Helen Joseph: “My Goal Is To Be A World Champion”
By: Sean Crose
“Yeah, I prefer being a professional,” Helen Joseph says over the phone. The 15-3-1 women’s bantamweight won the World Boxing Federation Intercontinental Female Bantamweight Title with a win over Elizabeth Anderson last November and is set to face the 13-1 Tyreshia Douglas later this month. There’s more to the New Haven, by way of Nigeria, fighter than just a background in boxing, however. “Karate and kickboxing, too,” she says of her skill set. Right now, though, it’s boxing that’s the woman’s focus. And it’s a focus that thoroughly intense. “I have worked so hard to come to this level today,” she says. “My goal is to be a world champion to be the world’s best.”
Just how determined is the 29 year old known as the “Iron Lady?” She came all the way from Africa to the United States to achieve hr dream. What’s more, Joseph travels from New Haven to New York, not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away, to train. “I train in New York City at my dad’s gym,” she claims. And her home is miles away on the Connecticut shoreline? “Yeah,” she says. “This is where I stay.” Joseph undoubtedly hopes to join other Connecticut notables, such as Marlon Starling, Chad Dawson, John Scully, and the great Willie Pep.
“After this fight,” she says of the impending Douglas bout, “they’re going to give me a chance to have a world title.” Some may say that’s wishful thinking, but Joseph makes it clear that she aims to make a statement when she steps into the ring to face Douglas on the 29th of this month. “I know the way this is going to end,” she says of the bout. “It’s going to shake the world.” Still, Joseph can’t help but feel somewhat avoided. “They don’t want to fight me,” she says of the top names in her weight realm.
So, what does Joseph feel about Douglas, the opponent she’s determined to make mark against? “I know she’s pretty good and she has a lot of fans,” says Joseph. Joseph exudes confidence in the days leading up to the match. “I believe in my God and I believe in myself,” she says. Provided all goes well, Joseph may have more fans who believe in her, as well. It’s hard not to pull for someone who travels so far, who works so hard, to attain a single goal. It may not by easy “to be the world’s best,” but it’s worth keeping in mind that some hungry fighter is always there to fill the top spot.
And that there are few hungrier than Joseph.
Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker Announced for July 28th
By: Oliver McManus
LAST NIGHT we were made aware of a press conference for Dillian Whyte and an unnamed opponent – clearly, then, the Kubrat Pulev fight would not materialise. Dan Rafael from ESPN reported it was Luis Ortiz who would step in and go to war with The Body Snatcher.
Then rumours swirled about Joseph Parker – who had previously signed to fight Bryant Jennings – but David Higgins, Parker’s promoter, refuted these claims as “just hot air”. The rumour seemed to subside but if we’ve learnt anything from Higgins it’s that he’s a crafty old fox.
Photo Credit: Dillian Whyte Twitter Account
Come the announcement this morning at about 09.15 UK time – unseasonably early – we got the big fight; Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker, CONFIRMED, for July 28th at the O2 Arena.
The Pulev fight was an IBF eliminator, the Ortiz fight an eliminator for the WBC and whilst this bout holds no official status it is, arguably, Whyte’s best chance to look elite. Let’s not forget, how could we, that Parker was the first man to ever stretch the imperious, impenetrable Anthony Joshua to a full 12 rounds.
Whyte, no doubt, will be looking to better Joshua’s performance by dispatching with his Kiwi opponent in double-quick time and, in doing so, really staking a claim that “hey, look at me now”. Forget 2015, forget that first fight with AJ, Whyte will be wanting to force Anthony into taking notice of him with a performance to make the world stand up.
Parker, on the other hand, will see this as his chance of redemption and a simple route back to the top of the heavyweight scene – Jennings would have been an easier payday, a smaller payday mind, with less reward for the former WBO titlist but a win over Whyte unlocks a whole plethora of things not least the coveted ranking positions.
If Parker comes over in the same polite, respectful manner as he did against Joshua and managers to defy the expectations in beating Dillian Whyte then he establishes a fan-base in Britain and the potential for even bigger money fights.
Eddie Hearn has gone on record as saying he wants to build a “huge card” for this date in order to justify the Box Office, PPV, status but make no mistake this fight alone is worthy enough such an occasion;
Joseph Parker and Dillian Whyte are, arguably, the two best non-title holders in heavyweight boxing and, so, to see the pair square off when both had other options, is something to look forward to because there will be no lack of aggression in the ring – this will be a proper fight where both men take shots in order to enact their game-plan.
Pulev would have been a, relatively, boring fight with Whyte trying to entice Pulev out of his defensive shell and who knows what Deontay Wilder took out of the aging Luis Ortiz?
THIS IS A FIGHT.
Add to that Kell Brook on the undercard, expected anyway, alongside Daniyar Yeleussinov and you get a night of action that you simply cannot miss.
Love him or loath him, there’s no denying that Eddie Hearn keeps on pulling out fight after fight.
Showtime Boxing Results: Russell Defeats Diaz, Stevenson and Jack Battle to a Draw
By: William Holmes
Showtime has shown no signs of slowing down in putting on competitive fights with a split site double header on their Showtime World Championship Boxing telecast.
The opening bout of the night was between Gary Russell Jr. (28-1) and Joseph Diaz (26-0) for the WBC Featherweight Title. This bout took place at The Theater at the MGM Grand National Harbor in Maryland.
Joseph Diaz entered the ring first and Russell second to a much louder ovation.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
Both boxers were southpaws and Diaz looked like the bigger fighter, but Russell established early on that he had the better hand speed. He was active with his jab in the opening round and had a strong start to the fight.
Russell continued with his jab in the early parts of the second round, but Diaz had some moderate success to the body and ended the round strong.
The third round was a closer round, but it looked like Diaz was willing to take a few punches from Russell in order to land one punch of his own. Diaz ended the round with two good straight left hands.
Diaz kept a high guard in the fourth and fifth rounds but Russell landed the higher volume of punches while Diaz landed the harder shots to the body. Diaz had a strong fifth round, but Russell came back in the sixth round with his active jab and high volume output.
Russell was the first man to throw and land in the seventh and eighth rounds and looked like he was beginning to walk away with the fight. Russell hand speed was on full display in the ninth round as Diaz was simply not throwing enough punches.
Diaz had a better tenth round and took more risks than earlier rounds, but was also countered more often by the faster Russell.
The final two rounds featured several fierce exchanges, and Russell looked like he was beginning to fade a little bit in the last round, but Diaz wasn’t able to do enough to get a stoppage.
The Judges scored the fight 115-113, 117-111, and 117-111.
The last fight televised by Showtime was a WBC Light Heavyweight Title Fight between Champion Adonis Stevenson (29-1) and challenger Badou Jack (22-1-2) at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Stevenson, a southpaw, and Jack, fighting out of an orthodox stance, had spent the better part of two rounds feeling each other out and tried to find their range. Stevenson was able to land some straight left hands in the second and was more active in the third, but Jack was able to land some counters in the third round.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
Jack was able to fire off his punches first in the fourth round but took a good left uppercut from Stevenson with about thirty seconds left. Stevenson was the aggressor in the fifth and sixth rounds while Jack fought mainly out of a tight high guard. Jack was warned for a low blow at the end of the sixth round.
Jack started to come forward in the seventh round and hurt Stevenson with a short right hand followed up by combinations. Jack was snapping the head of Stevenson in the seventh with his uppercuts, but he was warned for a low blow again at the end of the round.
Jack opened up the eighth round with another low blow and Adonis Stevenson was given time to recover. Jack followed up with short right hooks and uppercuts and was able to bust open the nose of Badou jack.
