Alexander Flores Tabbed To Face Joseph Parker In December Homecoming
By: Jake Donovan
The story going into the initial announcement for Joseph Parker’s year-end bout in Christchurch, New Zealand was a long-awaited return to his home country.
The opponent that has been secured for that very occasion also indicates a need for a long-awaited return to the win column.
Photo Credit: Joseph Parker Twitter Account
Parker’s forthcoming hometown showcase now has an official dance partner, as the former heavyweight titlist will square off with California’s Alexander Flores. The bout will headline at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch, New Zealand, marking Parker’s first home country appearance since a 12-round win over Razvan Cojanu last May.
On the surface, the selection of Flores (17-1-1, 15KOs) is designed to ensure that Parker (24-2, 18KOs) enters 2019 on a high note after having suffered back-to-back losses. While there is no shame in suffering defeats to unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua and top-rated contender Dillian Whyte, winning still goes a long way in this sport.
Still, where some see an inexperienced opponent, Parker’s handlers are focused on the combination of a perceived knockout artist coming in with nothing to lose.
“With Joseph coming off two straight defeats – however unlucky – a third defeat would be catastrophic for his career,” Duco Events’ David Higgins said. “Alexander’s undoubted punching power makes this an extremely dangerous assignment for Joseph – so it is fair to say I am the most nervous I have ever been before a fight.”
Meanwhile, Parker’s chosen opponent couldn’t be any calmer heading into by far the biggest opportunity of his career.
“There is no way this fight goes 10 rounds,” insists Flores, whose lone career loss came at the hands of former titlist Charles Martin in 2014 when both were unbeaten prospects. “I’m going to knock him out. A lot of people might not have heard of Alexander ‘The Great’ yet – but they’ll all know who I am after December 15.”
Flores—a 28-year old Mexican-American from California—is unbeaten in his last four starts following the aforementioned loss to Martin. He attributes the setback to the minimal time he had to train for the opportunity after accepting the fight on less than two weeks notice.
Three consecutive knockout wins in Mexico has put Flores on the right track, but in Parker takes a massive leap in competition level. Still, a confident fighter is a dangerous fighter, or so goes the motivational speech in the former titlist’s training camp.
“We’ve known for some time it was likely to be Flores and it is great to have that confirmed,” Kevin Barry, Parker’s head trainer revealed. “These guys are the same height and they both pack a serious punch, so it stacks up as a great contest. This is a dangerous fight. A fight where Joseph Parker is fighting for his career.”
“After a five-year undefeated run that took Joe all the way to the WBO World Title, we now find ourselves in very unusual territory, coming off back-to-back losses. Joe has never been in this position before and needs a top performance. Joe finds himself under huge pressure to not only to win this fight, but to win big and get his career back on track.”
Prior to the aforementioned losses to Joshua and Whyte, Parker enjoyed more than a year-long stay as an unbeaten heavyweight titlist. He first laid claim to alphabet hardware in a Dec. ’16 points win over Andy Ruiz in New Zealand, where he remained for his first title defense in outpointing Cojanu.
Three straight road trips followed, all taking place in jolly old England. Parker came up aces in the first leg of the UK tour, outpointing Hughie Fury last September before conceding his belt to Joshua in their unification bout this past April.
A far more bitter pill to swallow was his subsequent loss to Whyte this past July. Parker’s slow start and two suffered knockdowns proved too much to overcome, despite his late rally and dropping Whyte in the 12th and final round.
Rather than dwell on two straight losses for the rest of the year, Parker was eager to get one more fight in 2018. Now that he has a confirmed opponent, a clear state of mind comes of his preparation for fight night.
“I’m really glad that Alex is coming to New Zealand full of confidence,” Parker admits. “For me boxing is all about the challenge – and this is another big one. I know what is stake, I need to win and win well.
“I need to knock him out and I will knock him out. But I can’t focus on that. I need to focus on getting better each and every time I get in the ring.”
Five UK Based Fighters Who Need a Big 2019
By: Oliver McManus
12 months can be a long time in the sport of boxing – it can see you go from the cusp of retirement to the brink of a world title and for these next boxers, they’ll be hoping that 2019 is the year for them because these are five fighters in need of a BIG 12 months.
