by Johnny Walker
New Zealand’s undefeated Joseph Parker retained his WBO heavyweight championship tonight with a 114-114, 118-110 (twice) majority decision victory over previously undefeated challenger Hughie Fury (cousin of the more famous Tyson) at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Unfortunately, the fight set itself up early on for another one of the “controversial” decisions that have plagued boxing lately, basically meaning that any fight not ending in a knockout or TKO is suspect.
The lankier and newly muscled Fury (20-1, 10 KOs) fought well to a gameplan, in a style obviously mapped out by his trainer and father, Peter Fury, who guided cousin Tyson to his uncontroversial defeat of long reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko (who would come close, but never hold a championship strap again).
The strategy was virtually the same one that Canelo Alvarez used against slugger Gennady Golovin last week in another “controversial” decision that ended in a draw.
If, as I had contened in a previous column, this was a fight in which Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) needed to step up and impress boxing fans that he is the real deal, he failed miserably. He seemed totally flummoxed by Fury’s tactic of throwing repeated jabs, taking a half-step back and landing nifty uppercuts, leaning back hard against the ropes to take the sting off of any hard shots, and so on.
The only real damage suffered by Fury was a cut caused by what was ruled an “unintentional head butt” in round three, and a couple of “close my eyes and hope it lands” shots the increasingly desperate Parker threw as the match progressed. Make no mistake, it seemed that Parker felt his title reign was ending.
As it turned out, the New Zealand native had nothing to worry about.
It seems that in boxing, the bitter truth is that there really are no stringent criteria by which to judge a fight, and thus there will be those in Parker’s camp who will now go to great lengths to describe the reasons why their man won, reasons the eyes of many watching, including the fight’s announcers and analyst Amir Khan, must have missed.
Personally, I would put money down on former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko taking a week off from his arduous job as Mayor of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and knocking Parker out in a gym bout after a mere week’s training. How about it, champ? Proceeds could go to displaced Ukrainians, or some other worthy cause.
Anyway, of the current holders of major heavyweight belts (Britain’s Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder of the USA, and Parker), it seems that the first to go, based on tonight’s very mediocre performance against a still-learning and young Hughie Fury, will be the New Zealander.
A fight against any one of Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora, Robert Helenius, and David Haye would likely end badly for Parker.
And one can almost imagine Britain’s Haye, who has been conspicuously buddying it up with Parker and his camp recently, almost beside himself with excitement at the prospect of picking up the WBO belt (Tony who?) and using it as leverage to go after the big bux fight he dreams of: a Wembley Stadium showdown against the massive, but slightly chinny, Anthony Joshua.
With power being the last thing to go, Haye must feel that, Joshua having been stunned by Dillian Whyte and very close to knocked out by a 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko in the latter’s final fight, that he, David Haye, still has enough left in the tank to put Joshua to sleep before his failing body once again lets him down, as it did against Tony Bellew.
Even if he loses, Haye, having recently gone through what was rumored to be a costly divorce, will still come out a financial winner against Joshua. But he needs leverage to get to “AJ”, and that leverage may well be a flattened Joseph Parker, resulting in David Haye as WBO Heavyweight champion.
With the strange decision-making again going on again in this bout (how can one judge have it a draw and two others have it scored a virtual mismatch at 118-110 — do these people spend the night in the local pub before they are called to duty?), it may be that Hughie Fury is first offered a rematch, but it might be best for him to simply move on and fight some other worthy challengers to add some experience for his next title shot, which will likely come soon enough under the tutelage of Peter Fury.
Parker has been protected for the majority of his world championship “reign,” and a fight against any of the previously mentioned pugilists will likely end that reign, which went virtually unnoticed outside of New Zealand in comparison to the career of countryman David Tua, who never did win a World championship strap.
Myself, I’d take the prime David Tua who fought Ike Ibeabuchi over Joseph Parker any day–and it seems I’m not alone.