Jack looked like the fresher fighter in the ninth round and had Stevenson stumbling at one point. Stevenson was able to come back and have a strong tenth round when he hurt Jack with a body shot and had Jack peddling backwards.
Stevenson pressed the pace early on in the eleventh round and had Jack in full retreat, but he tired in the middle of the round and Jack re-established dominance in the ring.
Both boxers were able to land some good shots in the final round, but Jack ended the fight strong with a hard combination as the final bell rang.
The judges scored the bout 114-114, 115-113 Jack, 114-114 for a majority draw.
Adonis Steven retains the title with a draw.
Showtime Boxing Preview: Stevenson vs. Jack, Russell vs. Diaz
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Showtime network will broadcast two fights from two separate locations on a split site feature.
One fight will feature a WBC Light Heavyweight Title Fight between current champion Adonis Stevenson and the Swedish fighter Badou Jack. This bout will be taking place in Toronto, Canada at the Air Canada Centre. The other bout will be a WBC Featherweight Title between Gary Russell Jr. and Joseph Diaz Jr.
Photo Credit: Badou Jack Twitter Account
The following is a preview of both televised fights.
Adonis Stevenson (29-1) vs. Badou Jack (22-1-2); WBC Light Heavyweight Title
Adonis Stevenson has often been mentioned as one of the best light heavyweights in the world along with Sergei Kovalev and Andre Ward, but neither of those fights have ever come to fruition and he’s no forty years old and past his athletic prime.
Stevenson will face a very tough opponent in Badou Jack. Jack is six years younger than Stevenson, but has also been more active. He fought twice in 2017 and once in 2016, while Stevenson only fought once in 2017 and once in 2016.
Stevenson will also be giving up about two inches in height to Jack, but he will have a four inch reach advantage. Stevenson will be fighting in his home country which shouldn’t be a big surpise since he has only fought outside of Canada two times. This will be Jack’s first fight outside of the United States since 2010.
Both boxers had successful amateur careers. Stevenson was a Canadian National Champion and Jack was a Swedish National Champion and a competitor in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Andrzej Fonfara, Thomas Williams Jr., Tommy Karpency, Sakio Bika, Tony Bellew, Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, and Donovan George. His lone loss was the Darnell Boone, which he later avenged.
Jack also has a good professional resume, though his level of competition in recent fights surpasses that of Stevenson. His lone loss was a shocking TKO upset loss to Derek Edwards in 2014. He has two draws against James DeGale and Marco Antonio Periban. He has defeated the likes of Nathan Cleverly, Lucian Bute, George Groves, Anthony Dirrell, and Marco Antonio Periban.
If this fight happened five years ago Stevenson would have to be considered the favorite. But he’s now forty years old and has been fairly inactive recently while Jack has been steadily facing tougher and tougher competition.
If this fight goes to the Judges scorecards Stevenson may have a slight edge since the fight is happening in Canada, but the timing feels right for Jack to pull off a victory.
Gary Russell Jr. (28-1) vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. (26-0); WBC Featherweight Title
Golden Boy Promotions needs to be given credit for their willingness to throw their fighters in the ring with top fighters from other promotions. The Diaz-Russell fight is a good example of Golden Boy taking a risk by putting one of their top guys against an established champion.
Diaz is twenty five and will be four years younger than Russell. However, Joseph Diaz has been very active since 2016. He fought once in 2018, twice in 2017 and four times in 2016. Russell only fought once in 2017, 2016, and in 2015.
Diaz will have about an inch and a half reach height advantage and both boxers have the same reach. They both represented the United States in the Summer Olympics, Russell in 2008 and Diaz in 2012.
Diaz is a southpaw, and the only boxer that Russell lost to, Vasyl Lomachenko, was a southpaw. It will be interesting to see what adjustments Russell has made since he last fought Lomachenko.
Russell represents the biggest test of Diaz’s young career. He has defeated the likes of Victor Terrazas, Rafael Rivera, Manuel Avila, Jayson Velez, and Ruben Tamayo.
Russell has been fairly inactive for a world champion, but has defeated some very good fighters. He has defeated the likes of Oscar Escandon, Patrick Hyland, Jhonny Gonzlaez, and Christopher Martin. His lone loss was the Vasyl Lomachenko, who has since jumped up two weight classes to dethrone Jorge Linares as the Lightweight Champion.
Russell’s inactivity should be of concern to his camp, especially since he’s facing a young, undefeated, challenger who has a strong amateur pedigree.
This fight will be close, but age and activity has this writer giving Diaz a slight edge on Saturday night.
What’s Next for Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker
By: Oliver McManus
When the dust settled in Cardiff on Saturday night, the 80,000 fans made their way home and the blood on the canvas was wiped clean, there were two people left in their dressing rooms to ponder over the contrasting future career trajectories they were left with.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing/Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker went toe-to-toe at the Principality Stadium for the unified WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles of the world in a bruising encounter that saw the British fighting pride move to 21 and 0, one step closer to the title of undisputed heavyweight champion.
Joseph Parker, who fell short in the fight , will have several options following his career high pay day and New Zealand’s first ever heavyweight champion has already seen his stock rise past that of, national legend, David Tua.
For Parker and his promoter David Higgins it was always a brave move to take on Anthony Joshua especially after launching such a strong social media campaign pre-agreement to “bait” AJ and Eddie Hearn into taking the fight. The talk was strong, the game plan was calculated but ultimately not enough.
Truth be told Parker hasn’t particularly impressed in any of his world-title fights; he edged out Andy Ruiz to claim the vacant WBO title in a fight that saw neither styles click; against late-replacement Razvan Cojanu he looked lacklustre; and against mandatory challenger Hughie Fury he looked slow and less than 100%.
Despite this Parker has proven before that he has the talent demanded from world level boxing, in particular with his clash with Carlos Takam, and in the showdown at the Principality on the 31st he certainly enhanced his credentials as a technically supreme boxer – catching AJ with some fast, flashy shots between the 5th and 7th round of the fight, saw his reputation only heighten.
There was no shame in this defeat for the Kiwi legend but what does the future have in store?
Well, unfortunately for Duco Promotions, the pathway is distinctly less clear than if their charge had won but here are three potential options;
Joseph Parker won’t be wanting to restart his journey back to the top of heavyweight boxing by fighting some unknown Hungarian plumber so where better to start with “gate-keeper” Dereck Chisora?
Now I use the term gate-keeper loosely because Chisora doesn’t label himself as such but, nonetheless, Chisora remains in the top 20 worldwide and is guaranteed to come to the ring all guns blazing – especially for a fight such as this would be whereby the winner is almost guaranteed another world title shot.
‘Del Boy’, with 28 wins and 8 losses, would also be a good opponent for Parker to be able to demonstrate his technical ability and enable the former Commonwealth champion to work the body of Chisora, up nice and close, something he wasn’t able to do against Anthony Joshua.
With Eddie Hearn saying he’d like to see Joseph Parker back on British shores and Dereck Chisora promoted by the Matchroom Boxing banner, this fight is certainly more than speculation and would be an incredible encounter.
Big Baby Miller would be a far bigger risk to take for the former WBO Champion with the hotly rated American bringing nearly 300lbs of brutality into the ring; HBO’s heavyweight hopeful is ranked 3rd with all of the WBA, IBF and WBO so the fight would make sense, especially if it were to serve as an eliminator of sorts.
