For how long will Anthony Joshua be allowed to enjoy this gritty, gruelling victory, in the first heavyweight unification fight ever held on British soil?
Joseph Parker, a previously undefeated world champion who nevertheless arrived on these shores the overwhelming underdog, became the first man to take Joshua the distance in his professional career and even briefly threatened to drag him into deep water. But after the unanimous points verdict was announced, it took mere minutes for his efforts to be forgotten and talk to switch unceremoniously to that one remaining feudal lord of the division: Deontay Wilder.
Joshua’s most recent stoppages have come late — in the 11th against the great Wladimir Klitschko and in the 10th against Takam — but he showed little appetite to finishing this contest with a bang. Instead, he capably projects managed the final two rounds, en route to a dominant points victory. Two judges scored it 118-110. One 119-109. Those scores were probably right.
And in keeping with the elegant if the not especially exciting conclusion to the fight, there was to be no wide-eyed Wilder making threats against Joshua’s life in the ring, having hurtled the ropes from a ringside seat. The WBC champion decided against the first-class fight, instead preferring to keep his trash-talk on Twitter. “My grandma always told me if I didn’t have anything nice to say to anybody don’t say nothing at all,” he trolled. “That’s all I’m going to say, man… (I’m) the baddest man in the world, the baddest man on the planet, and that’s a fact.”
Perhaps Wilder will come to regret his travel sickness. For in his absence the former WBA champion of the world Povetkin reasserted his claim for a piece of the heavyweight pie with a sickening knockout blow against the popular David Price. The Russian had been rocked in the third. But just two rounds later he switched out the lights on Price, whose once-promising career could now be over.
Parker was dragged into the deep water immediately upon rising from his stool, as Joshua landed a succession of painful body shots which left the challenger’s breath coming in painful rips and rasps. But then he rallied, upping the ante in a fascinating fifth round which would ultimately prove to be his finest spell of the fight.
Increasing his work rate, he set about forcing a polite boxing match into a brawl. And he was moderately successful, catching Joshua with a big right hook which briefly had the champion reeling back, as he darted in with the left. But Joshua survived with something to spare. And when a small cut opened up near Parker’s left eye a few rounds later, the writing was already on the wall.
“I know the bookies say I might get a knockout but forget the hype, Parker was a world champion,” Joshua later reflected. “This was a boxing match, not a fight. Parker said this would be war, I said this would be boxing finesse.”
– independent –