Parker’s brave bout creates new options
HE doesn’t have his world title any longer, but New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker is more marketable than ever.
Of course having three belts would have sent Parker into uncharted territory, but a circumspect Anthony Joshua now has the boxing world at his feet, after his intelligent win over the bighearted Kiwi.
Parker won over fans and pundits with his performance in and out of the ring during a busy couple of weeks in the UK.
His effort in front of 78,000 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium convinced a considerable number of doubters the 26-year-old does have a role to play in the top tier of the current heavyweights.
This performance in defeat was more impressive than his two successful defences against Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury, which had the lucrative British market dismissing him as any real threat to Joshua, or of being worthy of his WBO belt.
But good head movement from Parker, some impressive defensive work, and glimpses of a shortrange attacking game before referee Giuseppe Quartarone stepped in to repeatedly halt proceedings, brought a human element to the seemingly invincible Joshua.
The big Brit had literally walked through most of opponents in recording 20 successive knockouts till Parker became the first fighter to take him the distance.
That’s a badge of honour for Parker and a silver lining to this loss that may ultimately turn to gold.
In an ideal scenario from here, Joshua returns to his knockout ways and Parker quickly works his way back into title contention through some clever matchmaking.
Under those circumstances the question will always remain for Joshua: What about that guy you couldn’t knock out? Let’s do it again.
Ultimately it would be a hugely marketable fight a year or two down the line.
Parker, his promoter David Higgins and trainer Kevin Barry all emphasised a belief that they will cross paths with Joshua again at some stage.
They got out-manouevred in the ring in Cardiff by a leaner, sharper Joshua and openly admitted that.
But they didn’t get overpowered and that is something Joshua can never deny.
He hit Parker flush a few times but the Kiwi’s renowned chin stood the test.
After the fight Parker emphasised a strong desire to bounce back from this first loss in a 25-fight professional career.
It was pleasing to get a message from him late in the week, after a few days to clear his head and get into the comforts of his home and family environment, that read: ‘‘We’ll be back stronger’’.
Parker has millions of reasons to take it easy right now, with a bank balance the envy of any Kiwi his age. AP
The technical rather than explosive Cardiff fight didn’t demand an instant rematch, especially with Deontay Wilder and the American’s fourth belt in the unification equation beckoning for Joshua.
But scenarios can change in an instant in this current heavyweight environment and Parker’s performance should mean he will be part of any serious conversation in terms of titles and contenders.
Anthony Joshua, left, was too good for Joseph Parker but the gutsy Kiwi won many new fans.