They can’t all be great, it turns out. The heavyweight mini-hot streak of excellent bouts among top contenders ended Saturday on Showtime, as Anthony Joshua took a lukewarm decision over Joseph Parker.
This had the makings of another crackjack fight, like we got with Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder vs Luis Ortiz. It wasn’t like that.
The worst things about the fight, we must say at the kickoff, were the referee and and the scorecards. Giuseppe Quartarone made utterly mystifying decisions, stepping in to stop legitimate action almost as if he wanted the fight to suck. The judges weren’t much better, scoring a close contest like a blowout: 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109.
This writer had it 115-113. Despite all the knockouts on both these guys’ ledgers, this was more a tactical firefight than bombs away. It kind of makes sense if you’re wary of the other guy’s power. But it didn’t make it much fun.
Parker was sharp defensively with unpredictable movement, worked his jab both as a lede and a counter, and did work to the body. When he did those things enough early on, he won rounds. When he didn’t, Joshua edged rounds by hitting harder and being the aggressor.
In the 5th Parker finally started to take some chances by opening up with combos to the head, and as such the fight got marginally better. An elbow during a Joshua salvo opened up a cut near Parker’s left eye in the 10th. Joshua’s glove tape kept coming loose. That these are among the most remarkable things that happened says something.
Ultimately, Joshua got taken the distance for the first time ever in a difficult test, and Parker remained viable as a contender. It didn’t turn the division up to 11 like we might’ve liked, but them’s the brakes. Joshua vs Wilder remains the best possible unmade fight in boxing, not just the heavyweight division. May cooler heads prevail and we get this fight sooner rather than later because somebody’s pouting about contract terms.
(Anthony Parker takes aim at Joseph Parker; via)