Ringside report: Joshua vs Parker
Anthony Joshua’s comprehensive 12 round points win over Joseph Parker – bringing him a third quarter of the world heavyweight pie – was far from the most exhilarating performance of his perfect 21-fight ring career but it might have been the most complete, writes Glynn Evans...
In adding the Auckland based Samoan’s WBO strap to the WBA and IBF trinkets already in his custody before a 78,000 sell out at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, ‘Big Josh’ doused dissenting views that he lacked the lungs and beard needed to dominate the sport’s blue riband division.
Twelve pounds lighter than he had been whilst huffing and puffing past African-French iron man Carlos Takam at this venue last October, AJ comfortably completed the 12-round championship for the first time against an opponent renowned for his industry.
Additionally, sharpshooter Parker – who had halted 18 of his previous 24 victims – was unable to make a dent in the 6'6' English giant’s oft maligned jaw, during the 36 minutes that this compelling contest lasted. And there were several clean connects, most notably in rounds six and eleven.
There was much else to commend about Joshua’s longest night inside the ring. Coach Rob McCracken had clearly been hard at work, both technically and tactically, ahead of this unifier. Whilst according Parker the respect merited to an undefeated world heavyweight champion, AJ boxing with commendable control, patience and discipline throughout.
He was slower from the traps than we’ve come to expect and invested in a few rounds of early reconnaissance whilst the fleet footed, fleet fisted New Zealander fizzed around him. But once he warmed into the fight, we began to witness some of the technical smarts that had taken him to a World Amateur silver and Olympic gold.
He seldom conceded ring centre and his previously under deployed left lead was consistently hard and well timed, negating Parker’s greater hand speed. Once the flighty WBO champ became more static by round four, the ‘old trombone’ allowed Joshua to rack up points and rounds. Punch stats revealed he landed 93 of 270 jabs launched. Afterwards he quipped "a right hand takes you round the block, a jab takes you round the world".
The heavy artillery that had seen all of his previous 20 victims crumble before the cards was used sporadically and, save for a violent two-way exchange in round six that was needlessly interrupted by the overly officious Italian referee Guiseppe Quartarone, he rarely threatened to break Parker’s claim of never being dropped; pro, amateur or gym.
Parker proved himself a worthy foe – sharp, strong, durable- but, while he never stopped trying, one sensed that after the turn, he stopped believing. Several meaty Joshua uppercuts in the second half helped relieve him of his ambition.
By the final quarter, both principals appeared to have resigned themselves to the fact that the fight would stretch to its full course and the outcome was a formality; though scores of 119-109 and 118-110 (twice) appeared a bit lop-sided in AJ’s favour. BM returned a 117-111 card.
It should be noted that Joshua has been a boxer – amateur and pro - for barely a decade and, still only 28, he remains a work in progress, one that has the desire, dedication and intelligence to improve significantly. Coach McCracken, never one to paint geese as swans, gave Josh a lofty ‘9 out of 10’ rating for this artful effort and the adjustments and additions evident here will surely ensure he is a more rounded, more formidable operator when he returns to duty.