Photo of Jay Harris and Kristian Touze
Andrew Selby – Flyweight
There was a time, not so long ago, that we thought we had seen the last of Andrew Selby when he announced “I’m not fighting anymore”, quite understandably this prompted confusion because for a long time he had been scheduled to fight for the European title – indeed a clash with Vincent Legrand was postponed back in June – and Selby was deemed, by many, far good a talent to be allowed to go to waste.
Last month, at last, there was some good news as Jamie Sanigar won the purse bids for his challenge to, Frenchman, Legrand and set a firm date for the Welshman’s return – October 27th at the Newport Centre. Since then there has been mixed signals about the fight with no official confirmation save for the European Boxing Union website who, incidentally, have assigned officials for the contest but the good news is that Selby is back in the gym with fire in his belly, once more.
Further to that, consider the former Team GB member has been mandated to fight Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar in a world title eliminator with the winner set to face, WBC Champion, Cristofer Rosales – a man who Selby comfortably outpointed last May – and you start to see the makings of a sensational 2019 where, if all goes well, we could see the crowning of a new British world champion.
Anthony Yarde – Light Heavyweight
With one sharp intake of breath we get reminded that Yarde is the number 2 ranked challenger with the World Boxing Organization and, swiftly after, it is explained to us that he’s still not ready for a world title because he’s learning the trade.
Now there’s nothing wrong with either of those statements but the constant juxtaposition of the two leave me crying out for Yarde to have a monumental 2019 and this is nothing to do with Anthony Yarde, not at all, because he is a genuinely nice guy and rather this frustration is born out of a desire for him to do well and prove critics wrong – at least, attempt to prove them wrong.
Since fighting Nikola Sjekloca on December 9th, Yarde has seen his stock fall with the 27 year old facing, less than inspiring, Tony Averlant and Dariusz Sek in the meantime; that performance against Sjekloca was a top quality, high energy, explosive performance against a respectable opponent whilst against Averlant and Sek it is almost as though he’s dropped down to their level.
Next out on October 20th Yarde, now 16 and 0, will face the Argentine national champion Walter Gabriel Sequeira who steps up to the plate after, it is believed, Sean Monaghan priced himself out after initially accepting the fight – regardless, the whole boxing world wants to see Yarde get in the ring with an opponent will provide him with a solid test and there are plenty of British light-heavies that would be gunning for the fight.
Hopefully, for him and us, 2019 will see Anthony Yarde start to really make his mark on the 175lb scene.
Lawrence Okolie – Cruiserweight
British, Commonwealth, WBA Continental Champion with only 10 fights under his belt, things are going pretty well for Okolie from a belts point of view and you certainly can’t criticise Okolie for the guys he’s been willing to face – Isaac Chamberlain, Luke Watkins and Matty Askin in only his eighth, ninth and tenth fights.
That’s all fine and dandy but his much-hyped contests against Chamberlain and Askin, in particular, have failed to live up to the expectations as Okolie imposed a largely physical, holding game-plan much to the irritation of those watching.
Far be it from me to criticise a professional boxer unnecessarily but Okolie himself admits his performances were disappointing and, yes he got the win, but he’s in a situation where he needs to start letting his hands go and relaxing through the bout in order to become a big Box Office attraction.
With strong amateur pedigree, Okolie was always going to take a hastened route to the top but the cruiserweight sensation needs to go back to basics and work the jab to tee up openings that he can exploit in order to look every bit as good as we know he can be.
Plenty of domestic challengers are salivating at a potential fight with the Hackney-man and I like Okolie, I really like him, but time is a friend not an enemy and, having smashed his way through his first 10 fights, he can afford to be patient for 2019 in terms of names but the performances need to be big.
Okolie needs to be seen as adaptive and exciting otherwise people, having seen what they have, will be inclined to switch off – I’ve little doubt as to the quality and desire of the cruiserweight prospect so he should be able to take it in his stride!
Joseph Parker – Heavyweight
Returning to the ring on December 15th having been subjected to back-to-back losses against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, respectively, Joseph Parker is in danger of becoming the forgotten talent of heavyweight boxing.
