Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker
At the Principality stadium in Cardiff, Wales, a major, very significant fight takes place, a unification fight between two undefeated heavyweight world champions.
Home fighter, WBA and IBF heavyweight world champion, Anthony Joshua, is the favourite, whilst away fighter, New Zealand's Joseph Parker, the WBO heavyweight world champion, is very much the underdog.
Joshua is considered the favourite, and the A-side by most, as the bigger fighter, the fighter with more belts, the outstanding win over Wladimir Klitschko, and the more dominant fighter in his career so far, but Parker, though not with a great reputation, is talked up by those in the boxing world who know him, and some, Bob Arum, Stitch Duran, predict him to cause the upset, and if nothing else, is another undefeated heavyweight world champion in his own right.
Both Joshua and Parker weigh in at lighter weights than expected, Joshua, 12 lbs lighter than in his previous fight, Parker, 11 lbs lighter than at his heaviest.
The fight starts at a tentative pace, as both fighters are looking to set each other up, look for openings, and give nothing away.
For two narrow, fascinating rounds, Joshua is patient, and on the front foot, while Parker is mobile, and he throws the jab regularly. Parker out works Joshua by landing more leather, finding the target with the jab (though not often) enough maybe to steal a tight round, but Joshua, possibly taking the lead with a couple of aggressive bursts, landing a couple of eye catching shots, and landing with the weight of punch.
Joshua starts to settle down in round 3, backs Parker up with some hard jabs, makes Parker fall short with his jab, and begins to pick him off. Throughout round 3, Parker is still mobile, able to defend himself well, but it made to work, and is made to miss with his response, as Joshua steps off the gas at the right times. Round 4 is a similar pattern, both fighters throw the jab, Joshua lands his with some accuracy, Parker is unable to find a home for his jabs. Joshua begins to follow his jabs up with the right hand as he senses Parker getting frustrated with his point scoring.
Joshua begins round 5 with a couple of great jabs, Parker, still mobile, but beginning to look predictable. Parker, still defensively sound, is made to work hard as the round progresses, but is also aggressive, and seemingly confident as he applies pressure on Joshua, missing with a lot, but able to keep Joshua on his toes. In the later part of the round, Joshua keeps up his good work with the jab, but Parker proves to be right in the fight as he lands a great right hand flush on the jaw of Joshua behind a throw away jab, and having found the target once, Parker lands another right hand before the round closes out, not hurting Joshua, but having good success.
Round 6 begins at a more aggressive tempo, the fight seems to be catching fire, but the referee seems like maybe he doesn't want the fighters to exchange.
Both fighters feint, and try to punish each other for mistakes at the start of round 7, but before long, the referee, not for the first time, frustrates people by unnecessarily creating distance between the two fighters. Midway through the round, Joshua smacks Parker with a clean jab, but they clinch about 15 seconds later, as Parker chops away at the body. The referee breaks the two fighters up despite clean inside fighting, several times. Both fighters raise their aggression late in the round, Joshua lands with the heavier blows, Parker continues to attack the body, and lands more leather.
Both fighters try to overpower each other to start round 8, Joshua seems to get the better of the action slightly. The referee begins to split the two fighters up more often, much to many peoples' confusion, and frustration, his interfering seems to tactically trouble both fighters, especially Parker. Depsite his relentless attention, the referee seems to miss the tape on Joshua's glove, unravelling. In a competitive round, Parker is still mobile and aggressive, but it is Joshua who lands the clean punches in round 8.
Round 9 is cautious, but both fighters take the fight to each other. Parker's higher output seems to help him get the best of inside exchanges as the fighters trade shots. Parker is able to force Joshua out of his element, throw clusters of punches at him, and land a few, overall, out landing a less active and not so accurate Joshua, but Joshua is still the aggressor for much of the time, and lands with the more quality punches, as he catches the eye by tagging Parker a couple of times.
Joshua seems the technically superior fighter in round 10, Parker still makes it a rough fight, moves, makes Joshua need to use his patience, but it is Joshua's jab which dictates the round, and is the most successful weapon on either side, as some of Parker's attacks are stifled.
Parker tries to increase his aggresion and work rate in round 11, but the clinches are scrappy, and when the pace is dropped, Joshua is able to point score with the jab. Joshua lands a clean right uppercut midway through the round, a great shot which Parker takes well.
Round 12 is fascinating, Parker is mobile, focused, but Joshua backs him up with the jab, dictates with it, and catches Parker coming in whenever he takes a chance, he also finds more success in sweeping power shots around Parker's defensive guard. Parker is still competitive, and still active, he throws the jab often, but can't find any accuracy. Joshua is the aggressor in the closing stages of the fight, as he lands a few solid jabs before the final bell.
The general concensus is that Anthony Joshua has won the fight, Joseph Parker and his team don't seem to think they've won, almost all if not all opinions amongst broadcasters and scoring fans, are that Joshua has won, some think it is close, some think it is quite a wide margin, and a comfortable win, but the verdict seems predictable.
The decision is announced, and Michael Buffer reveals that all three judges score Joshua a winner by very wide margins, two, by 8 points, the other by 10, almost all unofficial scorers think the scores are too wide, but nonetheless, Joshua wins by landslide margins on all the cards, wins the fight via unanimous decision, goes 12 rounds for the first time in his career, defends his titles, and wins a new title, also.
Joseph Parker makes no excuses, is confident of bouncing back from defeat, he gives Joshua a lot of credit, and is gracious in defeat.
Anthony Joshua seems happy with his win and his performance. 'AJ' states that he is proud of what he is doing for British boxing, he also tells the public, "positive energy doesn't just stay in the arena, take that positive energy with you", Joshua uses the word, 'unity', and says "there is power in the people, god bless".
When asked about WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, Joshua responds, "I'll get him in the ring, and I'll knock him spark out!".