Anthony Joshua defeated Joseph Parker in their much-anticipated heavyweight fight on Saturday night in Cardiff to unify the IBF, WBA ’Super’ and WBO heavyweight belts.
Joshua earned a unanimous points decision to stay unbeaten (21 wins, 20 KOs) after he had been taken the distance for the first time in his career by the gritty Kiwi Parker.
The judges scored it 118-110, 118-110, 119-109 in Joshua’s favour, but the fight will mostly be remembered for an overly fussy referee who refused to let the fighters battle it out up close.
The fight started slowly with Joshua relying on his jab to keep Parker at bay and the New Zealander keeping his defence tight.
The Brit continued with the same tactic throughout rounds two and three, Parker defending well and Joshua doing lots of good work but making little headway.
Parker then seemed to step up his effort in round five, landing a good combination as the New Zealander increased his workrate, catching Joshua with some decent left hands.
The sixth round saw Parker come out swinging and catch Joshua with a big right, but just as it looked he would back it up referee Guiseppe Quartarone stepped in to separate the fighters, much to the the disappointment of Parker’s corner.
The Kiwi then started to look the better fighter, landing some good right hands to the body, while the referee continued to frustrate the crowd by getting in the way every time they got close.
The first man to take Anthony Joshua the distance…
— bet365 (@bet365) March 31, 2018
Parker enjoyed a good spell at the beginning of round eight, but Joshua then tagged him with a right uppercut as the Brit attempted to interrupt his flow.
The referee continued to take centre stage in round nine, as Joshua was forced to take a time out when the tape came loose on one of his gloves, Parker doing the better work as the fight entered the final stretch.
The tenth round saw Parker suffer a cut from an accidental Joshua elbow. The Brit landing some shots, but his opponent continuing to frustrate and find the target with some digs to the body.
Round 11 came and went, both fighters seemingly uninterested in going for broke. Joshua improving from the previous few rounds, but suffering a scare late on when Parker tagged him with a big right.
The final round was as anti-climactic as the whole fight, neither fighter making an impact as the referee once again got involved as Joshua was taken the distance for the first time in his career. The Brit earning a unanimous decision in what was a tight, but ultimately disappointing fight.
Joshua will now look to take on American Deontay Wilder as he attempts to become the undisputed champion.