Photos: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
In a huge heavyweight unification fight in front of 78,000+ at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) added the WBO title of Joseph Parker (24-1, 18 KOs) to his collection.
Parker fought a tactical fight all the way through, while Joshua applied pressure. Neither fighter landed a lot of clean shots but Joshua did more. Official scores of 118-110, 118-110, 119-109 seemed a little too lopsided, but the right man won.
“I am not going to judge my performance,” Joshua said afterward. “That’s for my coach to do. My strategy was to get behind the jab and we did that. The good jab will take you around the world.
“Through rounds 10, 11, 12, I was focused. I went the 12 rounds and I fought him hard, but it was light work. This is boxing. This is what we do. Joseph Parker is a world champion. I knew he was going to be determined. Sometimes this is how it goes. It becomes a tactical boxing fight. This was going to be about finesse, and I controlled behind the jab and used finesse. We cannot forget – I am now the unified heavyweight champion of the world.”
“Definitely, we are not satisfied. One step at a time. We are not our best yet but we are at the pinnacle of boxing. I always go in the deep end, always challenge myself. I am ready for more challenges. We will see what’s next.”
Parker didn’t dispute the decision in what was the first unification fight between undefeated heavyweight champions since 1987.
“Today, I got beat by the better man. The bigger man,” Parker said. “My plan is to go home, work hard and come back again. I would work harder. Make more punches. I would love another go. We could have worked inside more but whatever happened, happened. You can’t go back and change that…I am young, strong, fit and ready to come back and challenge again. We’ll be back again stronger.”