Beware of Joseph Parker

Can Joseph Parker Overcome Anthony Joshua?
Parker throws a right hand en route to a decision win over Andy Ruiz.

Following the first press conference between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker, there was a feeling of anticipation and excitement amongst many fans and media. The bout has been viewed by the majority of observers as an inevitable step towards the Brit fully unifying the belts and becoming the undisputed force of the heavyweight division. After all, it may well be true that on fight night Joshua will enjoy advantages such as greater reach, power, experience and form.

However, before hastily dismissing the New Zealand native it is wise to remember that in the world of boxing, destiny does not unravel in the predictive minds of enthusiastic observers, but is forged by the fighting fists of warriors in the ring.

Joseph Parker is the WBO heavyweight champion. A title achieved not through default or political meandering, but through working his way through the rankings, winning an elimination fight against the teak-tough Carlos Takam, and following it up with a victory against the rotund but deceptively good Andy Ruiz Jr. He then defended his title against Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury.

Despite being unimpressive in some of those contests, Parker did prove to have certain vital credentials. He fought for 12 rounds in those meetings and demonstrated a decent engine in those winning efforts. Joshua’s stamina however, has been questioned by critics in his most recent appearances against Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam, but his bludgeoning power provided him with an escape route, as he halted his opponents before the final bell.

The WBO titleholder has never been stopped, knocked down and rarely wobbled. With his sturdy frame, thick neck and a cinder block head, he has natural attributes to absorb heavy-blows and punishment. In possession of fast hands and respectable power having scored 18 knockouts from 24 of his victories, he will certainly give AJ reasons to be wary. Providing he can survive Joshua’s most explosive bombs and take the fight into the championship rounds, we could be treated to a frantic finish, with each belt-holder testing the other’s limits. So intriguing are the strengths of the competitors, that this could be billed ‘The Unstoppable Force Vs The Immovable Object’

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In his most recent outing, Parker travelled to the UK and fought Hughie Fury at the Manchester Arena. It was a drab affair which some believed the Englishman deserved the decision. Whilst looking slow, disinterested and cumbersome, he displayed few nerves in unfamiliar territory and came away with the all-important win.

History however, has been littered with stories where the protagonists shone brightly on the grandest of stages after looking uninspired and dull in previous contests. Evander Holyfield is a great case in point. Many felt the numerous wars he was involved in with the likes of Dwight Muhammad Qawi and a grueling trilogy with Riddick Bowe had faded the former undisputed cruiserweight champion when he turned in a lacklustre showing against Bobby Czyz.

Prior to his first meeting with Mike Tyson, Holyfield was given little chance at pulling off the upset. What unfolded was a one-sided trouncing–‘The Real Deal,’ who many viewed as a lamb being put to slaughter, was in fact a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as he tore through a bewildered ‘Iron’ Mike en-route to stopping him in the 11th round. It secured his legend and gave him his career-defining, signature victory.

The biggest prize-fights offering the greatest rewards can inspire combatants to dig deep and deliver their very best. If fights against Cojanu and Fury did not motivate Parker, then perhaps a unification match against the giant Joshua, in front of 80,000 British fans will provide him with an ideal stage to produce his finest form.

Joshua should rightly be considered the favourite in this rare and unique heavyweight unification match-up. But with Parker being an undefeated, prime and talented titlist, and an acknowledgement for the lessons of the past, the result of this fight should not be considered a formality

With so many people intrigued and invested in the AJ story, this is one chapter that could provide numerous twists and turns–and maybe even an unpredictable ending.

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