Miller has been a regular feature of Eddie Hearn’s ventures over into America and is next in action on the 28th April against, former Deontay Wilder opponent, Johann Duhaupas in Brooklyn. Should he come through that encounter unscathed then you sense the uber-confident American will want to take on Joseph Parker to really stamp his mark on the world scene.
Why would Parker want to take on the 20-0, 18 KO, behemoth of a fighter? Two-fold, really;
Firstly it’s an easy profile-raiser for him over in the U.S.A, having already made his name in the UK and, naturally, his home-countries of New Zealand and Samoa, the next big boxing demographic to crack is America and by beating Miller there can be no clearer attention-raiser;
And secondly, whilst Miller is a more risky opponent due to his sheer size and power, he also blows hot and cold within his fights and has never, particularly, came through entirely convincing – his size has it’s downfalls as well; he’s not particularly fast!
Let’s wait and see on this one but, heck, it would be a dust-up.
This is certainly less realistic than the two previous names but in Junior Fa there is far more history and romance to the match-up, going all the way back to the amateur days when the two New Zealand fighters faced-off on four occasions.
With two wins apiece the crux of the needle came in their last fight when Fa and Parker took place in a final eliminator to decide who would be the Oceanic representative for the London 2012 Olympic Games – Fa won in a tight grudge match by 11-8 but since they turned professional the anticipation has been growing for what, must surely be, an inevitably tasty bout.
Despite the fact Fa is currently, attempting, to make his name in America with Bob Arum and Top Rank, he’s looked incredibly unimpressive in his last two fights Stateside and would, undoubtedly, jump at the chance to cash-in back on home soil should the offer come from Joseph Parker’s team….
…. WATCH THIS SPACE!
For Anthony Joshua the path is far clearer and he has the, odd, pleasure of being at the mercy of the governing bodies which makes his job – and that of Eddie Hearn – a lot easier. Nonetheless here are his three most likely opponents;
SURPRISE! Can you even mention the two remaining heavyweight world champions independently anymore? The hype surrounding this potential fight was so extreme that Wilder seemed to be mentioned more than Parker in the build-up to their unification clash and Wilder is now the only man in the way of Joshua’s ROAD TO UNDISPUTED.
The Bronze Bomber has drawn scorn for saying he “wants a body” on his record but for all the controversy that the WBC Champ courts, there is no denying the incredible power possessed in the hands of the Alabama-fighter.
Having toppled Luis Ortiz in his last fight, despite very tight scorecards, it was Wilder’s windmill-esque power that saw his Cuban succumb in the 10th round – many, beforehand, were suggesting this was a 50-50 fight and, so it proved, with Wilder coming through his toughest test do date.
For all the talking done by the forty fight veteran, Wilder refused to show up in Cardiff for the AJ-Parker mega-fight and has turned down career high money to face Dillian Whyte in the interlude between a potential unification with Joshua; the BIGGEST potential fight but, let’s be honest, is it likely?
Having brutally knocked out, past-it contender, David Price in the 5th round on the undercard in Wales last week, Povetkin managed to retain his WBO and WBA Continental titles, as well as their respective, number one rankings and is likely to be called as the WBA mandatory any time soon.
The Russian has fallen foul of anti-doping rules in the past but since his return to the ring he has continued to highlight what made him, once, the most feared heavyweight in the world. To boot, and if I can say this, it’s noticeable how less “drugged-up” he looks, for want of a better phrase, so whilst suspicion will always loom there is a renewed belief that Povetkin is clean, again.
Fighting on the undercard of Anthony Joshua was a deliberate move by Eddie Hearn to introduce the 38-year-old to the British public ahead of what would be, inevitably, Povetkin’s final tilt at such prestigious titles – indeed it would be the biggest money of his career.
Povetkin packs a nifty punch and as was displayed in full glory against Price, he is capable of turning up the heat AT ANY MOMENT. Weakness were also displayed so whilst this might be AJ’s most exciting fight, you can be sure he’d be feeling mightily confident against the Russian Vityaz.
Pulev and, his promoters, the Sauerland Brothers will have been banging the door down of the Matchroom offices since the Bulgarian withdrew from his scheduled face-off with AJ last year – a fight that was meant to happen on the 28th October AT the Principality Stadium.
The 36 year old would continue in the same vein as Joseph Parker in seeking to test Joshua’s technical capabilities with the chin of Pulev being one that, should, withstand the pressure of AJ and Joshua may want to face Pulev in order to prove he’s not just an one-trick pony.
Having impressed against Dereck Chisora back in May 2016 to claim the European title, he’s since faced Samuel Peter and Kevin Johnson but, frankly, not made any earth-shattering statements against either man.
His rankings remain strong and The Cobra finds himself 5th the WBC, 4th with the WBA and 2nd with the IBF so there’s no questioning his credentials – unlike some who find themselves within the top 15.
Certainly all the talk before his pull-out last year was that Pulev could have been the toughest technical test of Joshua’s ability with his amateur pedigree bleeding into his professional game plan and, to all intent and purposes, replicating his success.
An eliminator between Breazeale and Pulev for a shot at the WBC Heavyweight title has been called so it looks as though his chance at taking on the pride of Britain is all but gone.
You can hope though, can’t you?
For both fighters involved in Saturday’s showdown in Cardiff, there can be no looking back on what could have been different, on what might have been, eyes must firmly be on the future because Joshua and Parker proved themselves as worthy world champions and whilst it was AJ who emerged victorious and with his undefeated record intact, Parker gained more credit over those 36 minutes than he did across all three of his previous world title fights.
For Anthony Joshua, though, the Road to Undisputed just got one step closer…
“AJ” Anthony Joshua Unifies Titles by Defeating Joseph Parker
By: Ken Hissner
The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday was the host site for the heavyweight boxing unification title bout between WBA & IBF heavyweight champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua and WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. This Eddie Hearn/Matchroom Boxing event had 80,000 fans in attendance.
WBA & IBF heavyweight champion “AJ” Anthony Joshua, 21-0 (20), of Watford Hertfordshire, UK, decisioned WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, 24-1 (18), of NZ, living in Las Vegas, NV, over 12 rounds.
Photo Credit:Matchroom Boxing/Showtime Boxing Twitter Accounts
In the first round it was over two minutes before a right hand was connected by both fighters in a round of jabs. In round two Parker continued with his left low while Joshua is the aggressor for the most part. Half a minute left before the first clinch in another round of jabs.
In the third round Joshua landed the first solid jab that landed on the chin of Parker. Parker having both hands to his side gets backed up by Joshua. Parkers punches continue to fall short to the 6:06 Joshua who is two inches taller and a longer reach. Parker lands the left hook to the head of Joshua after a clash of heads. In the fourth round Parker walked into a Joshua left hook to the head. Little to choose between the two through four rounds with little action.
In the fifth round Joshua landed a double jab to the chin of Parker. Joshua landed a left hook to the chin of Parker. Parker landed a right, then a left to the body of Joshua who was scampering away from Parker. Parker landed a good combination to the head of Joshua. In the sixth round during the first exchange the referee Giuseppe Quartarone of Italy for some unknown reason jumped in to stop the action. Joshua landed a long lead right to the head of Parker. Parker ducked under a Joshua right countered with a right uppercut to the chin of Joshua. Joshua countered a Parker miss with a right to the head of Parker.
In round seven Joshua landed a long right to the head of Parker. Once again for some unknown reason the referee stepped in. Inside Parker landed several body shots before clinching. In the eighth round Joshua’s tape is hanging from his left glove and the referee even after separating the boxers hasn’t noticed it. It was two minutes into the round when he finally tried fixing the tape himself instead of going to the corner of Joshua to fix it. Joshua landed a left hook to the head of Parker. Joshua landed a combination to the head of Parker.
