Joseph Parker of New Zealand (30-2, 21 KOs) made himself relevant again in the heavyweight division with his best performance in years Saturday in Manchester, England. Parker blasted Derek Chisora of England (32-12, 23 KOs) through 12 hard rounds with three knockdowns to win their rematch in style.
The ringside judges saw a different fight, with scorecards reading far too narrow at 115-110, 115-111, and 114-112 for Parker – making all three knockdowns crucial to the win.
“He was one tough guy, honestly,” said Parker. “He never stopped coming, to the end.” Weighing in at his highest ever at 251 pounds, Parker said he felt much stronger than in his first fight with Chisora.
“It was a brilliant fight,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn. “Derek Chisora is not human. How that fight went 12 rounds, I'll never know. (Parker) needed to box as well as he did to beat Derek Chisora tonight. The career's alive and kicking. It's a brilliant end to 2021.”
Parker offensive effort heavy on uppercuts
Parker knew a loss would be a disaster for him and knew he wouldn't advance his cause much merely by squeaking through the cards as he did in the first fight. Under the guidance of trainer Andy Lee in their second fight together, Parker delivered much more offensive fire, scoring with accurate combinations to head and body. His hooks and right uppercut led the way.
It seemed Parker would cut things short multiple times through the fight. But Chisora made him work hard for the win.
Parker hurt Chisora in the third round, leaving the Brit on wobbly legs. Chisora made it to the bell on sheer muscle memory and a veteran's determination. Parker kept it up, hoping the feverish pace combined with two years of ring rust would be too much for the 37-year-old warhorse Chisora and sent him into the ropes for the first knockdown in round four. Chisora kept taking punches under the watchful eye of referee Howard Foster.
Parker scored two more knockdowns in the seventh and ninth rounds. Chisora wouldn't yield. If he was heading for the end of his career, he was going out in a blaze of glory.
Applause for trainer Andy Lee's approach with Parker in the corner. Lee remained clear, calm, and direct with his instructions throughout the bout. It's proving to be a good match.
“You've been an absolutely fucking warrior. I need you to go to war!” said Chisora's trainer Dave Coldwell before the final round. With Parker well ahead, Lee cautioned the Kiwi to be careful as he knew Chisora had nothing to lose. Chisora's loyal British fans cheered him to the final bell, helping fuel punches with what little Chisora had left.
“We practiced, practiced, practiced the jab/uppercut in the gym,” explained Parker. “What a Christmas present! “I followed the game plan as best I can, but there's still improvements to be made. I just rushed it. I should have sat down on my punches.” Lee said, “He's dedicated himself. I'm so proud of him.”
Parker repeatedly praised the effort put out by Chisora. “I'm telling you, he's a credit to the sport of boxing, very entertaining.” If Chisora makes his exit from boxing, he can hold his head high.
Hearn said Parker is now in a position to challenge the champions down the line after the beltholders sort things out, mentioning a matchup with undefeated Croatian Filip Hrgovic.
Alen Babic survives scare from David Spilmont
Heavyweight prospect Alen “The Savage” Babic of Croatia (10-0, 10 KOs) got a scare from a competitive David Spilmont of France (11-8-1, 7 KOs) before getting his tenth knockout in ten fights in the sixth round. Spilmont had more guts and pop than Babic realized, as the Croatian got rocked in the second and third rounds before he buckled down and took care of business.
Babic took the fight on two weeks' notice in his fourth bout of 2021 and admitted he hadn't shown Spilmont any respect. “You can't overlook any opponent,” said Babic, who says he needs to improve his skills.
Promoter Eddie Hearn agreed Babic isn't ready to tackle his next goal, a bridgerweight division championship fight against Oscar Rivas.
Undercard roundup from Manchester
Last-minute opponents have been lighting up the A-side in the UK all year. Add French super middleweight Kevin Lele Sadjo (17-0, 15 KOs) to the list; Sadjo took out crowd favorite ‘Little Lever's Meat Cleaver' Jack Cullen (20-3-1, 9 KOs) with a thunderbolt left hook to the body, ending the co-main event at 1:11 of round six. Sadjo is now the EBU European Super-Middleweight titleholder.
British super-middleweight talent Lerrone Richards (16-0, 3 KOs) maintained his unbeaten record after a competitive scrap with IBO World Champion Carlos Gongora of Ecuador (20-1, 15 KOs) by a narrow split decision. Scorecards read 115-113 twice for Richards and 1116-112 for Gongora.
Manchester's super featherweight contender Zelfa Barrett (28-1, 16 KOs) handled Bruno Tarimo of Australia (26-3-2, 5 KOs) with ease, scoring a third-round knockdown en route to the unanimous decision. Scores were 117-110 twice and 116-111.
In a pair of cruiserweight contests, David Nyika of New Zealand (2-0, 2 KO) got the win when Anthony Carpin of France (5-7-2, 2 KOs) was forced to retire after one round due to a biceps injury.
Jordan' Troublesome' Thompson of Manchester (12-0, 10 KOs) dished out a first-round KO of Piotr Budziszewski of Poland (4-1, 2 KOs).
Super-Lightweight prospect Sandy Ryan (3-0, 1 KO) got the expected win against Maria Soledad Caprialo of Argentina (7-14-4).
Anthony Crolla-trained lightweight Rhiannon Dixon (4-0; pictured above) of Lancashire won her fourth pro bout over a wildly outgunned Vaida Masiokaite (2-13-4) of Lithuania, a last-minute opponent with no business being there.