Making history by becoming the first New Zealand heavyweight world champion, you’d be hard pressed to suggest that Parker looked impressive in the fight that saw him crowned WBO king – against Andy Ruiz – or indeed in his subsequent defences over Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury and, actually, that fight against Dillian Whyte is, arguably, the best we’ve seen Parker.
That sounds weird to say given that he was on the reverse side of a unanimous decision but when Parker really got into his rhythm he was able to control the tempo of the fight, force Whyte into hot water and he looked like a physically imposing roughhouse fighter as opposed to the technical man we’ve got used to seeing.
It raised questions of WHY haven’t we seen this fire and aggression from the Kiwi before and whilst I can’t answer that question, I look forward to seeing how it impacts the 26 year olds fight plans going forward.
Parker gets the benefit of being in a comparatively weak heavyweight pool of talent than in years previous with a distinct gulf in quality even ranging throughout the top 15 and that should, on paper, ensure that Parker gets back into the world title mix sooner rather than later and, certainly, there are relatively few challengers that you wouldn’t tip Duco’s main man to topple.
The rebuild starts on December 15th, the climb back to a world title shot continues into 2019.
Now this is the slightly left field option for this article because who said I was going for the obvious? Jay Harris is a fighter who has had a frustrating year thus far with the Commonwealth flyweight champion scheduled to defend his belt – won via unanimous decision over Thomas Essomba back in February 2017 – against Dexter Marques back the first quarter of the year before visa issues put that fight indefinitely on hold.
He would fight for the first time in nine months when he entered the ring at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport on August 11th and eased his way to a 60-55 points decision over Critisan Narvaez and with those rounds under his belt he quickly set about establishing a date to defend his coveted belt.
That fight, against Ross Murray, was scheduled for this month but pushed back ever so slightly to November 3rd at York Hall; Mo Prior, the man behind British Warriors, has taken the Welsh flyweight under his wing and is already on a mission to provide Harris with regular fight dates for, put simply, the 28 year old is a sumptuous talent.
With one on the winner of Ryan Farrag vs Sunny Edwards – that bout for the WBO European Super Flyweight strap – Harris has already been mandated for the British Super Flyweight belt as well as the EBU-EU title so there are plenty of opportunities available for the Swansea-man, and that’s without even considering the permutations of the CBC!
By no means is this an exhaustive list of fighters who require a big one next year nor, for that matter, is it the five fighters who need it the MOST but they are guys who, in my opinion, should be hoping to leave a mark over the course of the next 12 months.
For guys like Jay Harris it is through no fault of their own that they are in the frustrating situation that they are and, certainly, there are plenty other candidates for this article – Kell Brook, Amir Khan, Liam Walsh, Roman Gonzalez to name just a handful but keep an eye out on these five fellas as they look for a career-best 2019.
Joseph Parker Returns To New Zealand For December 15 Homecoming
By Jake Donovan
It hasn’t been the kindest of years to Joseph Parker, but he will get to end 2018 on a high note—with a long overdue New Zealand homecoming.
The former heavyweight titlist will return to his homeland for his first home fight since May ’17, as promoter Duco Events confirmed his next ring appearance on December 15 at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch, New Zealand.
An opponent has yet to be named for the occasion, but for the moment remains secondary to regaining some of the swagger lost in recent months.
“Whoever they put in front of me I need to get the job done – and get it done well,” Parker said during a confirming press conference on Wednesday. “Having experienced what it is like to reach the pinnacle of the sport, and then come back down again after a couple of tough defeats, I’m more motivated than ever to get back on top.”
Parker (24-2, 18KOs) began the year as a heavyweight titlist, having won a 12-round win over then-unbeaten Andy Ruiz in their Dec. ’16 vacant title fight. Two successful defenses followed: a 12-round win over Razvan Cojanu in May ’17, his last fight in New Zealand; and a road win over Hughie Fury last September in Manchester, England.
The aforementioned bout was the first of three in the United Kingdom, but his last both as a titlist or undefeated boxer. Parker fell well short in a 12-round points loss to Anthony Joshua in their high-profile title unification clash this past March, and again in a disappointing defeat to Dillian Whyte in their title elimination clash in July.
“After a five-year undefeated run that took Joseph all the way to winning the WBO World Title we now find ourselves in very unusual territory – coming off back-to-back losses,” noted Kevin Barry, Parker’s longtime trainer. “Joe has never been in this position before and needs a top performance.”