In the ninth round Parker landed a double jab to the chin of Joshua. Inside Joshua landed a right uppercut to the chin of Parker. Joshua landed a lead right to the head of Parker. Parker drives Joshua into the ropes with two punches to the head of Joshua. In round ten Parker landed several punches to the body of Joshua and the referee once again steps in for some unknown reason. Parker suffered a cut outside his left eye by a Joshua’s left elbow. Parker landed two left hooks to the body of Joshua. Joshua landed a countering right uppercut.
In round eleven while inside Joshua landed a right uppercut to the chin of Parker. Joshua landed a combination to the head of Parker who countered with a right to the chin of Joshua. In the twelfth and final round Joshua’s right was blocked but left landed to the body of Parker. Joshua landed a right to the head of Parker. Joshua landed a jab and shortly afterwards a right uppercut with the referee Quartarone for some unknown reason jumped between the fighters.
Judge Steve Gray of the UK 118-110, Judge Ian Scott of NZ 119-109 and judge Steve Weisfeld of the US 118-110. This writer had it 114-114 in the dullest heavyweight title fight in this writer’s memory and I’m 74 on Monday. May of 1953 at the age of 9 I watched Rocky Marciano knock out “Jersey” Joe Walcott some 65 years ago but never saw anything so dull. I’ve seen better sparring sessions in any Philadelphia ring. I gave Joshua rounds 1, 4, 8, 10, 11 and 12. Parker rounds 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9. Even Parker thought he lost. His objective was to “go the distance stopping Joshua’s 20 straight knockout streak!”
“I am the unified champion with three titles in a fight of boxing not the slugfest that Parker wanted. I want Wilder next,” said Joshua. “I will have to work harder in the future,” said Parker.
Former WBA World Heavyweight champion Alexander “Russian Vityaz” Povetkin, 34-1 (24), of Chekhov, Russia, knocked out 2008 Olympian David Price, 22-5 (18), of Liverpool, Merseyside, UK, in the fifth round for the WBA Inter-Continental & WBO International titles.
WBA Super World Bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, 19-0 (9), of Belfast, Northern, Ireland, won a lopsided decision over Yonfrez “El Verdugo” Parejo, 21-3-1 (10), of Anzoategui, VZ, over 12 rounds.
Scores were 120-108 twice and 116-112. Terry O’Connor was the referee.
Former WBA World Lightweight champion Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla, 33-6-3 (13), of Manchester, UK, defeated Edson “Buba” Ramirez, 18-3-1 (8), of Mexico City, MEX, over 10 rounds by scores of 100-91, 100-90 & 98-92.
Unbeaten Welterweight Josh “Pretty Boy” Kelly, 6-0 (4), of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, UK, defeated former IBF World Super Lightweight Mexican Carlos Molina, 28-9-2 (8), of Chicago, IL, over 10 rounds for the WBA International title by scores of 98-92 twice and 98-91.
2016 Light Heavyweight Olympic Bronze Medalist Joshua Buatsi, 5-0 (3), of Accra, GH, now out of Croydon, London, UK, defeated Bartolmiej Grafka, 20-29-3 (9), of Katowice, Poland, over 6 rounds.
Lightweight 2016 Olympian Joe Cordina, 7-0 (6), of Cardiff, Wales, stopped Hakim Ben Ali, 19-6 (1), of West-Vlaanderum, Belgium, in 3 rounds for the vacant WBA International title.
Parker vs. Joshua: The Interlude
By: Niki Ross
The latest instalment of the faux heavyweight renaissance is almost upon us. The Anthony Joshua franchise will roll out again next weekend to face off against the unbeaten Joseph Parker and with this fight we should move closer to a unification fight between Joshua and Wilder.
The fight against Joseph Parker feels very much like an interlude. To the casual fan this is an easy fight to sell as a legitimate challenge to Joshuas developing reign of supremacy. The media are onboard the AJ gravy-train, Eddie Hearn has secured the right deals, put him with the right endorsements and now Anthony Joshua is being pushed down our throats as a beacon of light for the sport. But things aren’t quite as they seem.
Boxing has been crying out for a heavyweight that everyone can hang their hopes on. Someone to bring back the good old days, the blood and glory days when the heavyweights were all that mattered. Times have changed, boxing is thriving and commercial appeal is not enough to be mentioned in a pound for pound conversation.
For all the hype, the heavyweight division is still nowhere near as exciting as the lower divisions. From featherweight up to middleweight there are some certified killers, and following on from the great 2017, we are seeing them looking for the career defining fights rather than the financially defining fights.
Joseph Parker, despite his unblemished record, is a limited fighter. Noticeably faster than the other current heavyweights, a little lighter on his feet, he is still exceptionally raw. He struggled with an aged Carlos Takam, he had it tough against the rusty Hughie Fury, he will probably come unstuck against Anthony Joshua.
Parker seems like he has failed to really develop as he’s gotten older. His punches are wild, he rushes in with reckless abandon and his defence is basic. If he was the least bit chinny, Parkers resume could look very different indeed.
On Sky Sports The Gloves Are Off both fighters came face to face. Joseph Parker did not look comfortable. He gave off the impression he was already psychologically beaten, simply happy to pick up his biggest payday. Even a little bit of an AJ admirer himself.
Maybe its the crushing weight of support Joshua has garnered, maybe its an understanding of his own limitations. Maybe I’m reading the situation all wrong. We will know for sure come the 31st of March, however Joseph Parker seems like a man accepting of his role as the supporting actor rather than a warrior coming to collect the scalp of a man standing in his road to greatness.
There aren’t many big fights left for Joshua at this stage. A fight with Wilder and then possibly a domestic dust up with the enigmatic Tyson Fury. But after that, theres nothing else that captures the imagination of the public at this point.
And these fighters, despite having public following, are nowhere near as fundamentally skilled as the men in the divisions which thrive below them. Tyson Fury may never even be the same fighter again, shifting such a mass of weight time and time again is not a sustainable expectation of the body and at some point he will have to pay the piper.
The heavyweight division is going to come to a crescendo sometime in the next couple of years and when its all said and done Anthony Joshua could be sitting in the throne for some time to come. He’s a good boxer, but a feeling deep inside gives the impression that he may not be able to cope when the time comes that a hungry young lion, with a dynamic boxing IQ comes knocking on the door.
Today its Joseph Parker, tomorrow it’ll be Deontay Wilder. And after that, the unknown quantities that lie in wait, the men who spot the flaws and are hungry beyond financial impetus, will be the ones who really rock the heavyweight division. Boxing is in a great place, the amount of talent on display week after week is refreshing. The cream always rises to the top and by the time this interludes are over, the landscape of the heavyweight division should look rather different.
In the meantime, bank on a Joshua late round stoppage. Nobody expects Parker to win, but Joshua doesn’t just need to win this fight, he needs to win this fight convincingly.
Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker: A Step Towards Unification
By: Ste Rowen
Two years ago, Anthony Joshua was deep into camp, preparing for his first world title shot against the newly crowned IBF champion, Charles Martin. A shot at one of the most prestigious belts made available due to Tyson Fury being stripped of the IBF strap almost immediately after ripping it from Wladimir Klitschko, along with the WBA and WBO belts in 2015.
It’s strange to think, just 27 months ago, 3 of the 4 recognized belts were held by one man and seemed so unattainable, then within a few months, for the first time since the early 2000s they were scattered across the division. It seems even stranger now then that we’re one weekend away from one man holding the IBF, WBA & WBO once again and, in theory, one fight away from becoming the first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis.
