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Joseph Parker vs Anthony Joshua: Can the South Auckland underdog triumph?

Tuesday 16th January 2018

Now is the time.

 

Joseph Parker.
Joseph Parker.

Photo: Photosport

Leading boxing experts are already writing off boxer Joseph Parker’s chances in the biggest fight of his life.

Parker has secured a dream bout against British world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in Cardiff on March 31. It will be by far the biggest test of the South Aucklander’s career.

But Parker, who is himself the World Boxing Association champion, is unfavoured by international experts.

A post this week on renowned site thesweetscience.com predicted Joshua “walks through Parker in a brutal manner”. The Ring magazine has called Joshua the clear favourite, while Joshua’s promoter has admitted they are already assessing possible future opponents.

Parker was mocked by television host Graham Norton at the weekend for his bulky frame. “He must be a world-class athlete, but he doesn't look like one, does he?” Norton said.

Parker was dubbed the “King of Pies”.

We sought a second opinion … and a third, a fourth and a fifth.

MIKE ANGOVE - NZ’S LEADING FIGHT SPORTS ANALYST

Mike Angove (left) and Colonel Bob Sheridan.
Mike Angove (left) and Colonel Bob Sheridan.

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Contrary to popular belief, I think style-wise Parker matches up quite well here. Parker has always done well against taller opponents thanks to his fast hands.

Joshua is clearly the bigger man and will outweigh Parker by probably 5-7kg and is very, very long, while Joe’s reach is not particularly long for a heavyweight. So Parker is going to have to work well on the inside, know his range well and move his head more than he has done in previous fights. Parker’s conditioning is questionable at this point, too. He has faded in late rounds.

But it is an intriguing fight. Parker has the better chin of the two and has faster hands. Joshua is clearly the more powerful man. I would rate Parker’s chances at 40 percent, but it’s definitely a fight he can win if he prepares well.

There’s been a lot of talk about Joshua’s chin. I think he does stand very upright and his chin can be exposed at times, particularly to the left hook, but Parker’s better punch is his right so he’s really going to have to work at getting some length to his left.

SHANE CAMERON - RETIRED NZ BOXER AND COMMONWEALTH GAMES MEDALLIST

Shane Cameron before fighting David Tua in 2009.
Shane Cameron before fighting David Tua in 2009.

Photo: Photosport

It’s going to be a hard fight for Joe considering that Anthony Joshua is definitely the man in the heavyweight division - 20 wins by 20 knockouts speaks for itself.

It’s going to come down to how strong Joe is mentally. I’m friends with him so I’d better be careful what I say, but he hasn’t really performed at his best lately, not like his early days where he would get someone on the ropes and keep going until the fight was over. He’s been too cautious his past half-a-dozen fights. He can’t be cautious against Joshua.

Credit to Joseph’s team for getting this shot, it’s obviously a massive payday but he needs to put that thought aside and back himself completely. For Joseph to win the fight, he needs to utilise his best asset, which is his speed. He certainly doesn’t have the power of Joshua. He needs to get in there fast and then move out of the firing zone and Joshua’s big range. He needs to rack up those scoring shots.

If Joseph’s trying to get inside and muscle around with a big guy like that, it’s not going to work. He needs to be smart. But in saying that, everyone is beatable. It doesn't matter who you are. Not many fighters stay undefeated their whole career.

GRANT ARKELL - JOSEPH PARKER’S FIRST BOXING COACH

Grant Arkell.
Grant Arkell.

Photo: Chevron Hassett / The Wireless

I’m very proud to see him taking this fight. A lot of people are saying Joseph’s fighting someone like Joshua too early, but I don’t think he’s got anything to lose. As long as he doesn’t get beaten in the first couple of rounds, he’ll still get a few good paydays and another shot further down the track.

Everybody at the gym (Papatoetoe Boxing Gym) is excited and we’ll definitely all get together to watch it.

One of the most important things for me is that Joseph needs to have a clear plan - that’s something that has appeared to be missing in his previous fights.

I give Joseph a good 45 percent chance. His last few fights weren’t that spectacular, but they were against guys who didn’t come to fight, but hit and run. You couldn’t really judge Joseph’s progression.

Joshua can punch - he’s a strong boy - but only if you stand in front of him. Joseph needs to move more as he’s got the speed. A lot of Joshua’s past opponents haven’t moved.

If Joseph can keep punching and moving and keep scoring points it will frustrate Joshua. It will wear him down. Then Joseph only has to watch out for those big bombs. If he’s going to win, it will probably be on points.

LANCE REVILL - RETIRED NZ BOXER AND COMMONWEALTH GAMES MEDALLIST, FORMER PROMOTER, REFEREE AND NZ BOXING ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT.

Lance Revill.
Lance Revill.

Photo: Photosport

I honestly don’t think Joseph Parker is ready. I think the only way he can win is if Joshua gets complacent and doesn’t take Joe seriously enough.

There’s been talk about Joshua’s “glass jaw”, but I don’t necessarily see it. A fighter can get knocked down, it’s only when they stay down that you say they’ve got a “glass jaw”. Joseph’s got a good chin on him, I’ve got to give him that, and it will take him a long way.

I think Joseph needs to trim down to the lightest he’s ever been. When he’s heavy, he fights poorly and sluggish. If he can come in 103/104 kg, we could see a good fight. Otherwise, he’s going to get knocked out.

Joseph isn’t a thunderous, one-punch knockout puncher like a George Foreman or Ken Norton, so he really needs to concentrate on training really hard. The problem is I don’t think he can win on points, even though that might be his tactic, because the fight’s in the UK and will have local judges.

‘COLONEL’ BOB SHERIDAN - US BOXING COMMENTATOR WHO HAS BROADCAST MORE THAN 10,000 FIGHTS INCLUDING ‘THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE’ AND TYSON VS HOLYFIELD II

I absolutely think Parker has a chance. I thought he might have another fight before taking this one, but it’s the logical progression for him to fight the guy.

In his last fight, Parker had to do a lot of chasing, but Anthony Joshua is coming to knock him out. Parker is going to have to keep him off him with his jab and hope he can land something big and powerful early.

I don't think Parker needs to get his weight down. I think he has grown into his body and hasn’t lost his speed. He’s much thicker in the chest but has kept his arms like Muhammad Ali - not big and bulky like Joshua’s. In later rounds, big arms don’t help.

I know Parker has never been down and Joshua has, but I actually have a lot of respect for guys who have gotten knocked down and come back to win. I think that shows a hell of a lot of toughness. We’ll have to see how Parker can handle getting knocked down.

If Joe wins, especially considering the part of the world he’s in, I think it will have to come by knockout. If they’ve got a British referee and depending on what refs they have, that could be a significant aspect of the fight.



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Max is a journalist who has worked for The Star, Bleacher Report and RNZ News.
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