Before Joseph Parker takes on Junior Fa, Christopher Reive looks at his top 10 bouts.
10. v Dillian Whyte. 28 July, 2018
Yes, Parker lost the fight, but things could have been very different had his being knocked down in the second round been rule as a head clash and not a knock down. It brought some controversy to the fight, and Parker’s team looked into appealing the decision afterwards.
But even with that controversy, this was a strong performance from Parker. Against the bigger body of Whyte, who tried to bully Parker around the ring and was twice warned for questionable tactics, the Kiwi’s speed and movement saw him have success throughout the contest.
Whyte began to show signs of fatigue midway through the bout, but the power was still there for the British fighter, who again dropped Parker in the ninth round. Parker got one back in the final round but ran out of time to try to finish the job.
Whyte was awarded a unanimous decision, 113–112, 115–110, and 114–111. While it was little consolation, many boxing pundits scored the fight in Parker’s favour.
9. v Daniel Martz. 5 December, 2015.
Martz was an important fight for Parker. The American, standing at 202cm, was the tallest opponent of Parker’s career at that point and his fights leading up to the bout suggested the longer reach of Martz might cause one or two problems for the Kiwi. He was well and truly the favourite with bookies, but this was expected to be a good test for Parker.
Parker blew Martz away in the first round, changing up his looks from body to head and ultimately putting the American away by planting an overhand right on Martz’s left ear.
With the win, Parker surged to No3 in the WBO heavyweight rankings; moving ahead of long-time champion Wladimir Klitschko.
8. v Solomon Haumono. 21 July, 2016.
Sometimes, a punch just lands flush. That was the case in Parker’s fight against Haumono, with a right uppercut putting Haumono down in the fourth round.
Haumono had asked questions of Parker in the opening three rounds. While Parker got the better of them, Haumono’s willingness to keep coming forward and force Parker to fight on his back foot behind his jab did put Parker under pressure.
However, Parker made the most of an opening in Haumono’s guard in the fourth round, slicing through with a perfectly placed uppercut to end the fight.
7. v Răzvan Cojanu. 6 May, 2017.
This was an interesting fight on several levels. It was Parker’s first defence of the WBO heavyweight title, Cojanu was a former sparring partner of his, and he had to deal with more than simply boxing in the ring.
Cojanu proved to be quite the talked in the ring, taunting Parker throughout the bout and seemingly trying to frustrate him to the point of making a mistake.
Parker clearly out-boxed Cojanu and was piling up the numbers on the scorecards. However, he did have to be reminded late in the bout not to be drawn into a firefight and risk undoing all his work by getting knocked out. He kept his head until the final moments of the 12th round, before unloading on Cojanu before the final bell.
It was a comprehensive victory, with Parker winning by unanimous decision – 119–108, 117–110, and 117–110.
6. v Alexander Flores. 15 December, 2018
On the back of two losses, this was a big fight in Parker’s career. A step back in level of opponent – after fighting Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte in his two previous bouts – but not one to be taken lightly with Flores having just one loss from 19 career fights.
In the build-up to the fight, Parker noted he needed an impressive win over Flores – and that’s just what he got. Parker spent most of the fight working the body of Flores, getting the better of the first two rounds and never really seeming like he was in any trouble.
Throughout the bout, Flores complained about some of the body shots landing below the belt, and that proved to be his undoing. With Flores against the ropes, Parker went to work on his body and landed two blows around the belt (though appearing to land below it). Flores dropped one hand to his cup and looked to the referee. But with Flores’ hands down, Parker took advantage and clobbered him with a straight right which sent Flores to the canvas.
Flores found his way back to his feet, but didn’t see out the round as Parker laid the pressure on and landed a good combination to plant Flores again and earn the knockout win.
5. v Kali Meehan, 15 October, 2015
In Parker’s career, there have been several fights that have served as a sort of milestone. His win over Meehan, a former WBO heavyweight title challenger and legend of the New Zealand scene, was a passing of the torch moment confirmed Parker was the guy to watch now.
While Meehan’s best years were behind him, he had beaten Shane Cameron in his most recent fight before meeting Parker and was not to be taken lightly.
Parker dominated the fight, clearly winning the first two rounds before putting Meehan away in the third; following up a straight left with a heavy overhand right for the TKO victory.