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime
Joshua did of course win the IBF belt that night from Charles Martin; the American who won the title by accident, after he watched Vyacheslav Glazkov tear his meniscus and ACL in the 3rd round and being unable to continue, meaning the history books will show that Martin won the IBF via 3rd round TKO. He had no such luck against Joshua though, when the 2012 gold medallist needed less than five minutes to wipe out the man who supposedly, ‘walked the earth like a God.’
‘AJ’ now, 20-0 (20KOs) will face a much sterner test this weekend in the form of WBO world champion, Joseph Parker. The New Zealander, 24-0 (18KOs) won his world title in his 22nd fight, as opposed to Joshua winning the IBF in his 16th; coming up against the Abel Sanchez trained, Andy Ruiz Jr, fighting for the vacant WBO. Parker’s earnt his straps in bouts including Joshua’s most recent opposition, Carlos Takam, winning via unanimous 12-round decision, impressive blowout victories over Alexander Dimitrenko and domestic rival, Solomon Haumono. Even when he’s failed to impress, including his most recent awkward encounter with Hughie Fury, Parker will have come away from the fight with a lot to learn from, but an accomplished trainer in Kevin Barry to enhance his style with.
Joshua has more than earnt his stripes on the road to this weekend’s unification clash. Almost eleven months ago, ‘AJ’ stepped into the ring with a future hall of famer, dropped him in the 5th, got dropped in the 6th and found an unbelievable second wind in the 11th to finish off Wladimir Klitschko, not just that night, but it was of course the prodigious man’s final bout after 66 professional fights.
It was truly one of the great heavyweight title clashes, arguably the best in terms of up-and-down action since Lennox Lewis took on Wladimir’s brother, Vitali in 2003. That night Anthony displayed more than just power, and the ability to stalk his opponent, attributes we knew he had in abundance going into the fight. The relevant clichés apply obviously, heart, determination, the will to get back up off the floor, but perhaps more importantly a skillset he hadn’t had to show he’s capable of yet in the pro ranks.
Joshua displayed the finesse to fight off the back foot from the first bell as Klitschko was the man doing the pressing early on and then almost entirely through rounds 6 to 10. Unless it’s been out of choice, never before in his previous 19 bouts had ‘AJ’ been forced into reversing, and time his counters to keep the Ukrainian away. We also saw Anthony’s chin properly and consistently tested for the first time. Of course, as proven in the 6th when Wladimir landed a wonderful straight right hand sending Joshua to the canvas for the first time as a pro, the Brit’s chin is not unbreakable, but it’s certainly not made of the soft stuff. And it’s not just the physical side of being landed on, but the mental fatigue that comes with being cleanly hit more than you have been in any previous bout.
From that ensuing fight, and an ugly tussle with Carlos Takam in October, which resulted in a dubious 10th round stoppage, Joshua, speaking to Sky Sports, believes he is the man responsible for reigniting a failing division,
‘I think I’m leading the pack and that’s the way that it’s going to stay. If I wasn’t leading the way, there would be no eyes on the division. The division was dead and we brought it back to life.’
‘One fight doesn’t define us, if it did I would be sitting back on the throne after my Klitschko fight. But I’ve got to keep on going.’
On this Saturday’s fight, Joshua isn’t shying away from the significance of the night, as he told BBC Sport,
‘This is history. This is a unification fight with two heavyweights undefeated…You know when you come here to fight myself there’s going to be blood, a fighter hurt and 20 times out of 20 I’ve been victorious so expect the same routine.’
‘He’s (Parker) a king where he comes from so he has that pride on his back as well. He has to represent the heritage and that’s important.’
Even with the rematch clause in place for Saturday’s fight, the outcome is so significant to how the next few years at the top of the heavyweight division plays out. Being a realist, if Joshua beats Parker, a fight with Wilder probably won’t happen next, but a defeat pushes it back even further, most likely into late 2019, early 2020 – that is of course as long as Joshua wins a potential rematch with Parker.
But it’s safe to assume ‘AJ’ won’t allow himself to be distracted by the potential future bouts, his trainer, Rob McCracken certainly won’t, especially when they look back on how quickly the Klitschko fight turned on it’s head.
Can Joseph Parker Surpass David Tua?
By: Ste Rowen
When you’re a promising, heavyweight boxer from New Zealand with Samoan heritage, you’re bound to be compared to David Tua. When you’re a heavyweight boxer from New Zealand, Samoan heritage and trained by Kevin Barry, the comparisons double. When you’re a heavyweight boxer from New Zealand, Samoan heritage, trained by Kevin Barry, and the WBO heavyweight champion of the world, it’d be almost sacrilege to not mention the ‘Tuaman’.
This coming Saturday, Joseph Parker, 24-0 (18KOs) headlines a heavyweight unification clash at Cardiff’s, 74500 capacity stadium, two fights removed from his unanimous decision win over Andy Ruiz for the vacant WBO belt.
It’s a height his fellow countryman, and New Zealand’s favourite boxing son, David Tua never reached. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, David is remembered as one of the best heavyweights, never to win a championship belt.
Despite this, the question still remains over how Parker stands up when compared to the ‘Tuaman’.
In Tua’s one world title fight, he was soundly beaten by ‘THE’ man at the time, Lennox Lewis, but under the tutelage of Kevin Barry, David’s standing in boxing folklore is backed up by his victories over the men who would become champion and of course, a legendary chin.
As an amateur, Tua Campaigned at heavyweight (91kg) and achieved a very accomplished career which included winning a bronze medal in the 1991 World Championships and then bronze again in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Parker was just as much an accomplished ‘Youth’ Olympian. Campaigning at super heavyweight (+91kg), he won silver in the 2010 Youth Olympics and a bronze in the Youth World Championships of the same year, but the step up to the adult tournament proved too much as he failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, which sealed his decision to turn pro in the same year.
Parker’s most impressive professional performance to date came in a 12-round slugger with Carlos Takam, Anthony Joshua’s most recent opponent. Throwing 534 punches, landing 102/261 power shots, Joe came through his first big test a better fighter than he entered. It was also the first-time fans were able to see his chin really tested against a higher calibre of opposition.
I was lucky enough to be in Auckland to see Parker fight five months later at the 3000 strong Vodafone Events Centre. That night he came up against the limited, but well-respected Alexander Dimitrenko. 20-0 (17KOs) at the time, Parker lived up to the ever-growing hype. There was an efficient nastiness to him as he didn’t rush in unnecessarily, found range well behind a composed jab, and fired off deft right hands that seemed to shake his opposition every time they landed. It all combined for three knockdowns in the first two rounds, and an unusual 3rd round body shot finish, when the Russian already looked downed.
It was the last KO Parker scored. In his three performances since, the New Zealander has gone 36 rounds, great experience you might say, but the quality of performance hasn’t matched up with the Parker we saw clash with Takam or Dimitrenko.
To win the WBO strap (his next fight after Dimitrenko) Parker took on the surprisingly quick hitting Mexican-American, Andy Ruiz. Also unbeaten, at 29-0 (19KOs) Ruiz had built up a solid record against relatively poor opposition but trained by Abel Sanchez and entering the ring with very little expectation, the ‘Destroyer’ made a bright start and the expectation on Parker’s shoulders suddenly seemed to weigh him down.
The New Zealander won a very contentious hometown decision, lacked power in his punching but more worryingly, the accuracy that had been so evident in his previous 20 bouts. Those types of performances can occur, but after failing to impress in 12 rounds against regular sparring partner and late stand-in, Razvan Cojanu and then most recently another contentious decision victory and lacklustre display to move to 24-0, this time over Hughie Fury in Manchester, we seem to be left with more questions than answers about what Joseph Parker is capable of.