There’s hardly any shame in suffering defeats to the likes of Joshua and Whyte, but the latter has left a bitter taste in his mouth. Parker struggled early, even hitting the deck twice before rallying in the championship rounds.
It proved too little, too late, even with Whyte being floored and forced to spend the rest of the fight in survival mode.
“I could have and should have won that fight, but that’s boxing,” Parker admits. “It’s now time to get back to work. I can’t wait to fight again in Christchurch. I’ve got really good memories from my last time there (a fourth round KO of Solomon Haumono in July 2016). It’s a great homecoming for me.”
The location was also a no-brainer for his handlers, who rejected offers from other hosts in the decision to return home.
“We had plenty of options for Joseph’s return fight after a couple of tough but highly credible losses,” stated David Higgins, director of operations for Duco Events. “But Christchurch was a clear front runner from very early on.
“We’ve got great partners in the city, such as ChristchurchNZ, Christchurch Airport and Christchurch Casino. It’s thanks to their unwavering support of Joseph that we’re able to bring what will be a fantastic event to the city.”
With the right performance, it will also provide the first step towards another title run for Parker. At the very least, it’s his perfect excuse to head home for the holidays.
Dillian Whyte Withstands a Final Minute Storm to Solidify #1 Status
By: Ste Rowen
Dillian Whyte overcame a last-minute onslaught from Joseph Parker to win a unanimous 12-round decision and stamp down his status as the number one heavyweight challenger.
Now 24-1 (17KOs), Whyte was by far and away the more active of the two fighters. The former British champion was walking down the New Zealander for the majority of the fight. In the 2nd round the two heavyweights appeared to awkwardly clash heads, which forced Parker into losing his balance and hitting the canvas. The referee scored it a knockdown for Whyte, and whether it dented Joseph’s morale or really did affect him physically, the knockdown set the tone for the majority of the fight. Dillian piled on the pressure, and Parker appeared to be waiting for his arms to do something of their own accord.
The former WBO champ fired off a wayward combination here and there but the O2 arena crowd were not getting the performance they expected from the 24-1 (18KOs) fighter. Into the 9th and the ‘Body Snatcher’, Whyte, landed a brutal left hook, which sent Parker sprawling to the floor.
This time there was no doubt about it being a knockdown.
That 10-8 round appeared to make it conclusive in favour of Dillian. The question now seemed to be whether the Brixton fighter would push on for the stoppage or settle for a points win.
Joseph had other things in mind as a rally from him rattled Whyte in the penultimate round. Then in the 12th, Parker dropped the home fighter with a right hand, but it was just too little, too late. Whyte was in trouble, but he held on until the final bell, and both boxers looked as if they knew the result straight away.
The final scorecards were 113-111, 115-110, 114-111, all in favour of Whyte.
‘‘It was a good fight.’’ Said Dillian later. ‘‘Parker’s slick. We knew he was gonna cheat his way through and fight in the last couple of rounds. I’m just annoyed I messed up at the final hurdle… I got rocked, I took a knee. The referee started at 4, I thought he started at 2, he went ‘4’, I was like ‘s***’, I didn’t have time to get up, but I got up so I’m learning.’’
Parker was buoyant in defeat,
‘‘I got 12 rounds to fight, I gave it my best, the other man won but I’m always gonna come back stronger…This is just the beginning.’’
So, what’s next for arguably, the best heavyweight outside of the world title holders,
‘‘I’d like to fight Joshua again in the rematch but there’s still a lot of things to work on, but if he wants it he can have it. I’m the ‘Can-Man’…I might get out again in October, September. I don’t wanna wait that long (Until Joshua’s already scheduled April 2019 date). I’m still inexperienced, I still make a lot of mistakes. So, one more fight between then would be great.’’
Dereck Chisora vs. Carlos Takam
‘‘This was very tough.’’ The words of Dereck Chisora, now 29-8 (21KOs) after his come from behind, 8th round KO-victory over Carlos Takam.
The two African-born fighters went at it from the 1st minute, but it was the Cameroonian-born boxer in Takam, that established the upper hand in the early rounds. Chisora seemed to be stuck to the ropes the first 3 minutes as Carlos landed huge hooks that looked as if he was setting up an early finish.
