In what could be described as a sweet victory from a hard earned bout, Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua on Sunday emerged the clear winner to add the WBO heavyweight belt to his WBA, IBO and IBF titles.
The Nigerian born professional boxer defeated Joseph Parker at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in the heavyweight unification bout with a unanimous points verdict.
Joshua who was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, to Nigerian parents, Yeta, and Robert Joshua added the WBO belt to the WBA and IBF belts he already holds, but he took the distance for the first time in his professional career.
It was his 21st straight career victory, although previously unbeaten New Zealander Parker delivered a battling display without seriously troubling Joshua.
Joshua, almost a stone lighter than when he beat Carlos Takam in Cardiff last October, did enough without setting the fight alight, while Parker had his moments, even if an upset victory never looked on.heer size and power of Joshua was keeping him mostly on the retreat and he was wobbled a little again.
The WBO title holder was keeping himself in the rounds but having difficulty doing enough to win them. He did; however, appear to edge the fifth when he broke past the AJ jab to land a couple of good rights.
Suitably encouraged, Parker went on all-out attack at the start of the sixth and drove Joshua around the ring with a series of rights. When Joshua landed a heavy right himself the Kiwi absorbed the shock, true to his resilient reputation.
Plan B for team Parker, if he could not land an early knockout, was to test Joshua’s allegedly suspect stamina deep into the fight. Joshua was warned by referee Giuseppe Quartarone for throwing a huge right uppercut on the break.
The punch was reminiscent of the one which undid Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley but fortunately it did not have the same effect. Had it done so there might have the risk of a disqualification.
Parker was doing his best to drag Joshua into a brawl. AJ was tempted but held his temper and picked off the opponent with a sizeable left at close quarters. This time Parker staggered but again he took a punch which might have finished many another heavyweight.
We were in the rounds in which Joshua had predicted a knockout victory, but his rhythm was being interrupted by the tape on his glove coming loose. That made for a messier round and Parker may have edged it with a couple of right-hand sorties.
Joshua reasserted himself with three big lefts which reddened Parker’s right eye. But once again he was having trouble putting his man away.
Parker had made real fight of it against size and odds but there was still no sign of the knockout he needed when decisively behind on the score cards. And a couple of late lefts from Joshua took the penultimate round away from him.
There was no sign of Joshua running out of steam. So that question appeared to have been answered. But come the final bell Parker had still never been put down in his career. Joshua went for that scalp in the last but the knock-out was not be and the reception from the crowd was mixed.