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Where does Joseph Parker go from here?

Mervin Johnson


Where does Joseph Parker go from here?

Early on Easter morning Kiwis woke up, huddling around their TV screens and laptops, one would think the All Blacks were playing in rugby the world cup.

But no, it was a heavyweight boxing match between New Zealand’s own world champion Joseph Parker and British superstar Anthony Joshua.

The fight was a spectacle, fought out for 12 hard rounds in front of 78,000 cheering and booing fans at the Principality stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Unfortunately, the result was not in Parkers favour and he lost his WBO heavy weight title to Anthony Joshua by a unanimous decision.

In the post-fight press conference the media swarmed Parker, asking him the usual painful questions about what he could have done better or wanting a comment on his victorious opponent’s next challenger.

All things considered, Joseph Parker conducted himself with the highest level of sportsmanship during and after the bout.

For example during the fight he was matched with a fighter 2 inches taller and boasting a 6 inch reach advantage, in boxing there is a saying, ‘A big good fighter will usually beat a smaller good fighter’, and that’s exactly what happened.

Team Parker obviously had a game plan which was to box to get in near and then rough up the brit in close quarters, but referee Giuseppe Quartarone had other plans.

Every time parker successfully closed the distance, Quartarone split the two behemoths and made them reset from further apart.

If you think constantly stopping the shorter fighter from getting close enough to hit his taller opponent may impact the fight in an extremely crucial way, you are correct.

For a spectator watching from behind a screen, I felt helpless for Parker as he kept being taken out of his comfort zone and thrown into the direct firing line of the 6”6, 110 kg muscle-bound brit.

Many boxers and commentators remarked on the referee’s sheer lack of awareness about the magnitude of the fight he was officiating.

Former British Heavyweight champion David Haye took to social media saying “The ref truly spoilt what potentially could have been a more entertaining fight, perhaps his day job is being a school teacher, as he was determined to break up any signs of fighting.”

Dillian Whyte a potential challenger to Joshua’s belts, Legends of the sport Sugar Ray Leonard, Carl Froch and veteran ring announcer Michael Buffer all expressed the same sentiment.

Now whether that is corruption or in-experience is yet to be known.

But that was only one side of the story, the other side was unfortunately in the Kiwis corner.

Early in the fight it was apparent the referee was not going to allow any clinch fighting but Parkers corner was unable to advise him on a different strategy.

Round after round the South Auckland boxers’ corner kept giving him the same advice and he kept giving them the same results.

There always has to be a plan B but for Team Parker they didn’t seem to adjust to the gun-shy referee.

And so the points on the score cards kept getting wider and wider, both men were willing to stand toe to toe and exchange bombs but those exciting moments didn’t last more than a few seconds.

Much criticism is being put onto parkers coach Kevin Barry, some of it is unjust, some not so much.

Barry has trained some high level fighters during his career and is an Olympic silver medallist himself.

However trainers just like boxers need to improve over time or their fighters become predictable.

Same strategy, different day.

Watching Anthony Joshua’s last three fights and compared to Parker you see one fighter improving and constantly implementing different games plans while the other going through the motions and making the same mistakes.

In 2018 Parker cannot do the same thing he did in 2016 or 2014 when he was fighting Oceania level talent.

He is now among the upper echelon of the heavyweight division, a land of giants, Anthony Joshua 6’6, Deontay Wilder 6’7 and Tyson Fury 6’9 all with power and skill behind their larger than life frames.

As a fan of the sport and supporter of the kiwi wonder boy, I sincerely hope he evaluates his relationship with his coaches and training partners.

Loyalty to your first trainer is important but not at the detriment of your career and a good trainer should want the best for his student even if it means letting them train with other coaches.

Parker has the fighting IQ and physical attributes to propel him back into the mix and regain his title as world champion but he needs a fresh set of eyes and hands to help him hone his craft.

That being said, this loss is far from being a career ender, it was only his 25th fight with a steep learning curve.

To put that into perspective, the great Lennox Lewis lost his 26th fight and came back to dominate for the next 6 years.

Boxing hall of famers Vitali Klitschko and Evander Holyfield lost their 28th fights.

Even former undisputed champion of the division Dr. SteelHammer Wladimir Klitschko lost his 25th match when his trainer ran into the ring begging the referee to stop his fighter being punished.

Those names mentioned above went on to rule the heavy weight divisions for decades after their first losses.

All things considered this loss may be the best thing for Joseph Parkers career, he should feel proud of his efforts in Cardiff on Saturday night and take this time to reflect, learn and come back better with a new sense of purpose and some new weapons in his boxing arsenal.

ends

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