Dereck survived though, and even strangely refused to sit down in between rounds when told to by trainer, Don Charles. But the former world title challenger continued to take heavy, accumulative punches. Then came the 8th round however, and despite continuing to be the dominant fighter, Takam, 35-4-1 (27KOs) heading into tonight, received a massive overhand right to the temple from the Brit. He was floored, got up and then took an almost identical second right hand which sent him back down and forced the referee into calling an end to the bout. Dereck Chisora is now the WBA ‘International’ heavyweight champion and officially, back in the mix.
‘‘I realised I couldn’t trade with him toe-to-toe. I knew the overhand right was gonna catch him but I could not chuck it in the early rounds cos I knew I’d be left open. So, on that round (Round 8) something in my mind just said ‘You know what? It’s time to send it home. ’’
‘‘I bet you any money I win fight of the year with this fight.’’
‘‘It’s up to these fans who they wanna see me fight. I’ll say names, but I know really and truly they come out and go the other way round. They don’t wanna fight me. I’m 34 but I feel 21 right now.’’
Nick Webb vs. David Allen
Dave Allen, now 14-4-2 (11KOs), surprised everyone with a 4th round, one-punch KO of the previously unbeaten, Nick Webb.
Webb was dominating the bout, even through to round 4, but Allen timed a devastating right hand to send Nick flying through the ropes and springboard Allen, who just a few weeks ago was contemplating retirement, into Lonsdale belt contention.
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.
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 v. Joseph Parker Undercard Preview
BY: Ste Rowen
Controversy, Olympians and a world title fight. Here’s the breakdown of this weekends Joshua vs Parker undercard.
Alexander Povetkin v David Price
The most high profile, and controversial bout of the undercard pits Alexander Povetkin, 33-1 (23KOs) a man who failed multiple drug tests in 2016; resulting in two aborted fights with Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne; vs David Price, 22-4 (18KOs) a man whose 3 of 4 career defeats have come against two men who went on to fail drugs tests in Tony Thompson and Erkan Teper. All three controversial defeats to Price were punishing stoppages, which makes it even more remarkable that Price has offered himself up as some form of sacrificial lamb for the extremely talented, but unbelievably tainted Russian.
Povetkin was last in the ring in December, scoring a whitewash, 12-round unanimous decision victory over the last man to overwhelm David Price to a 7th round stoppage, Christian Hammer. Price’s only fight since the Hammer defeat was a 6-round decision victory over one of Britain’s favourite heavyweight gatekeepers, Kamil Sokolowski.
On paper, this fight is the definition of ‘a puncher’s chance’ for David Price. In reality, it’s a stepping stone bout for Povetkin to attempt to setup a fight with Anthony Joshua in the near future. That is, as long as his consequent drug tests come back negative…don’t count on it.
Ryan Burnett v Yonfrez Parejo
The world title fight on the undercard sees WBA bantamweight champion, Ryan Burnett take on mandatory challenger, Yonfrez Parejo, 21-2-1 (10KOs). Burnett, 18-0 (9KOs) was forced to vacate the IBF strap he won when he defeated Lee Haskins last year, due to an interim bout between Haskins and Emmanuel Rodriguez falling through, meaning Rodriguez’s team called for purse bids with Burnett, after Matchroom had already made a deal for the Parejo bout.
Parejo, currently on a 4-fight win streak, last tasted defeat at the hands of Burnett’s most recent adversary, Zhanat Zhakiyanov, when he lost a 12-round split decision back in 2015. Burnett hasn’t fought since earning a correct, but unjustly wide decision on all three scorecards over Zhakiyanov back in October. He suffered a ruptured ligament in his neck, which scuppered talks of an immediate fight with Rodriguez, and subsequently lost him the IBF belt, but the Northern Irishman didn’t seem too concerned at the thought of dropping a belt back in February,
‘I don’t really get involved in the politics, but we knew that when we faced Zhakiyanov that it was likely we may have to vacate one of the belts because of mandatories, but I’ve unified the division and now we move on to new challenges.’
Josh Kelly v Carlos Molina
One of Britain’s most exciting prospects, Josh Kelly, 5-0 (4KOs) takes on former super welterweight world champion, Carlos Molina.
