New Zealander Joseph Parker made encouraging progress to a world title bout with Britain’s Anthony Joshua, should the Watford-born heavyweight get past American Dominic Breazeale next month. Parker is set to be Joshua’s mandatory challenger for the IBF title. The undefeated youngster managed to gain a unanimous decision victory over hard-hitting Carlos Takam of Cameroon at the Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland last Saturday.
It was undoubtedly Parker’s biggest test of his career so far, facing bucket loads of experience against the 35-year-old African. Struggling early on with Takam’s left hook, Parker managed to adjust himself and get through to halfway. In the eighth round, a flurry from the Kiwi seemed appropriate if it came off, but it only hurt his opponent rather than send him to the canvas. Parker seemed to have run out of steam after this, which was a concern that many people had leading up to the encounter. Both men got their way through to the final bell, exhausted from taking some explosive shots in a thrilling watch. The scorecards read 116-112 (2) and 115-113 all in favour of the hometown-hero, extending his unbeaten record to 19-0.
Many questions will be asked as to whether or not Parker can take the next step-up in class when he faces an opponent of higher quality. There is no doubt that he possesses ferocious power and terrific speed when punching, but areas for concern would be his defence. Takam managed to get through with some terrific shots, particularly in the last minute of the rounds, sending him back against the ropes. Whilst on the ropes, Parker looked like he was struggling to maintain his concentration, needing his coach on many occasions to help him in the difficult scenarios. There were a lot of examples in the fight when his defensive side of his boxing abilities became unstuck, particularly when he left himself wide open to counter shots, which Takam took full advantage of most of the time.
Certainly Parker’s frame had a slight advantage in the ring, with a two inch height advantage at 6ft 4in. This was proved in the fight, with the Cameroonian missing on occasions, swinging wildly when aiming for the head of Parker. Both men have the same length with regard to the reach at 76 inches, but Parker seemed to be using his reach much more effectively than Takam, fending him off with success in the centre of the ring.
AJ poses a completely different challenge. For one, Parker this time will be the shorter of the fighters, with Joshua at 6ft 6in. A superior reach difference is also in the champion’s favour at 82 inches. Although Takam has a very string build, Joshua has a tremendous physique with much more power, his 100% KO record highlighting that his build is used to full effect. Having got through a tiring bout against an ageing boxer, Parker has gained an enormous amount of experience by going through to the end against a worthy opponent. He can take with him a huge amount of confidence into a fight with Joshua knowing that he has gone the full scheduled 12 rounds in tough circumstances, whereas the IBF title holder has never been past 7 rounds in his 16 fights. Both boxers seem to have a similarity when it comes to the halfway stages of fights, with Parker appearing to have become tired during the eighth round against Takam. Joshua looked out of breath and also stunned against fellow Brit Dillian Whyte as early as the second round in December last year at the O2 Arena in London.
When these two boxers enter the ring in the future, it should be a fantastic watch and I would predict that it wouldn’t go the full distance but would go further than Joshua has ever been before. In order to keep his belt, I would presume with Joshua’s stamina untested that he would have to finish the bout early. I think Parker has the slight edge of boxing ability, although Joshua’s power may be too much for the challenger.
Written by Joe Dutton
Sources: Stuff, Sky Sports and Cyprus Reporter