If the fight between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker wasn’t an absolute stinker, then they at least left a strong whiff in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium. We fill stadiums and pay for premium TV when AJ takes to the ring because we expect blood, serious disorientation and more trips to the deck than a sailor.
That didn’t materialise on Saturday and not many people were left impressed. Joshua’s main rivals, the man holding the final part of the heavyweight crown Deontay Wilder and the unbeaten former champ Tyson Fury, were both quick to slag off the glamour division’s top dog.
One person who seemed to really enjoy his night was B-class referee Guiseppe Quartarone.
The Italian acted like a chaperone at a school disco and intervened every time the two fighters got within touching distance. The official’s actions put Parker off his moves more than AJ.
The New Zealander started the bout brightly and his hand speed made Joshua look cumbersome. The Britain’s power wasn’t evident either and the first half of the fight was much closer than the judges scored it.
Josh started to make his reach advantage tell in the later rounds and his jab began to be effective. AJ was fitter too and maybe some of the blows the Londoner landed had the less dramatic effect of tiring Parker.
The dull contest was wrapped up by the judges giving almost every round to AJ.
It’s the first time the unified champ has been taken the distance, but rather than being a bad night at the office, this might have been Team Joshua’s plan all along. AJ came to the contest the lightest he’d been in a long time and there was a pre-determined tactic behind throwing so many jabs and left hooks.
If social media existed when Lennox Lewis plied his trade as the undisputed daddy of the late 90s, the boxing bore would have been buried under an avalanche of social media do-do after every contest. Maybe Joshua is starting to consider the win more important than the fans’ entertainment.
The biggest name in boxing called out Wilder and Fury after getting his third major belt wrapped around his waist.
Fury hasn’t traded leather professionally for two and a half years and still doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for a fight of this magnitude in the summer.
Wilder claimed this week he wants a ‘body’ on his record, which is as hard comprehend as it is to be light-hearted about, and he seems to be truly gunning for Joshua.
In the interview after his win AJ said he wants the fight in the UK, however with the fans’ reaction and the money on offer in Vegas it might be time to take the show on the road.
A tactical repeat by Joshua would surely bamboozle Wilder and leave the ‘Bronze Bomber’ with only a couple of opportunities to land his money-maker. It might not be what we want to see, but we’ll all tune in with the hope that AJ follows through on his promise to ‘spark out’ the loud-mouth American.