Kelly, who fought to the last 16 at the 2016 Olympics, defeated by eventual gold medallist, Daniyar Yeleussinov, is being accelerated though the early stages of the pro ranks by trainer, Adam Booth who’s no passenger when it comes to recognizing talent.
Molina is currently on a two-fight losing streak, so it seems like the perfect time for Kelly to step in with someone as experienced as the Mexican. A real statement to the rest of the welterweight scene would be for Kelly to become the first man to stop Molina.
Anthony Crolla v Edson Ramirez
Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla returns to the ring since earning a competitive decision victory over Ricky Burns in October. Crolla, 32-6-3 (13KOs) takes on Mexican, Edson Ramirez, 18-2-1 (8KOs) in an 8-round contest. The former WBA world champion is aiming to get back into the world title mix at lightweight but, speaking to The Independent, wouldn’t rule out a domestic dustup with Luke Campbell.
‘I need to get out there and get another win and then we can look for a big fight in the summer…Luke Campbell and I both want to win world titles and I don’t think either of us would have a problem fighting the other…I’m not targeting anyone in particular, I just want a world title shot. I’ll take any of the champions.’
Joe Cordina v Hakim Ben Ali
Hometown favourite, Joe Cordina fights for his first professional title when he takes on late stand in, Hakim Ben Ali, 19-5 (1KO) for the WBA International lightweight title.
Cordina, 6-0 (5KOs) hasn’t had quite as an accelerated start to his pro career as his fellow 2016 Olympian, Josh Kelly.
This weekend’s fight will be just the second time he’s stepped in the ring with a fighter holding a wining record. He was originally set to face Andy Townend, 21-4 (14KOs) who had to pull out last week due to injury.
Joshua Buatsi v Bartlomiej Grafka
The third 2016 Olympian on the card, Joshua Buatsi comes up against journeyman, Bartlomiej Grafka, 20-28-3 (5KOs). The real test for Buatsi will be if he’s able get Grafka out early, if not, expect a relative 6-round sparring session for the exciting prospect.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Vargas, Andrade, Joshua, Parker, Golovkin, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of March 20th to March 27th covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker Press Conference Quotes
Undefeated heavyweight world champions Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker kicked off fight week with a tense faceoff at the sprawling Sky Headquarters outside London as they approach Saturday’s Heavyweight World Championship Unification live on SHOWTIME from Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
The British sensation Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) owns the IBF and WBA titles, while New Zealand’s Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) is the reigning WBO Champion. The two will meet on Saturday in just the 11th unification in heavyweight history in front of what is expected to be nearly 80,000 boxing fans at the national stadium of Wales.
The blockbuster matchup marks just the second heavyweight championship unification between undefeated world titleholders. The last fighter to emerge victorious from a matchup of unbeaten heavyweight champions was Mike Tyson in 1987.
Here’s what the fighters had to say at Tuesday’s press conference.
“I feel like this is what we have to do. If champions don’t face off, then we won’t bring excitement to boxing, and I feel like we heavyweights are the flagbearers for the sport.
“I’m peaking, but what I need to do is remain where I am. If you want to see my peak then I need to face stern challenges. The better opponent, the better I get.
“We embrace the challenge of facing an undefeated champion. He’s a champion, he’s done well for himself. He’s quick and he can take a punch.
“I have to mentally say the fight will go 12 rounds in my head, but if I had to pick I’d say nine rounds. I win by knockout, 100 percent.”
“For a long time, I’ve had to rely on my strength and my physicality. Over the 10 years I’ve been boxing, I’ve built a lot of mental strength as well. And now I’m combining the two. I feel confident and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“I take it one thousand percent one fight at a time. A lot of talk has been happening about AJ vs. Deontay (Wilder). People need to be realistic. I’m looking at Joseph Parker, who is a lively challenger. He’s a champion for a reason.
“Let’s say we look into a crystal ball and I’m victorious, then we can start talking about future plans. But, for now, my future starts on Saturday. That’s where I’ve got to look to and not really beyond that moment.
“There’s definitely a fear of losing because it keeps me going. I have to make sure I stay focused on the task at hand. The fear of losing keeps me motivated because I know how quickly the tables can turn. One minute you’re the man and the next you’re not.
