Joshua vs. Parker—Please, Make Us Care Again

By Marc Livitz on March 31, 2018
Joshua vs. Parker—Please, Make Us Care Again
Joshua isn’t always going to remove his competition from their respective consciousness.

The bout is set to take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, and the telecast on the Showtime network begins at 5PM EST…

In recent years, if not the bulk of the last decade and a half, the heavyweight division hasn’t exactly enthralled boxing fans.

The downside is more than clear for boxing fans on American shores, which is once again seeing the universally recognized top heavyweight fighter in the world mow down yet another twin-gloved stationary target. Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KO’s) physically looks like a boxer from yesteryear and these days, it’s quite rare to see an individual treat the once heralded division as a round-the-clock vocation. Of course, big muscles don’t always translate into either victories or the ability to administer hard, difference making punches.

The upside? Even on the east coast of the United States, the heavyweight championship clash between Englishman Joshua and New Zealand native Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KO’s) should be over by six in the evening, which would leave ample time to plan a fun evening, with or without the semifinals of the Final Four. The bout is set to take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, and the telecast on the Showtime network begins at 5PM EST.

In recent years, if not the bulk of the last decade and a half, the heavyweight division hasn’t exactly enthralled boxing fans. The fully earned, yet not fully entertaining monopoly over the class of the big men held almost exclusively by the brothers Klitschko left many of us becoming all too familiar with the “line ‘em up, knock ‘em down” formula. To be fair, we saw much of the same in previous years with Mike Tyson, yet his personality and unpredictable nature did more to draw us to the television and even closer to the ‘buy’ button.

Eventually, Vitali Klitschko felt the call of government in his native Ukraine and retired in 2013. Younger brother Wladimir was retired, more or less by Anthony Joshua last year in London. Since “AJ” captured two more heavyweight championship belts with his late knockout win over Klitschko to go along with his IBF sanctioned title, he’s fought once. He found another slow moving target in Frenchman Carlos Takam, who himself took the bout on less than two weeks’ notice after mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev was sidelined by an injury.

The contest last October showed us that Joshua isn’t always going to remove his competition from their respective consciousness, as Takam took a beating before finally being rescued by referee Phil Edwards midway through the tenth round. Takam landed more than a few shots, yet he never did enough to change the pace of the contest.

Here’s to hoping that Joseph Parker can do just that. Although he’s just a bit shorter at 6’4” than the 2012 Olympic gold medalist he’s facing, he unfortunately gives up six inches in reach. Of course, we can all break down the fight in our own way, yet most are predicting another ‘walk along the Thames’ type of contest for Anthony. Should he get the win (as a -700 favorite), then he’ll have all of the championship titles in his possession, save for the WBC belt currently held by Deontay Wilder.

If there is perhaps one thing Anthony Joshua has shown in some of his contests, it is that it could possibly be that he hasn’t had to fight very often off of his back foot. Maybe if Joseph Parker can utilize his fast hands, make “AJ” really and truly work and push the tempo, then he has a chance to make it past round four. Sixteen of Joshua’s twenty professional opponents can’t say that. Granted, a quick examination of Parker’s boxing résumé won’t exactly “wow” even the most ardent fan of the sport.

The world wants to see Joshua throw down with Deontay Wilder at some point in the near future. Signs seem to point to that as a possibility once the odd man out in Parker is basically out of the way. He is the odd man out. Like it or hate it. The same can be said of current WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. He’s a legitimate champion, yet not many hold him in the same light as Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Fair? Maybe yes or maybe no. The way it is? A resounding “yes.”

Unless Joseph Parker can do the unthinkable, as in land a “Hail Queen Mary” shot for the ages and essentially put Anthony Joshua to sleep, then he has no chance winning a decision in the United Kingdom. We already know this. However, hopefully the contest is interesting enough to make us care about the heavyweight division once again. Anthony Joshua’s reign as the king of the class means next to nothing is there’s no competition put in front of him. This wouldn’t always be his fault, though.

Just as we saw with the Klitschko brothers, they eagerly fought whoever was put into the ring with them and their dedication to the sport is what often helped put them so far above the adversaries they faced. If Parker can somehow put a large enough dent into the armor of Joshua, then the thought of a “A.J. versus Bronze Bomber” extravaganza later this year becomes even more appealing.

We’ll just have to wait and see. Good luck to both men. Please, make us care again.

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