At 24-0, Tua hadn’t fought for a recognised belt yet but he had laid waste to a future world champion in John Ruiz. He also left the crowd wanting more, scoring 20 KO’s in that time, fifteen of those coming within the first two rounds. And even in defeat further on his career against Ike Ibeabuchi and Lewis, Tua threw 755 and 413 punches respectively. He was a man who always came to win, and who the people wanted to watch.
For the upcoming clash with Joshua, Parker would do well to take notes from the Tua textbook. His chin has shown durability in past bouts, but there’s nothing wrong with incorporating head movement, especially when you’re coming up against someone as heavy handed as AJ. Tua’s bob and weave technique, plus nearly constant throwing gave the likes of Hasim Rahman and Chris Byrd fits, and static fighters like Oleg Maskaev were punished when they couldn’t land the jab. Tua took out Michael Moorer and John Ruiz early through sheer ferociousness and serious cojones to come out firing from the first bell.
‘Static’ is something that’s been labelled at Joshua a few times and if you’re not afraid to put it on the WBA & IBF champion, we’ve seen already that he’s not invincible, even if he is unbeaten.
Ultimately, when comparing the two New Zealanders, the fact may be that in this era, unless Parker achieves complete supremacy; from being a contender, to unifying the division, he may just be judged as a heavyweight in a lesser generation, especially when compared to the late 90’s/early 2000’s.
Sometimes the phrase ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you’ is legit, the problem for the WBO champion is that arguments can be made for him losing 2 of his last 3 fights, and he’s about to step in with a fighter widely regarded as ‘THE’ man of the current heavyweight division.
Defeat this weekend wouldn’t be the end of the world for Joe, it never held Tua back, but the performance on Saturday night could be just as important as the result for Parker’s future at the top of heavyweight boxing.
Looking at the Wilder vs. Ortiz and Parker vs. Joshua Fight
By: Ken Hissner
This past weekend Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, 40-0 (39), came within seconds of losing his WBC Heavyweight title to previously unbeaten Luis Ortiz, 28-1 (24), of Miami, FL, trying to be the first Cuban to win the heavyweight title.
Even though judges for that event Glenn Feldman, Kevin Morgan and Carlos Ortiz had Wilder ahead after nine rounds 85-84 they were probably the only ones at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, or viewing it over Showtime that did. This writer had it 86-84 Ortiz.
Feldman had Wilder winning two of the first three rounds. Morgan and Ortiz had Wilder winning the second round. This writer and Showtime’s judge Steve Farhood gave the first four rounds to Ortiz. All judges gave Ortiz a 10-8 round when he had Wilder out on his feet in the seventh round. I don’t question that though I had it 10-9.
Fortunately for Wilder referee David Fields didn’t stop the fight in the seventh round with about a minute or more left when he was out on his feet and holding Ortiz. As far as I know it’s the first time Wilder has fought any contender in the top four of the WBC rankings even though it was his seventh defense. If you count the only opponent to go the distance with him in Bermane “B.WARE” Stiverne he had been inactive for two years and should not have even been in the rankings.
Dillian “The Body Snatcher” Whyte, a Jamaican out of the UK is 22-1 (16), and ranked No. 1 by the WBC. His only loss was two years ago getting stopped by Anthony Joshua in seven rounds. He is scheduled to fight No. 13 ranked and 38 year-old Australian Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne, 25-0 (22), on March 24th in the UK.
On March 31st, on Showtime, in Cardiff, Wales, Anthony “A.J.” Joshua, 20-0 (20), of the UK will put his IBF and WBA titles on the line in the UK against WBO champion Joe Parker, 24-0 (18), of NZ living in Las Vegas, NV. The winner and Wilder will be looking to meet one another before the year is out.
It’s a 50-50 chance they will fight someone else in an attempt to build the gate for the four titles to be on the line. Russian Olympic Gold Medalist Alexander “Russian Vityaz” Povetkin, 33-1 (23) is the No. 1 contender in both the WBO and the WBA. Like Ortiz he failed a drug test but could be a future opponent for one of the title holders.
Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev, 25-1 (13), of Bulgaria, is the No. 2 IBF contender with No. 1 vacant. Back in 2014 he was stopped by Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF title in the fifth round. 44 year-old Fres “Big O” Oquendo, 37-8 (24), of Chicago, IL, hasn’t fought in almost four years and is ranked No. 2 in the WBA and is meeting Syrian Manuel “Diamond Boy” Charr, from Lebanon fighting out of Germany who holds the WBA World title May 4th in Chicago. This gives you an idea how the rankings are “fixed”, I mean figured.
Joshua looked very bad in stopping late sub Carlos Takam, of Cameroon living in France in the tenth round in his last defense so now others have been mentioned meeting Joshua. The champions rarely fight two top contenders in back to back fights so you never know with Joshua-Parker and Wilder coming off big fights if they will be looking for something easier instead of meeting each other.
It does look like by the end of 2018 there will be one heavyweight champion holding all four organization titles. You have to go back to Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield to remember someone holding three titles when he lost to Lennox Lewis in 1999. So let’s hope Showtime and the organizations can put the two champions against one another.
Golden Boy Promotions on ESPN Results: Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz, Jr. Stops Victor Terrazas
By: Ken Hissner
Golden Boy Promotions at the Fantasy Springs Casino, in Indio, CA, Thursday night over ESPN2 with Diaz and Terrazas in the Main Event.
In the Main Event 2012 USA Olympian southpaw Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz, 26-0 (14), of Downey, CA, defended his NABF and WBO NABO Featherweight titles scoring three knockdowns stopping the former Super Bantamweight champion Victor Terrazas, 38-5-2 (21), of Guadlajara, MEX, at 3:00 at the end of the third round.
In the first round a left uppercut to the body from Diaz dropped Terrazas. Diaz went right after him again landing a body shot dropping him for the second time. In the second round Terrazas came out forcing the action until he was pushed to the canvas. Diaz went right after him with a right uppercut to the body. A body shot from Diaz was heard thumping the body of Terrazas. The entire round was in the middle of the ring. In the second round both fighters mixed it up but the 25 year-old Diaz just had too much firepower for the 35 year-old Terrazas.
In the third round both fighters returned to stay close with both landing body shots. Terrazas coming forward walked into a Diaz a hard left uppercut to the body of Terrazas. A left hook body shot from Diaz ended the fight as Terrazas took the count on a knee from referee Eddie Hernandez, Sr.
The WBC & WBO No. 1 contender Diaz called out champion WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russell, Jr. after the bout.
Super Lightweight Vergil Ortiz, Jr., 9-0 (9), of TX, stopped Jesus Alvarez “Carambolas” Rodriguez, 15-4 (11), of Los Mochis, MEX, at 2:00 of the third round for the vacant NABF Junior Super Lightweight, in a scheduled 8 rounds.
In the first round a hard right from Ortiz to the chin of Rodriguez dropped him to the canvas. Ortiz went right after him landing a vicious left hook to the body just prior to the end of the round. In the second round Ortiz landed a hard right uppercut to the chin of Rodriguez. Ortiz landed a double left hook to the body of Rodriguez followed by a right to the chin.
In the third round a lead right from Ortiz to the chin of Rodriguez was right on the money. A combination from Ortiz to the body and head hurt Rodriguez. Ortiz chased him down with a flurry of punches bringing a halt from referee from Raul Caiz, Jr.