“I’m definitely preparing for a 12-round fight. One hundred and ten percent. It isn’t a problem to go the distance. But let’s say I’ve got 20 quid in my pocket and I’m looking at Joseph Parker vs. Anthony Joshua. I believe Anthony Joshua will knock Joseph Parker out, myself.”
“I feel ready, confident and sharp. I feel better than ever, and I’m taking these belts back to New Zealand.
“I see Joshua as a great champion. The reason why we wanted this fight is because we respect what he’s achieved in the boxing world. We respect his team and what they’ve been able to achieve on this side of the world. And we love challenges. We see him as a big challenge and that’s the reason we want to fight him.
“I feel it’s my time. I’m young, I’m fast, I’m strong. And I’m determined to win. I’m not here for a payday. I’m here to take those belts back with me. I’m here to be part of history. I’m not doing it just for myself. I’m doing it for my team, my family and my country.
“He’s at his best. I’m at my best. This is the perfect time for the fight. There are going to be no excuses. Whoever wins is the best on the day.
“I’m going to beat Joshua. I haven’t decided how I want to beat him yet. I don’t know if it’s a knockout or if it’s points or decision. We’ll see how I feel on fight night. But I’m going to be undefeated going home with the belts. These are mine.
“I’m in the best shape ever. Whoever wins is the better man. There’s no excuses on my side. I’m feeling great, I’m feeling strong and I’m going to leave it all in the ring. I’m punching hard, I’m punching with way more speed so I’m looking to put on a display.
“This is the perfect time because he’s undefeated. He’s got belts that I want. We’re both at the top of our game now and it’s a good time to see who the best is.
“I’m confident I’m going to win. I’m taking the belts home.”
Demetrius Andrade Ready to Step in to Fight Gennady Golovkin on May 5th
Undefeated, two-time world champion Demetrius Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) is ready and available for a showdown with unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, should Canelo Alvarez not be cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on April 10th for his May 5th rematch with Golovkin.
Andrade, who is ranked number #1 by the WBO in the middleweight division, feels that if Alvarez is not cleared by the commission for his recent positive test for Clenbuterol, he would be the most obvious candidate to face Golovkin.
“I am ready, willing, and able to step to the plate on May 5th to fight Golovkin,” stated Andrade. “I am always in the gym, and I will start VADA testing right now. I guarantee that I will pass all the tests. I know other fighters can’t say the same thing. I am undefeated, and a two-time world champion.
Golovkin went through a period where nobody wanted to fight him. I am that guy now. The man nobody wants to fight. Everyone says, what does Demetrius Andrade bring to the table? Besides being the best American middleweight, and one of the top 3 middleweights in the world, everyone knows who I am, and they know how good I am. My question is to those who say that I don’t bring anything to the table. What did Murray, Adama, Geale, Monroe, and Rosado bring to the table? None of the top contenders want to fight me so I believe that if Canelo is unavailable for May 5th, I want the opportunity to face Golovkin for the unified middleweight championship of the world.”
Golovkin’s Promoter Tom Loeffler stated after Alvarez was temporarily suspended that his fighter will still compete on May 5th with or without Alvarez.
“Whatever the commission does, Gennady would still fight May 5th if Canelo is out,” he said. “If for some reason it’s not against Canelo, we’ll figure out the best course of action at that time, but he is training to fight May 5th.”, Loeffler told Dan Rafael of ESPN.com
Like Golovkin, Andrade is also in the gym, and will be ready should he get the call for May 5th.
Raymond Serrano Looks to Continue Career Upswing Against Malik Hawkins in Philadelphia
This Friday night, welterweight contender, Raymond “Tito” Serrano will look for his 4th consecutive victory when he takes on undefeated prospect Malik Hawkins in the 10-round main event at The Fillmore in Serrano’s hometown of Philadelphia.
Serrano whose winning streak has coincided with his changing of training venues to Los Angeles, has defeated three fighters in a row that sport a combined record of 25-4.
In his last outing, the 28 year-old Serrano was impressive in defeating previously undefeated Enver Halili via 8th round disqualification.
“I had a great training camp. Freddie Roach trained me and I will be cornered by his assistant Ernie Zavala on Friday,” said Serrano. “Training in Los Angeles is a big part of my winning streak. Out there, I am always around big fighters, and I can focus on boxing 100% of the time.”
