Aftermath: Joshua vs Parker
Anthony Joshua was extended the full 12 rounds for the first time in his career as he added Joseph Parker's WBO belt to his WBA and IBF titles in Cardiff last night. Paul Zanon, James Oddy, Callum Rudge and Colin Harris dissect the action...
BM: How did you see / score the fight?
PZ: Apart from rounds five and six, I had Joshua winning everything else.
JO: I had it 115-113 to Joshua. It was a strange fight as I can see how you could have it much wider for Joshua as he was almost always the front foot. But to me he seemed like he was just following Parker around the ring without any real plan. The jab, which the broadcast media couldn’t stop waxing lyrical about, fell short or was slipped the fast majority of the time. Parker didn’t have much success either but he did throw some nice counter shots and was certainly elusive. Still he didn’t do enough to win. It's interesting to consider what would have happened had the referee not been so desperate to avoid a fight taking place.
CR: I scored it 117-111 to Joshua. I thought Parker nicked the opening round and a couple of the middle rounds but Joshua was the man forcing the fight and controlling the pace throughout the contest. Parker emerges with credit as he never looked in trouble but the night belonged to AJ.
CH: I scored it 117-111 to Joshua. I thought it was quite boring to be honest and my eyes were struggling in the final third of the bout, but I actually put most of the blame for that on the referee (perhaps he was previously the umpire in fencing competitions) who I thought was poor.
BM: How do you think the fight has affected Joshua and Parker's reputations?
PZ: I think both men's stock rose. Joshua showed he could last the full 12, using the jab as his attack and defence, while Parker became the first person to take AJ the distance. The fight, however, never really ignited and from that perspective was a bit of a let down. Joshua has become an even hotter property by owning a new belt, so it's all down to Eddie Hearn to produce that next level up... which we know involves a green belt.
JO: It depends who you talk to, but from my perspective both come out with their reputations enhanced. The fight proved Joshua could go 12, and, whilst it wasn’t a furious pace, he still seemed fairly fresh. He also looked better at the lighter weight. Parker was dismissed by lots of people prior to the fight but he didn't look outclassed or outgunned at any stage - he belongs at this level and given his age will come again.
CR: I think both emerge with credit from this fight. Joshua showed he can outbox an opponent who was coming to win, his ring generalship was exceptional and his performance was that of a seasoned champion. Parker showed that he belonged at this level because even though I had the fight fairly wide, Parker was competitive throughout the fight and wasn’t fazed at all by Joshua’s power.
CH: I think both finished with added kudos, even though the fight was boring. Joshua has shown he can go the full distance, and has probably found the correct fighting weight. Parker has shown he wasn't a lucky champion and probably gained more in defeat than he realises right now.
BM: When does AJ vs Wilder happen? And who wins?
PZ: Let's hope Wilder and AJ can reduce the verbals and increase the motions towards signing contracts. When (and if) they fight, I genuinely believe it's a case of who lands a big punch first. Technically, I'd say AJ brings more to the table and will be able to set the traps in his favour, before securing a a mid-late rounds stoppage.
JO: I think it’ll happen some time next year, after maybe a Povetkin fight for Joshua. I honestly don’t know which camp is or isn’t stalling - I take claims of avoidance and ducking with a pinch of salt. I’d have picked Joshua without much hesitation a few months ago but last night and the Ortiz fight give me pause for consideration. Wilder is athletic, awkward, and tough and has serious stopping power. If I really had to pick, I’d still pick Joshua, but it’d be a real 'who lands first' type of fight.
CR: That’s a good question; before last night I got the impression that Team Joshua did not want the fight and even now I think they’re happy to let it marinate. I think it happens next Summer, either at Wembley or Vegas. There’s a good chance this is Joshua’s defining fight and he’ll want maximum reward for it. Joshua would be favourite but Wilder is a live dog in this fight and can match Joshua for power and athleticism.
CH: While I think both sides do want them fight, I think they're both happy to let it build a little more (Wilder needs Joshua more than Joshua needs Wilder). I wonder if we'll see each of them in a summer defence before any possible meeting occurs (Joshua vs Povetkin / Wilder vs Whyte) and it could even be 2018 before they square off... I truly hope I am wrong and that they meet this summer, but I won't hold my breath. Joshua has to start as favourite, but on recent form I think it's 50-50 and a case of 'whoever lands first'.
BM: Does AJ (or Wilder) need to beat a comebacking Tyson Fury to be considered the 'true' champion?
PZ: Regards Tyson Fury - it's simply too speculative at this point. We're talking about a man who will have last fought almost three years ago by the time he next gets in the ring. If he's able to overcome his mental demons and show that losing seven stone has had no physical effect on him, then of course, based on his 2015 performance, he brings more than enough trouble to any heavyweight on the planet. Let's see him in a decent tune-up fight (or two), against genuine (!) ranked opposition before throwing Fury on to the AJ threat list just yet...
JO: I don’t think so. I hope Fury comes back if he’s healthy physically and mentally fit but who knows when or if it’ll happen. As such you couldn’t discount the man holding all the straps.
CR: No, I’m a firm believer in the lineage trumping any sanctioning body but Fury has retired twice and hasn’t boxed in two and a half years. I’m not convinced he boxes again until I see him ringwalk. The division has moved on from Fury and the next true champion will be the winner of Joshua and Wilder.
CH: Despite Fury having not boxed in two-and-a-half years, you cannot deny lineage: Frazier wasn't the true champ until he defeated Muhammad Ali in 1971, Holmes wasn't the true champ until he beat Ali in 1980, Tyson wasn't the true champ until he beat Spinks in 1988. Although Fury needs to actually fight before we can take his comeback seriously, Joshua has 'only' cleaned up what Fury vacated. Fury's claim is only just holding on, but due to his still young age and alleged comeback he is still relevant.