British superstar Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) unified the WBO heavyweight title with his WBA and IBF belts in a very lacklustre and uninspired twelve round points victory over an awkward and survival-minded Joseph Parker (24-1, 18 KOs) at Principality Stadium in Cardiff Saturday night. The fight mostly consisted of Parker using a good jab and herky-jerky rhythm with AJ looking to load up but largely unable to get anything significant done.
It was strangely reminiscent of some of Wladimir Klitschko’s title defences where he used his superior physical gifts to cruise to uninspired points victories over smaller men while taking next to no risks.
Joshua was coming forward most of the fight but was only having success with periodic jabs and single power punches at a time. Parker landed some good power shots here and there but they were also largely few and far between.
At the end of the day Parker did well to survive and AJ seemed frustrated at being unable (or unwilling) to pull the trigger and take any risks as he threw next to no combinations in the fight.
Many of the rounds seemed so uneventful it was difficult to score a winner for the stanza but it did seem like AJ was probably ahead after twelve rounds were complete.
When the official scores were read, they were all perplexingly wide for Joshua, coming in at 119-109 and 118-110(x2). The win unified the aforementioned titles for AJ and now put him poised to potentially face WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in a huge unification fight if politics and money don’t get in the way.
Another frustrating element in Saturday’s bout was the suspect officiating. Referee Giuseppe Quartarone, who has little experience in major fights, broke up the fighters prematurely any time some rare instances of action broke out. He also allowed AJ to fight with tape hanging from his glove through many rounds in the fight which seemed to distract both fighters as they wondered if he was going to call time out to address it. All in all an odd night despite the one-sided victory for Joshua on paper.
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