but I don't think he beats either Joshua or Wilder.
CW: After a bright first round I expected Parker's speed, technical superiority and quickly established right hand to dominate the fight. Whyte, however, turned the bout into a dirty brawl and, despite flashes of quality - notably with the right uppercut - the former WBO champ seemed if not intimidated, then outworked. I loved the fight though and I'm no where near as harsh on Parker's performance as the handful of social media posts I've seen. Whyte is surely in line for one of the two champions, while Parker can come again against one of the contenders jostling for a shot at the big two.