Lightweight Christian Gonzalez, 18-2 (15), of Bueno Park, CA, was upset by Filipino Rey “The Technician” Perez, 22-9 (6), of Laguna, PH, over 8 tough rounds.
In the first round Gonzalez took it to Perez with no matter what he threw it seemed to land on Perez. It was all Gonzalez. From the middle of the round Perez started landing body punches with what looked like a little low at the bell. In the second round it was Perez storming out throwing with left hooks to the body and a nice short right but Perez hung right in there with him. Perez pushed Gonzalez to the ropes and a flurry had him bleeding on the forehead from wild rights to the head.
In the third round Perez landed a combination to the head of Gonzalez. It was Gonzalez pushing Perez but catching uppercuts to the body from Perez when inside. Perez had Gonzalez against the ropes. A three punch combination from Perez to the head of Gonzalez hurt him. In the fourth round fighting head to head it was Gonzalez coming out of it with another cut this one over the left eye from an accidental head butt. Gonzalez had Perez against the ropes. Back to the middle of the ring it was where Perez usually gets the best of it.
In the fifth round it was all body shots with some holding on both parts. Perez landed half a dozen punches with all but one to the body. Gonzalez came back well drawing blood from the nose of Perez. In the sixth round Perez came out strong driving Gonzalez into the ropes with a lead right to the chin of Gonzalez. Both fighters looked exhausted. Perez landed a solid right to the chin of Gonzalez who came right back with a right of his own to the head of Perez. Perez came throwing punches in bunches.
In the seventh round Perez continued to drive Gonzalez into the ropes. It was all body punches from both fighters. Combinations with the final punch a right all to the head from Perez on Gonzalez. In the eighth and final round it was more of Perez out punching Perez the entire round. The referee was Raul Caiz, Jr.
The Judges scores were Lou Moret and Fernando Villarreal 79-73 and Raul Caiz, Sr. 78-74 and this writer had it 78-74.
Anthony Joshua Fighting Joseph Parker on Showtime Ends Speculation of Possible Move to HBO, For Now…
By: Bryant Romero
It was finally announced on Monday afternoon that indeed Showtime would televise the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker heavyweight unification title fight on March 31. Putting an end to the speculation that the British superstar was making a move to HBO for the time being at least, which has been whispered in boxing circles since Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has developed a working relationship with HBO and Peter Nelson. It was believed with HBO’s initial investment into showcasing some of Hearn’s fighters that it could ultimately result in getting the services of the 28 year old Anthony Joshua.
However, Showtime will air Joshua’s sixth straight fight on the network in their bid to become the permanent home of the British star. Rival HBO has been making a strong push to air Joshua’s fights but because of his previous contract with Showtime, the network has the right to match any offer made. It was reported by ESPN, that HBO place a strong bid of $1.95 million for the U.S. rights to air Joshua-Parker. But Showtime is committed to retaining the services of Anthony Joshua with the ultimate goal of televising and owning the rights of the much talked about anticipated showdown between Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) and WBC champion Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs).
Promoter Eddie Hearn may have other ideas though, especially when it comes to when a Joshua/Wilder fight takes place. For now both Heavyweight champions will take interim fights with Joshua looking to unify with WBO champion Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) and Wilder taking on his most dangerous challenge to date in fighting top contender Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) of Cuba. Wilder and his team are hoping for a statement win over the dangerous Ortiz that could lead to much needed value and negotiating power at the table when it come to talks of a potential Joshua fight.
However, it appears very unlikely that a Joshua/Wilder fight will take place next if both come out victorious in their next bouts. Top contender Alexander Povetkin (33-1, 23 KOs) of Russia is waiting in the wings and may be called as the next mandatory for the WBA strap that Joshua holds. Povetkin has already agreed to fight David Price on the undercard of Joshua/Parker that can raise his profile in England for potential Joshua fight in the summer.
Just how long will Showtime continue to outbid rival HBO to retain the services of Joshua since a Wilder fight may not be in the cards for this year?
Joshua vs. Parker is Close to a Deal; Don’t Look Past Parker, warns Kevin Barry
By Eric Lunger
There looks to be big news coming in the heavyweight division, as Anthony Joshua, the WBA, IBF, and IBO champion, is close to finalizing a bout with WBO kingpin Joseph Parker, for a date most likely in late March. While both camps have indicated that a deal is close, no announcement has been made. Boxinginsider caught up with Kevin Barry, Parker’s long-time trainer and former New Zealand Olympic medalist, and Barry is confident that a final agreement is imminent. “Eddie Hearn and David Higgins have been in constant contact; we expect the fight to be named [soon]”, said Barry, “they’ve been working on the fight for the last eight weeks and it is closer every day: both parties want this fight.”
Photo Credit: Kevin Barry
Even though Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) weathered a strong challenge by Hughie Fury in Manchester, England, last September, many boxing pundits still don’t give the New Zealand heavyweight much of chance against the charismatic Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), a gold medalist for Britain at the 2012 London Games.
A large part of this pro-Joshua tendency is what might be termed the “Klitschko Afterglow.” The April fight — in which AJ dethroned the king — was so exciting, so dramatic, so theatrical even, that is it little wonder that AJ glows in the eyes of many commentators. I confess that it was, for me, one of the most thrilling fights of the year, hands down. But we should also remember that Klitschko had the former Olympic gold medalist in real trouble in the latter part of the fifth round, and then in the sixth round, as Dr. Steelhammer dropped Joshua with a blistering straight right.
There are two areas where I think the Kiwi champion actually has the edge: in the combination of footwork and hand speed, and in his conditioning. AJ will certainly have the edge in crowd support, but this can cut both ways, as we will see.
First, Parker probably has the fastest hands in the division, and he really had to learn how to move in the ring in order to beat Hughie Fury. Joshua does not fight off his back foot (like Fury), and thus the two British fighters are quite different. But if Parker can use his feet to create some difficult angles and to benefit his double jab, it will give him an edge over the slower-moving Joshua. Parker uses his jab to the body and the head, and follows it with a straight right, exactly the type of punch that put Joshua on the canvas in the Klitschko fight.
Intimately related to footwork is conditioning, and here I think Parker has a clear advantage. The Kiwi went twelve rounds with Fury, who back-pedaled most of the bout, but Parker looked as fresh and quick in the twelfth round as he did in the first. Barry said his fighter was frustrated by Fury’s style, but “Joe wasn’t tired at all” after the bout. the knock on Joshua is that he tends to get tired during rounds, and needs to recover on his stool. Klitschko exploited this, and there were points in Joshua’s fight against Carlos Takam in October where the big British champ looked gassed out. A highly conditioned and aggressive Joseph Parker will not let Joshua take time off during a round, and that could be the difference maker.
So, where do Anthony Joshua’s supposed advantages lie? Barry discounts the notion that Joshua has the edge in punching power: “a lot of people are saying that, if it comes to a throw down, Anthony Joshua will have too much power. When it comes to a throw down, I can promise you that Joe will be throwing down at the same time. When Joseph Parker hits Anthony Joshua on the chin, and he goes down – and he will go down – we will not let him off. There is no way we will let him back in the fight. When Joe puts him on the canvas, Joe will finish him off.”
Barry sees Parker’s durability as the flip-side to Joshua’s power: “I know this about heavyweight boxing: you need to be able to give a punch – and both these guys can give a punch – and you need to take a punch. Joseph Parker has never been down as an amateur, as a professional, or in sparring. I’d back him against any heavyweight in the world, and we are looking forward to backing him against Anthony Joshua.”
