21 fights, 3 belts and one more to go. Anthony Joshua went the 12-round distance for the first time last night and taking a wide decision over formerly undefeated Joseph Parker before 80,000 fans at Principality Stadium.
Parker, playing the role of spoiler, fought exclusively off the backfoot while shooting multiple jabs and looking to steal rounds with isolated right hands. This allowed Joshua to methodically press the action behind sporadic straight shots to the body and clipping left hooks inside. Parker showed good defense in avoiding Joshua’s deadly uppercut, but couldn’t get anything going inside due to an inexperienced ref breaking action too quickly.
The slow action through four rounds made the stanzas close, but Joshua continually held the edge due to his aggression and harder shots, particularly when he forced Parker to give ground from jabs. Parker got more aggressive in the middle rounds, briefly stunning Joshua with a short right hook in the fifth and outworking his foe in the seventh. But Parker failed to take any risks afterward and seemed content to make it to the final bell.
The scores reflected this in Joshua winning unanimously 118-110 (twice) and 119-109.
The big news from the contest was the post-fight interview where Joshua declared he wanted Deontay Wilder. I’m still not convinced we get it next, but the public banter will continue building the hype internationally. My gut tells me Wilder does bite and take the Dillian Whyte fight while Joshua gets a massive domestic payday against Tyson Fury. Should Joshua and Wilder retain, we’ll finally get the final unification sometime around May 2019.