Another big part of his resurgence is his manager Mark Cipparone of Club 1957 Management. Cipparone has helped put Serrano in the best possible situation for Serrano to succeed, and Serrano fully acknowledges that.
“Mark is certainly a big part of this. He makes sure that I get tested in each fight. The reason that I am around such good training is because of him. With all that, I feel that I can compete with anyone at welterweight, and I will continue to show it.”
In Hawkins, Serrano is facing an undefeated but untested foe, and he feels with his confidence at a sky high level and ring experience will prove to be the difference.
“Hawkins is undefeated, but this is not the first undefeated fighter that I have fought (It will be his 6th undefeated opponent). I know he is young, so I want to see what he has. I am more experienced, and that will be a huge factor on Friday. Experience is everything. I know what it takes to beat these guys. I don;t think he will be able to do to me what he has to his previous opponents.”
Cipparone has been seeing the steady improvement in the 11 year-veteran Serrano.
“His last four fights have developed him further then he has at any point in his career. I would even say beginning with his fight against (Undefeated Prospect) Alex Saucedo. Raymond would have won the fight if he didn’t get caught in the 2nd round. Look at the scores. I think that fight was a turning point for him. It gave him the confidence that he could compete on the level of the top of the division,” said Cipparone, who also manages heavyweight Joey Dawejko.
“Raymond has the natural ability to go along with a tremendous ring I.Q. He is such a sophisticated fighter in there, and now he has found that warrior inside of him. I feel it is his time to get to the top of the welterweight division. This fight is a gift to the promoters as it is for the NABA-USA title with the winner not only going to get the belt, but a ranking in the WBA. You don’t see fights like this on the club level shows.”
Francisco Vargas Workout Quotes
Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs), two-time Fight of the Year winner and former WBC Super Featherweight World Champion, hosted a Los Angeles media workout on Tuesday, March 27 at Westside Boxing Club ahead of his battle against “Lightning” Rod Salka (24-4, 4 KOs) in a 10-round super featherweight fight in the main event of the April 12 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will air the fights beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT, and stream live on ESPN3 starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT.
Fighters from the explosive Vargas vs. Salka undercard also participated in today’s workout. San Diego’s Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (7-0, 5 KOs) will go up against Filipino boxer Recky “The Terror” Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) in a scheduled 8-round lightweight fight. Aaron “Silencer” McKenna (2-0, 1 KO) will return against a soon-to-be-announced opponent in a four-round welterweight fight. Opening up the card is Rancho Mirage’s Javier Padilla (5-0-1, 5 KOs), who will fight in a scheduled six-round super bantamweight affair against Mexico City’s Ricardo Arias (1-2-1).
Here’s what today’s participants said at today’s workout:
FRANCISCO “EL BANDIDO” VARGAS, former WBC Super Featherweight World Champion:
“I’m excited to put on another spectacular show for all the fans watching in person and for everyone tuning in live on ESPN. Rod Salka has a ton of experience. He’s got good technique and good speed, so it will be a good tough fight. I’m totally focus on this fight, but I would love to get a rematch with Miguel Berchelt.”
GENARO “EL CONDE” GAMEZ, Lightweight Prospect:
“I’m fighting a tough Filipino in Recky Dulay. I’ve seen him work and he’s good, but I know I have the talent and skills to pass this test. Filipinos maybe coming in shocking other Golden Boy fighters, but that won’t happen to me. I’m trying to be the best at 130 and 135 pounds, so I’m ready and willing to fight any other Golden Boy Promotions prospect at any time.”
AARON “SILENCER” MCKENNA, Welterweight Prospect:
“I’m delighted to be returning to Fantasy Springs so soon after my knockout win last week. I train hard as if I’m fighting every week. I’m ready and my team is ready. I look forward to putting on another great performance for the fans. See you all on April 12.”
JAVIER PADILLA, Super Bantamweight Prospect:
“It’s great training with Joel Diaz. He’s pushing us to our limits so we can be champions one day. We practiced more on working the body. This fight is a rematch. We fought to a draw and this time I will for sure get that ‘W.’ I want to become one day become world champion and accomplish what I set out to do.”
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.
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.”