4. v Alexander Dimitrenko. 1 October, 2016
While somewhat tarnished by the controversial way the fight finished, there was no doubting Parker dominated this fight from beginning to end.
The Kiwi heavyweight invested in the body of his Russian counterpart, and when he Dimitrenko was able to land, Parker returned fire with more conviction and volume than that of the shot he wore.
Parker dropped Dimitrenko once in the first round and twice in the second round, before ultimately landing the final blow late in the third round. That final blow was a heavy shot to the side on Dimitrenko, who had one knee on the canvas at the time – with a body shot landing seconds earlier and forcing him to a knee.
On another day, it might have resulted in a disqualification, however Parker claimed a well-earned TKO victory for his dominant performance.
3. v Francois Botha. 13 June, 2013.
For those out there who may be scratching their heads a little as to why Parker’s win over a 44-year-old has landed so high up the list, go back and watch the fight.
There are a couple of crucial elements at play here. One, this was an opponent who had shared the ring with the likes of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield; who challenged Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko for world titles. Two, this was just the sixth fight of Parker’s professional career. Yes, Botha was past his prime, but he was still a wily veteran with ability and was the first international opponent Parker would meet.
This was a very clean performance from Parker, who maintained distance well to stay out of range of Botha’s power shots and looked for openings to land combinations rather than forcing the action.
After a strong showing in the first round, Parker pushed on in the second. He threatened a few times with his power, before ultimately stinging Botha with a strong overhand right late in the round. Not allowing his opponent any time to recover, Parker swarmed. While Botha was able to initial block some shots, Parker landed a heavy right hook and followed it up with a few more punches to put Botha out on his feet and draw the stoppage.
It was the fastest loss of Botha’s career, beating the mark set by Lennox Lewis by eight seconds.
2. v Carlos Takam. 21 May, 2016.
Every professional athlete wants their coming out party; an opportunity to make their name heard not just in the local scene, but on the world’s stage in their sport. For Joseph Parker, the opportunity came against Carlos Takam.
With just two losses in 36 professional bouts – and one of those being to Russian powerhouse Alexander Povetkin – Takam had made a name for himself as one of the toughest and most durable fighters in the heavyweight division. At the time, this was by far the biggest step up in competition Parker had experienced.
You wouldn’t have known it by the way Parker handled himself in the bout though. While it was the first time he had been a full 12 rounds, Parker fought well behind his jab and landed some heavy shots as well, working away at Takam and slowly wearing him down.
While Parker came forward behind his jab, Takam threatened with some big counter shots – launching overhand lefts and rights with bad intentions when Parker came into range. Takam’s best moment of the fight came after being rocked by Parker in the fourth round, with the Cameroonian surging back late in the round.
However, Parker controlled to ring for almost the entire fight and used it to his advantage. In the eighth round, Parker swarmed and landed some heavy shots on Takam. While he was unable to get the finish, it was a good comeback after Takam got the better of the fifth and sixth. From there, the pace slowed down, but Parker continued to build the points for a unanimous decision win and a graduation into the sport’s top tier.
1. v Andy Ruiz Jr. 10 December, 2016.
As far as the spectator side of the sport goes, this bout tops the list as the most entertaining contest of Parker’s career. With the WBO Heavyweight title on the line, both Parker and Ruiz Jr brought the heat to make this a firefight of the highest calibre.
As has been the case throughout his career, many discounted Ruiz Jr coming into the bout due to his appearance, but by the end of the first few rounds the Mexican had become the embodiment of not judging a book by its cover.
The longer, taller fighter, Parker worked to establish his jab and maintain the distance early in the bout, however initially had troubles with Ruiz Jr’s speed as the Mexican working well on the counter as well as moving in and out of range to land a shot or two.
Ruiz Jr had the better of some very close opening rounds, but the fifth round was the turning point for Parker, who began to have success behind his constant movement. While Ruiz Jr kept walking Parker down, the Kiwi rarely stayed in place and, as a result, Ruiz Jr was not able to do as much work with his positions. Parker on the other hand stuck some good body shots as well as some upstairs, particularly late in the round in what was a real turning point in the fight.
Parker ultimately came away with a majority decision win, with two judges awarding him the bout 115-113, while the third scored it a 114-114 draw.
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