Sunday 22 May 2016

Joseph Parker Is The Mandatory Challenger For Anthony Joshua

Joseph Parker is now the mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua after out-pointing Carlos Takam in New Zealand on Saturday. The undefeated heavyweight is now next in line to fight for the IBF world heavyweight title, digging in for 12 tough rounds to take a unanimous decision.

Joshua is expected to see off Dominic Breazeale live on Sky Sports Box Office on June 25, but now we know if he does, Parker is likely to be next up. The 24-year-old was expected to show his explosive talent but with the experienced Takam posing plenty of problems, he at least showed the heart and bravery to take it, 116-112, 116-112, 115-113, on the scorecards.

Parker said “I'm very excited. I'd like to thank God for this victory, we've trained very hard and Takam came hard, strong and prepared. We did this for myself, my team and the supporters. What a great fighter Carlos Takam is. We said this was going to be a hard fight. I had to have my A-game. I'd like to thank my coach for giving me instructions when I made mistakes. That was a tough, exciting fight. I still have a lot to learn. We'll celebrate this victory and then get back to the gym and train”.

Parker was an emotional and exhausted winner after starting off on top, seemingly struggling through the middle rounds yet finding an extra gear down the stretch to suggest he now belongs at world level. With New Zealand behind him, he made a cautious start and was caught by a couple of left hooks, suggesting his defence is not the best. But in the second and third rounds, it was clear that offensively he is a genuine threat. Parker held his left hand low all night but when he fired it in, it proved to be his sharpest and hardest shot. It helped him ease into the fight, looking comfortable and in control, but on the odd occasion he moved into Takam's range, he was caught by a counter right that not only suggested there are plenty of improvements to be made but that the France-based Cameroon fighter was still in contention. In fact, the veteran, who had been in with the likes of Mike Perez, Tony Thompson and Alexander Povetkin, was able to force his way back in around six and seven on the front foot, with Parker struggling to keep his own pace going.

The momentum shifted from round to round but the home fighter had the edge before a brutal eighth round when they both seemed to put it all on the line. Parker landed numerous shots as they both traded at will, yet somehow they both made it to the bell still standing. Despite Takam's counter right and Parker's left hook and short right landing, the shots did not look like bringing the fight to an early end. Strangely, it was the younger man Parker who struggled on the back of that brawling session but as Takam - for once - went on the offensive, the first time since the early rounds, the Kiwi's crisp jab kept him at bay.

That seemed to stop Takam in his tracks and in rounds 10 and 11, Parker at last seemed to enjoy it - a lovely combination sending a warning all the way back to Great Britain. A knockout win would have rung louder around the heavyweight world, but once the scores were read out after a typically ferocious final round, New Zealand had their own world-title challenger and Parker now has plenty to look forward to.

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