Former WBO World Heavyweight champion Joseph Parker of New Zealand returns to the ring to prove he's still worthy of a top-ten ranking in the heavyweight division Saturday. He faces Simon Kean of Canada on the undercard of Saturday's Fury vs Ngannou card.
Parker (32-3, 22 KOs) believes at age 31, he's still a player in the division and intends to prove it with an impressive performance against Kean (23-1, 22 KOs).
At Friday's weigh-in for Parker vs Kean in Riyadh, Parker weighed in at 250.1 pounds and Kean at 255.1 pounds. Parker stands 6-foot-4, and Kean an inch taller. Kean also has a one-inch reach advantage, 77 inches to 76 inches, essentially a wash. Both men are orthodox fighters.
“Even if I were fighting Tyson Fury, I don’t think there’s any more that we could have done in camp,” said Parker. “We’ve trained very hard for Simon Kean. And we respect him as a fighter. We know that he’s got a lot of knockouts, so we’ve done everything in our power to be as prepared as we can be for this challenge.”
Parker says he intended to follow trainer Andy Lee's plan, which is as straightforward as it gets: to “punch his face.”
Kean acknowledges the fight is a big challenge. “This week, Joseph said he wants to knock me out. Of course, he wants to knock me out, and I want to knock him out, too. That’s boxing. I know I have a big challenge and that I will need a great performance to get the win, but I had a really great training camp, and I’m ready to shock the world.”
Parker: Top Ten Status At Risk
Parker took a tough loss one year ago against Joe Joyce. Joyce punished Parker for 11 hard rounds before the fight was stopped. He's since gotten back into the win column, with his most recent win a sharp first-round knockout of Faiga Opula on a card in Melbourne, Australia not seen in the U.S. Catch up here.
Parker might be more familiar to American fans as they've watched his work alongside his good friend Tyson Fury as a key sparring partner. But Parker has been relatively active, or what passes for it in modern boxing. He's averaged one bout every six months in the last two and a half years.
Parker goes into the fight ranked number 10 by the WBC, sixth by the WBO, sixth by the IBF, and fifth by the RING at heavyweight.
Kean: Big Step Up Against Parker
American fans can be forgiven if they don't know much about Kean. The 34-year-old Quebec native has never fought outside Canada. He isn't ranked in the top 20 (or 30). His opposition has been limited.
The best win on his record may be his March seventh-round TKO against American journeyman Eric Molina. See Kean in action against Molina here.
It's a massive step up for Kean, who deserves credit for taking the fight and will undoubtedly be paid well for it. He is not currently ranked by any of the sanctioning organizations.
PREDICTION: Kean has power, and Parker cannot throw caution to the wind in this fight lest he be caught with heavy hands by Kean. But most of Kean's wins aren't one-hitter quitters. Just five of his stoppage wins were by knockout. Most were TKO wins. Kean has also been knocked out, and he has been dropped in fights.
Kean lacks the experience of Parker, a former champion who has appeared in multiple main events on big stages. He has fought 223 rounds to just 91 for Kean. On a card with such high visibility, Kean has the added pressure of meeting the moment.
Parker is motivated, and he will have his stablemate and biggest supporter, The Gypsy King, cheering him on. Count on Parker to get the win and look for bigger opportunities in 2024.
Parker vs Kean: Time and Place
- Saturday, October 28
- Start time: 1 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. UK
- Parker vs. Kean ring walks (approx): 3:35 p.m. ET / 8:35 p.m. UK
The ESPN+ PPV broadcast will begin at 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT, which is an hour later than in the UK.