Joseph Parker Makes a Statement in Disappointing Bout
By: Eric Lunger
On Saturday night in New Zealand, Joseph Parker (20-0, 17 KO’s) was looking to move his career beyond his native islands, where he is something of a cult figure, and to join the mix at the top of the heavyweight division. Currently sitting at 7th in Ring Magazine’s ratings, Parker has not really fought anyone well known, or much of a challenge for that matter.
Enter Alexander Dimitrenko (38-2, 24 KO’s), a Germany-based Ukrainian heavyweight with 15 years of professional experience and only two losses (both against quality opposition). Dimitrenko is big (6’7”), possesses good skill and agility for his size, and was clearly a big step up for Parker.
Kevin Barry, Parker’s trainer admitted at the weigh-in on Friday that Dimitrenko was part of a plan for pushing Parker to the next level, though Barry was respectful enough to give credit to Dimitrenko for his preparation and for his potential danger as an opponent. Dimitrenko, in fact, weighed in at 253 lbs, and looked very fit. Parker was giving up 3 inches in height and 7 inches in reach.
But the real story of the fight was hand speed. Dimitrenko was clearly the larger and more powerful fighter, but that didn’t matter. Parker’s hands were simply too fast for the Ukrainian to process mentally and to defend. In the first round, Dimitrenko had good position, was establishing lead foot dominance to some extent, but every time he prepared his jab (left shoulder forward, prepping the strait right), Parker beat him to the punch, either jabbing to the body and then blasting up top, or simply countering with a left hook. The knock down with 1:40 left in the round was a result of a crisp left, right combination that Dimitrenko saw but could not defend.
In the second round, Dimitrenko was obviously trying to increase his activity level, but Parker caught him with a right hook after an awkward exchange.
Dimitrenko went down, but felt the punch was to the back of the head. Dimitrenko smiled wryly at the referee during the count, as though he knew he wasn’t going to get a break in that building. The second knock down was clearer, and again Dimitrenko simply could not cope with Parker’s hand speed.
The fight ended midway through the third round in a disappointing series of events, to say the least. Parker continued to land hard shots, and Dimitrenko began to close the distance and clinch. On the second clinch, Parker leaned on the bigger man and Dimitrenko dropped onto his left knee. With Dimitrenko down, Parker fired a vicious right-handed dig into Dimitrenko’s body. As the big Ukrainian writhed on the matt holding his ribs, referee Marlon White counted him out. Parker’s last shot came in a series of body punches. Was it a dirty punch? Probably not, Parker seemed to be finishing a sequence of blows. “Protect yourself at all times” is not just a formality in boxing, it’s an essential part of the sport. Dimitrenko hinted at this in the post fight, according to the New Zealand Herald, “He hit me, but OK, this is the boxing business, the heavyweight division. I was down on one knee but this is heavyweight boxing.”
Joseph Parker did what his team wanted him to do on Saturday. There is no question that has elite level skills and speed. Did he do enough to attract interest from the promoters of the big names in the division? Time will tell, but for me, Joseph Parker vs. Anthony Joshua would be a dynamic matchup, and a treat for boxing fans on both sides of the globe.