Anthony Joshua Defeats Joseph Parker in Heavyweight Unification
Anthony Joshua, taken the distance for the first time in 21 paid bouts, collected a third world title belt when he cruised to a convincing if drama-free win over the WBO champion, Joseph Parker, and looks in good shape to raise his game for what will be a more demanding assignment against Deontay Wilder.
Two of the judges saw it 118-110, and the third had it 119-109 – a bit harsh on the New Zealander, who might have had a share of the sixth and a shout of stealing the seventh in a fleeting period of success. But the verdict was, overall, fair. It was a technical fight, a clinical victory.
As Joshua said in the ring: “I was always going to stick behind the jab, one of the most important weapons in boxing, and kept the right hand up. This is boxing. It’s what we do. Forget the hype. Joseph Parker is a good world champion. As I said before, this would be about boxing. The main thing now is I am the unified heavyweight champion of the world.”
After a 25-minute preamble – from ring walks to three national anthems and Michael Buffer’s stentorian lead-in –the Samoan-New Zealander and Watford’s most famous fighting son finally got down to some rumbling. Both looked nervous – as they should do; at stake were Joshua’s WBA and IBF titles and the WBO belt that Parker brought to the negotiations, as well as the prospect of mega-fights up the road against Wilder and, perhaps, Tyson Fury.
The referee, Giuseppe Quarterone, was controlling his first full world title fight. This was also the first world heavyweight title fight in this country between two unbeaten champions, a distinction that speaks to the chaos in the sport as much as the excellence of the combatants. All distractions were set aside when the fighters let the punches go.
Joshua, 12lb lighter than in his last defence at 17st 4lb, still outweighed Parker by nearly a stone, and the visitor kept his distance in the early sounding out.
Remarkably, this was his first outing since surgery in early December on both elbows; that, surely, generated unwanted uncertainty. Joshua was in the shape of his life.