Maybe Joshua’s advantage lies in the support of a raucous home crowd, and he certainly is wildly popular in the UK. Again, Barry thinks AJ’s advantage in this regard is over-rated: “Eddie Hearne made comments the other day, saying that he believes when Joseph Parker gets in front of a huge crowd, that he would become a different person. I can tell you this, Joseph Parker is the most relaxed fighter I have ever worked with as far as controlling his emotions. Whether it’s two, five, ten, or eighty thousand people, it is going to be the same guy that walks to the ring, the same routine that we’ve had for the last five years.” In fact, Barry feels the pressure is really on the home fighter: as the favorite, and especially after a lackluster outing against Takam, “the pressure is on Joshua for a great performance.”
Finally, it clearly rankles Team Parker that there is so much hype around Anthony Joshua and that AJ is looking past Parker: “Joshua is already talking about Tyson Fury and Wilder – this is laughable to me. If he’s really looking past Joseph Parker, he is in for a huge, rude awakening. Joshua has two names on his resume that garner respect, Carlos Takam and Wladimir Klitschko. Takam took the fight on twelve days notice, and Klitschko was 40 years old.”
Nonetheless, Barry has been in the fight game his whole life, and he can see the big picture here: “this is a great, great fight on paper, both these guys are young and both undefeated. Both are world champions, but both guys are far from the finished product. This makes for a highly exciting unification fight, and the boxing world — especially heavyweight boxing — we need this fight. There hasn’t been a unification fight for seven years. This is a great fight.”
Five Fighters to Watch in 2018
By: Eric Lunger
As the final wrapping paper gets cleaned up from under the tree, and as we collectively vow – in varying degrees of enthusiasm and conviction — to get back to sensible eating and exercise, it’s time to take a glance ahead at the upcoming year in boxing, and count down the top five fighters to keep an eye on. This is a pretty eclectic list, and no doubt you have your own picks; I’d love to read which boxers you are watching for 2018 in the comments below.
Photo Credit: WBSS
Joseph Parker (Heavyweight). The Kiwi WBO champion had a great 2017, defending his newly-won belt twice. In May, he took care of business against Razvan Cojanu, a late-minute replacement in a not-so spectacular bout, but in September, Parker traveled to Manchester, UK, to take on the talented contender Hughie Fury. Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) answered a lot of questions that night, and won over some critics. Still, there are some commentators who feel that Parker is the odd man out in the top tier of the division, that he doesn’t really belong in the same rarified air as Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury. But with his power, his hand speed, and most importantly, his meteoric learning curve each and every outing, Parker can be a real spoiler in the division. Will he get a shot at AJ in 2018? That is tough to envision, given Team Joshua’s current aversion to risk, but as the WBO Champion, unification of the belts has to go through Parker at some point.
Oleksandr Usyk (Cruiserweight). Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) fought on the same Olympic team as Vasyl Lomachenko, training with Lomachenko’s father, and it shows in Usyk’s footwork and use of angles. Already WBO world champion, the Ukrainian southpaw is in the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament, slated to take on undefeated WBC champion Mairis Breidis in Riga, Latvia, on January 27. Supremely confident, Usyk is one of those few European amateurs who understands that the professional game is about more than just scoring points; a fighter needs to be exciting to watch if he wants to build his fan base. With knockout artist Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos in the other semi-final in February, the WBSS tournament is exciting and dynamic, and Usyk has to be the favorite to unify all the belts and lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Javier Fortuna (Lightweight) A southpaw from the Dominican Republic and former WBA World champion at junior lightweight, Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) has an important title shot this coming January against undefeated IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. Fortuna is an underdog in this fight, to be sure, but the matchup will be competitive and entertaining. The Dominican standout is a risk-taker, and he can get caught. But he is also brilliant to watch, especially when he makes intuitive adjustments in the ring or decides to ramp up the performance aspect of his game. This will be no easy tune-up for Easter, and Fortuna should not be overlooked as a potential upset of the year.
Danny Garcia (Welterweight). Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) has always been one of my favorite fighters. A guy with deep Philly roots, he’s had tough battles with the likes of Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, Paulie Malignaggi, and Keith Thurman. Danny is an accurate counterpuncher whose risky style is based on one of the most dominant left hooks in the game. The split decision loss to Thurman last March had to be a bitter pill for the proud Garcia to swallow. How does a fighter who has accomplished so much in the sport find the motivation to rebound from a loss like that? We will find out where Garcia is mentally and physically this February 17 as he takes on Brandon Rios (34-3, 25 KOs) in a twelve-round welterweight clash.
Vasyl Lomachenko (Junior Lightweight). Obviously, the slick Ukrainian southpaw is on top of the boxing world right now, and is a factor in everyone’s pound-for-pound discussion, but the real unknown for Lomachenko in 2018 is: whom should he fight next? Who will give him a challenge? Who will draw a big audience? Miguel Berchelt (32-1 28 KOs), who holds the WBC belt, seems like the logical next opponent for “HiTech,” but a case can certainly be made for Francisco Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) or even Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs). There has also been significant social media chatter about Lomachenko moving up to 135 to fight Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), and what a fight that would be. Unfortunately, for now, Garcia has moved to junior welterweight to face Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) for the IBF title. Regardless, Lomachenko remains a fighter to watch in 2018.
Joseph Parker: Wrong Mentality?
By: Jacob Tanswell
Almost instantly, after Anthony Joshua’s last win on October the 28th, Joseph Parker has been seen as the next chapter in Joshua’s career; a chance to pick up the third heavyweight title out the four main governing bodies that are up for grabs. Ever since then, there has been twists, turns and revelations involving the two fighters.
Due to Parker’s promoter, David Higgins, being so desperate for the fight and a slice of the “AJ Pie”, there have been some embarrassing moments in the promotional campaign. This belief came to fruition a few weeks ago, where out of nowhere, he organised a press conference, claiming he had videos of Anthony Joshua being dropped, exposing his “glass chin.” However, this was well and truly a car crash. It turned out, he designed a video, of which Eddie Hearn claimed “his daughter could do that” of boxers claiming they have dropped Joshua in sparring. According to many, this “massive” press conference looked like it was filmed in a broom cupboard, with approximately only 2000 people streaming it via social media.
Perhaps pushed, Joseph Parker has been messaging Anthony Joshua numerous times on Twitter. Whilst demanding 35% of the deal, he is adamant he will beat Joshua emphatically. His whole argument is based around the hashtag: #neverbeendropped as well as repeatedly claiming Joshua has a “glass chin”. In all honesty, people can come to their own conclusions about Joshua’s punch resistance due to the magnitude of the fight with Wladimir Klitschko, where he climbed up off the canvas to win by an 11th round stoppage.
It is unquestionable that so far in the two undefeated heavyweights careers it is Joshua that has fought the better opposition. So the question is, does Parker have an argument by using #neverbeendropped repeatedly? The fact of the matter is, when a 254 pound man, like Joshua catches you, flush, on the chin, it is more than likely you will be badly hurt. Therefore, in the heavyweight division you can’t rely on believing you have a granite chin. At any moment, any round, any second, men of this weight can knock out their opponent due to their huge physicalicality. The question is, is Parker going into a potential Joshua fight with a wrong mindset or mentality that will cause him to crumble on the big stage? Under the bright lights in the UK, where the crowd will be supporting a sporting superstar, can Parker have the courage to rely on his chin then? As stated, in order to beat Joshua, who is viewed by many as “the man” in the division, you need more than that to beat him. You need more strings to your bow, more craft in your game. Don’t you remember when “Prince” Charles Martin came to UK shores and made the exactly same claim? Look what happened to him…