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Joseph Parker: Best I Faced (So Far)

Photo by Lawrence Lustig
10
May

Joseph Parker (27-2, 21 KOs) has been throwing punches since he was a toddler. His father Dempsey, named after a certain heavyweight great you may have heard of, had his son jabbing into his palm at just three years old.

“My Dad welcomed me to boxing at a young age,” Parker told The Ring. “My earliest memories are of me punching his hand. Boxing has always been a dream of mine, I always wanted to be champion of the world.”

Parker’s first amateur fight was at the age of 12. By 16 he was fighting internationally against grown men in their 20s. He would go on to become two-time New Zealand amateur heavyweight champion. In 2010 he won bronze at the Youth World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, losing a close fight with eventual champion Filip Hrgovic in the semifinals.

After turning pro in 2012, Parker won all but 3 of his first 21 bouts by stoppage. He built his resume with dominant victories over notable gatekeepers such as Frans Botha, Brian Minto and Kali Meehan, as well as ranked opponents Carlos Takam and Alexander Dimitrenko. It all culminated in a December 2016 fight against Andy Ruiz Jr for the vacant WBO heavyweight title. After 12 closely contested rounds, Parker won a majority decision to become the first boxing world champion from the Pacific Islands.



During camp for the Ruiz bout, Joseph’s longtime partner Laine Tavita gave birth to their first child, a daughter they named Elizabeth. The couple has since had two more daughters, Shiloh and Michaela. Parker says becoming a family man has made him a better fighter.

“I love my daughters with all my heart,” he said. “Being a father has made me more mature. I can honestly say that in the past I have not done everything right in training camps, I’ve mucked around here and there. As a father now, I have extra motivation. I’m fighting for my daughters now, to set up their future.”

After successful title defenses against Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury in 2017, Parker lost back to back fights in 2018 against current WBA/IBF/WBO title holder Anthony Joshua, and top contender Dillian Whyte. He’s 3-0 (3 KOs) since, looking to get back in the title mix soon and would love to avenge his losses.

“I would love to have a rematch with Dillian Whyte,” he said. “Our fight (in which both men were on the canvas before Whyte won by unanimous decision) was quite entertaining. He was the better man on that day but I still believe in my heart that I can beat him. I would love the opportunity to have a rematch with him.”

Although eager to get back in the ring, Parker says he has enjoyed spending quality time with his family during the global COVID-19 lockdown. He recently spoke with The Ring about the best he has fought so far in 10 key categories.

BEST OVERALL

Anthony Joshua: Leading into our fight, he was very professional. And what he did in the ring, being able to use his jab and his boxing skills to keep me at bay. He uses his height and his reach very well. And I thought his performance in the rematch with Ruiz was great, it was a boxing lesson. He boxed, he moved, he punched without getting hit. I bet some of my family members that AJ was going to win that rematch, they had Ruiz. My family paid up.

Best Boxer

Andy Ruiz: “He has a lot of skill and he showed it in our fight; he was difficult to hit. All that experience he had in the amateurs has really helped him in the pros.”

BEST JAB

Anthony Joshua: With his jab, he was able to keep me at bay in our fight. He boxed a lot better than I thought he would.

BEST DEFENSE

Filip Hrgovic: When I fought him in the amateurs, he used his height and reach very well. We were both 18 years-old when we fought in Azerbaijan. He didn’t move a lot, but he slowly walked me down and tired me down. His defense was quite good.

BEST CHIN

Ruiz: I hit him with a few good shots that had a bit of pop behind them, but he just ate them and kept coming. I think it’s his body type; he is compact and tucks his chin into his neck and comes forward. He rolls with the punches and doesn’t really catch them clean.

BEST PUNCHER

Ruiz: Dillian Whyte did drop me, but with Ruiz, I really felt the sting in his punches. I think it was a left hook he caught me with in our fight that hurt me. From that point on, in the whole fight, I was deaf in one ear.

FASTEST HANDS

Andy Ruiz: It’s the hand speed that makes Andy’s punches so effective.

FASTEST FEET

Anthony Joshua: Moving backward, forward, sideways – he was hard to hit when we fought. He would move back and I would chase him and then the ref would jump in before I could do any work. But I didn’t adapt and change the way I should have; it was a learning experience. If I did have another fight with him, I could show how I’ve improved.

SMARTEST

Anthony Joshua: Our fight was a tactical fight and he did enough to win. He didn’t overdo it and didn’t underdo it, he did just enough.

STRONGEST

Dillan Whyte: He used his body in our fight, I wasn’t expecting that, he roughed me up. He pushed me around and I didn’t counter that as much as I should have.

Michael Montero can be found on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram via @MonteroOnBoxing. His weekly podcast ‘The Neutral Corner’ can be heard on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio and elsewhere.

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