SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 31, 2018 – The atmosphere inside the packed Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales generated more excitement than the main event. There’s nothing like a UK fight walk. Nevertheless, nearly 80,000 fans went home happy as their hero, British heavyweight Anthony Joshua, scored a unanimous decision victory over Joseph Parker of New Zealand. Scores were 118-110 X 2, and 119-109.
With Joshua’s defeat of Parker, Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs), is now the unified WBA/WBO/IBF heavyweight champion. Parker suffered his first loss (24-1, 18 KOs), but he took Joshua to a decision for the first time in his professional career.
“That’s life. This is boxing, this is what we do,” said Joshua. “Forget the hype, Joseph Parker is a world champion. I knew he was going to be determined. Sometimes it does become a boxing match, not a fight.”
Different fight style than expected
Declarations of war did not come to pass. It was a highly technical, tactical contest. Parker set the pace, showing his speed and boxing skills. He made himself a harder target to hit than Joshua must have anticipated. The first few rounds of the fight saw the big men circling while trying to find openings.
Parker’s jab kept Joshua at bay and off his stride, neutralizing his most dangerous punches including his wicked upper cut.
“As I said to you, this would be about boxing finesse,” explained Joshua. “Joseph Parker stated this would be a war. I stated this would be boxing finesse.
“My strategy in there was to stick behind the jab. It’s one of the most important weapons. A right hand can take you around the block but a good jab will take you around the world. I stuck behind the jab and made sure anything was coming back,” said Joshua.
The Italian job: Referee criticized for interfering in the fight
Italian born referee Giuseppe Quartarone stepped in far too quickly at times, pushing the big men apart just as they began to engage on the inside. He was not breaking up clinches. It was difficult to figure out what he was seeing. It was only his fourth championship fight and perhaps nervousness contributed to him being so quick to intervene.When Joshua found openings for his own jab, and let it lead the left hook. The overall punch output was so low, it turned out to be enough in the eyes of the judges.
Looking at the final punch count via CompuBox, Joshua landed 139 of 383 total punches (36%), while Parker landed 101 of 492 (21%). Two-thirds of Joshua’s landed punches were jabs (93/270, 34%). Parker landed 49 of 316 jabs (16%). Surprisingly, Parker had the edge in power punches, landing 52 of 176 (30 percent) compared to 46 of 113 for Joshua (41%).
Parker says no regrets, he’ll come back stronger
Parker may be disappointed, but he can hold his head high after a solid performance. The fight was far closer than the scorecards indicated. “Today I got beaten by a better champion, a bigger man,” said Parker. “It’s been a great experience to be here … No regrets, take it on the chin. The better man won the day. We’ll be back again.” Parker said he’d love to have a rematch with Joshua.
In the meantime, he said he would work hard, come back stronger, and go back to the drawing board. “I’m young, fit, I’m strong. I didn’t go down, I’m fit to go 12 rounds. He’s good, he’s a good big man. He was better on the day. But I’ll be back.”
Will fans see a true heavyweight unification fight with Wilder?
Joshua and his manager Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing lit the real fuse after the bout as the inevitable questions began about a unification fight with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder of the United States. Wilder holds the final title not in Joshua’s possession.
When asked about unifying, Joshua made his intentions clear. “Twenty-one professional fights, six world championship fights. Does that not show you what route I’m going in?
“I’m not into the hype, I’m about business. So let’s get the business down,” said Joshua. But there is one condition for Joshua and Eddie Hearn: Wilder must come to them.
“All these years, the UK fighters had to go to America, everyone had to spend a heap of money to go to Vegas. We can do it in London, around Wembley, Cardiff. We’ll stay right here,” Joshua insists. And whether it’s Wilder or Tyson Fury, Joshua doesn’t care.
Eddie Hearn holds all the cards
Hearn expressed his frustration with the American. “Deontay Wilder was supposed to here tonight. But he pulled out. Last fight (versus Luis Ortiz), he boxed in front of about six or seven thousand (people).” Speaking to the sold-out crowd in Cardiff, Hearn said to them, “Show Deontay Wilder what 80,000 people sounds like.”
Hearn continued, ”They don’t want it, they’ve never approached us. (Joshua’s) here, he fights all the champions, he wins the belts. At 22, he has the chance to be the undisputed champion of the world. Don’t forget how fast he’s moving.
Hearn dismissed whatever Wilder has had to say. “He talks the talk, he can’t walk the walk. As AJ says, if he wants to come here, he’ll get the spark knocked out.
“Listen, have you seen where he boxes? He boxes in some great venues where there’s no one there. Deontay Wilder, if you’re watching right now – this is called a show, this is called a crowd. You will not beat AJ and his people.”
Wilder posted a brief video on social media calling the decision “a robbery” of Joseph Parker. “My grandma always told me, If I don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Grandma is likely to be disappointed in the weeks to come as the posturing over a heavyweight unification fight begins.
Don’t fight it, Deontay – this fight belongs in the UK
No venue in the United States will generate the box office, hype or income placing this fight in Great Britain would generate. Joshua and Hearn have the upper hand. Let’s hope common sense prevails and money talks.
Wilder and his team including Al Haymon need to determine what few concessions they want, and move forward. Let’s hope everyone has learned the big lessons from the infamous Mayweather vs. Pacquiao delay.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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