Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker
After a large percentage of the 80,000 in The Principality Stadium had, rather unsportingly given his charming personality, booed WBO champion Joseph Parker into the ring, the mood suddenly changed. Anthony Joshua, the reigning IBO, IBF and WBA heavyweight champion of the world, stepped into the spotlight. Walking out in a shiny white dressing gown, AJ paused, aloft on a plinth as, his initials ablaze behind him, pyrotechnics went of and flames roared. For a second the worry was that Joshua’s nylon-looking gown would go up like Guy Fawkes night, but he made it safely to the ring.
After the obligatory Michael Buffer show, and the four anthems: Samoa, New Zealand, England and Sweet Caroline, the fight finally got underway. With all those flames as Joshua entered, and almost everyone predicting another stoppage win, the only question was when this fight would catch fire. The first began with Parker keeping his left hand low, surely an invitation for that booming right of Joshua, who looked weights bigger than the man he was attempting to unify against.
However, the first stanza was cautious, and blurred into the third as the two champions felt each other out. Joshua used his jab well, and has deceptively effective head movement. Parker remained on the outside, seemingly waiting for Joshua to make the first move. Unfortunately, Joshua had adopted the same approach. The Brit’s dominance of the centre, and better use, or rather, use of the jab, won him one and three on the Southpaw Jab card, but not two, which was shared as nothing of interest happened, however hard the comms team worked to breathe life into it.
All night there had been very little by way of impartiality, except by Carl Froch. It does make one pine for BoxNation, particularly when SKY cut to adverts between round and for much longer during breaks between fights. If you’re charging £20 to watch some boxing, and filling a stadium with 80,000 paying fans, keep the commercials to a minimum; nobody likes them anyway, except for the people who make them.
The fourth round saw the action warm up, but only to tepid, as Parker in particular seemed more adventurous. With a minute left of the round, Joshua finally unleashed a huge right hand, which the Antipodean just about ducked out of the way of. The fight, which with so much at stake was always going to be a little nervy realistically, continued to become more interesting in the over the middle rounds, the fifth saw Parker’s first attack to bother AJ, although he seemed to rather enjoy it!
Six and Seven saw much tussling on the inside, at one point with the men continuing to throw as they were entangled and the poor, out of his depth referee Giuseppe Quatarone, attempted to break them apart. Unfortunately Mr Quatarone didn’t help the action, as from this point, he would break up any inside fighting as soon as he could get to the big men. Parker hurt Joshua at the end of six and looked good in the seventh, too.
Sadly, for the unbeaten Parker, the end of the seventh was where Joshua took over, but never thrillingly so. In round nine Joshua produced a spell of wonderful of inside work, landing some meaty looking uppercuts and hooks. For a man with such big levers, he uses them well at short as well as long range. Anthony, it must also be said, is rather adept at being, let’s say “clumsy”, with his elbows and forearms. That straight right hand of Joshua’s, his famed destructive shot, remained cocked as time ticked towards what looked an inevitable end.
Just before the bell calling the end of an insipid eleventh round, Parker appeared to dip Joshua, though no replays were shown and it was never mentioned by the pundits. The phantom punch was also academic, as Anthony, too tired and careful for the savagery required to keep his 100% knockout percentage saw out the final three minutes knowing realistically he’d won the fight. Continuing to use good footwork to evade from Parker’s launched, by now wildly off balance attacks, Joshua didn’t press the matter. But then he hadn’t really all night. It was an uninspiring fight for the fans, but a good win for AJ.
The scores came, and Joshua took cards of 118-110, 118-110, 119-109. Southpaw Jab had it 117-112 (Adam) & 117-113 (Chris) AJ used his post fight victory speech to emphatically blow his own trumpet, while Parker was gracious and accepted defeat with the dignity he’s become associated with. Next up for AJ? “Wilder or Fury”, he said. We shall see, he now has an extra belt, and an extra governing body to keep happy.
David Price vs Alexander Povetkin
Alas, poor David. The big Liverpudlian, loved so much some were saying he could triumph against the former world champion, and recurrent PED cheat Alexander Povetkin, found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel knockout. Price and begun brightly, shimmying and making life awkward for his much shorter opponent, but Povetkin’s body, body, head successes won the first. The second Price started to cover up better, but for all his hand waving, still didn’t move his head. Povetkin took that round, too.
Three saw both men take an eight count. Price after getting caught coming in, he frustratedly bashed his fists on the canvas, but he rallied, unhurt for now. Right at the end of the round Alexander walked on to a peach left hook counter from Pricey, and staggered back across the ring, saved only from the canvas by the corner post. The fourth saw both men essentially take a round off, aware they could hurt one another.
Then came the end, how much of an end it was remains to be seen, as a left hook to the body and a right behind the ear of Price scrambled the big man’s senses. Standing upright, with his hands by his side and a dazed expression, he was obviously out on his feet. The referee didn’t have time to save him. Povetkin didn’t need asking twice and delivered a left hook to the jaw which, in slow motion, looked absolutely horrifying. Price’s upright, out cold body fell backwards to the canvas, crashing into it, and surely into retirement.
David Price has had an amazing career, and is loved across the country. It hurt many, this writer included, to see him stopped so sickeningly, and thankfully he’s said he’s now fine. This should be the end, though, despite his rather optimistic tweet. Povetkin can go on to do something more, probably, but he’d get beat by Whyte, AJ, Wilder, Fury… and doesn’t deserve them anyway.
Rest of the Bill
There were plenty of Matchroom’s top talent on display in Cardiff; Anthony Crolla continued his comeback after back to back defeats to Jorge Linares were followed by a points win over Ricky Burns. The Manchester fighter took on Edson Ramirez, 18-3-1 (8), of Mexico and won convincingly on the cards. Crolla, 33-6-3 (13), builds towards presumeably headlining a show in his home city later this year.
Former Team GB and now 5-0 (3) light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi secured a points win over Bartlomiej Grafka, 20-29-3 (9), of Poland. Previously unbeaten Morgan Jones was halted by Mose Auimatagi in the sixth of six rounds, with only eight seconds left and ahead on the cards at the time. Jones is now 12-1 (5), Auimatagi improves to 10-1-2 (6). Joe Cordina got his sixth stoppage win in seven fights in front of a his home fans. The Cardiff boy, 7-0 (6), halted Hakim Ben Ali, 19-6 (1), in the third of a scheduled ten rounds for the WBA International lightweight belt.