If you are a fan of buildups which include nasty back and forths, vicious talk of impending mayhem and destruction, snappy and savage quips which only barely hide true blue malevolence—then this countdown to the Saturday faceoff in Cardiff, Wales between Anthony Joshua, the English golden boy of boxing, ultra-polite, easy-going and edge-free, and underdog Joseph Parker wasn’t for you.
The Brit and the Kiwi gave a staredown to each other…
…after hitting the scales which featured requisite hard faces, but this has been a tame build up, to a fight that isn’t conjuring the highest of expectations among the mass of boxing followers. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t over-deliver in the action department…
Much of the lack of massive enthusiasm is laid at the feet of Parker, who three years ago was seen as an up n comer whose ceiling was high, and someone who could well be a heavyweight division building block for a decade. Well, he’s risen, to a point where he’s won a belt and defended it twice…but he’s bowled over really no one in that time.
He got the WBO strap when he beat Andy Ruiz in a middling affair. A defense against Razvan Cojanu will not be remembered as a classic, or even barely remembered at all. And his win over Hugie Fury was a yawn inducer. On the brighter side, he came to the scale at 236.5, ten pounds lighter than against Ruiz, a possible indictaion that he’s stepped up the training and the mental intensity, understanding the stakes at hand here. This may be the best of Parker we shall see, and thus, his punchers’ chance has to be upped a half tick.
He holds a 24-0 record, at age 26, and owns 18 KOs. His power is average for a heavyweight, and he doesn’t do any one thing so spectacularly so as to bowl you over. But…and this is a pretty big BUT…he does simply win. He hasn’t yet lost, so perhaps his POV will reflect a helpful confidence that could make the fight better than underwhelmed boxing fans are feeling it will play out to be.
AJ, at age 28, should be at his athletic prime, though we believe that his best days are ahead of him, because he’s still learning on the job, about pacing, about how to best prepare for this sort of foe and that. As for prep—he was 242.5 on Friday in front of maybe 4,000 at the weigh-in, which likely bodes well, because his hand speed and ability to get advantageous angles could only be helped by being almost 12 pounds lighter than he was when he downed Carlos Takam in October.
At 20-0, with 20 KOs, we’d bet the house that he will not taste his first L in Cardiff, that it will take the the likes of someone with better hand speed to buzz him and burst the balloon. The favorite said he’s been steering clear of desserts, and “I’ll be a lot sharper and my reactions and my timing will be a lot better,” he said after stepping off the scale. AJ is simply likeable, he’s unflappable, he’s ultra smooth in taking queries, he’s totally respectful of his foe. I won’t say he’s boring, because nice guys shouldn’t be diminished, the world needs more of them. But shit stirring isn’t way. And that’s OK. Parker after the scale session that “I’m here for a good fight, I’m here for a war.” He’s soft spoken and no, he’s not dripping with the promise of an in-ring savagery matching his promises to engage in extreme violence.
All those wins and kayoes between them, you’d maybe think the hype level would be higher. But nah, these are it looks and feels like, two good dudes, two guys not possessing some of those X-factor traits which bring such a scrap to another level. Or even obvious traits–like being potent self promoters, or trash-talking experts–which typically serve to heighten anticipation and tension.
But we always enjoy it when a fight over-performs..and when nice guys prove that you can be chill in the lead up, not be provocative and snarly, and then act like a proper savage come first bell. Here’s hoping we see that Saturday.
Showtime will be the US viewing platform. The fight will be televised LIVE on SHOWTIME at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT from Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.