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That’s all for now. Do check back later for a full ringside report.
What’s next? Joshua’s final words for Wilder don’t leave much to the imagination: “Get him in the ring and I’ll knock him spark out.”
Joshua improves to 21-0 on the night his knockout streak ends at 20. But does he want to fight Deontay Wilder for the lone heavyweight title belt that’s not in his possession?
“Whenever, wherever,” Joshua says. “Wilder, let’s go baby! Let’s go!”
The British champion also discusses his performance against Parker.
“My strategy in there was stick behind the jab, it’s one of the most important weapons,” he says. “The old saying is the right hand will take you around the block, but the jab will take you around the world.”
Anthony Joshua wins by unanimous decision!
The official cards of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 were wider than the Guardian’s unofficial score of 115-113, but Joshua is the winner. The 28-year-old now holds three of the four heavyweight title belts.
Another low-activity round until the final minute where Joshua lands a right and follows it up with a left. Now finally he seems interested in closing the show but there’s that referee again breaking the fighters up. Parker lands another short right uppercut to the body, then another. There’s the final bell. Joshua should come out on top in the scorecards after being extended the full distance for the first time in his career, but it feels like tonight’s big winner is Deontay Wilder.
Unofficial score: Joshua 10-9 Parker (Joshua 115-113 Parker)
Neither fighter appears interested in taking chances, which is too bad for Parker as there’s little chance he will get a decision winning a stinker like this. (Nor should he.) Joshua takes the round on activity, although a big right hand by Parker near the end of the stanza made it close.
Unofficial score: Joshua 10-9 Parker (Joshua 105-104 Parker)
Parker cut above his left eye early in the round. Parker continues to dig and barrels inside to land a few punches, but Joshua looks to the referee. Joshua tries a counter uppercut under a Parker jab and just misses. Enough from Joshua there to win the round, but he’s been outboxed in this fight while Parker has impressed with his unpredictable, herky-jerky defense. A replay indicates the cut was caused by a flailing Joshua elbow. We’re all level on our unofficial card with two rounds to go.
Unofficial score: Joshua 10-9 Parker (Joshua 95-95 Parker)
Wow. A tough round to judge in a fight replete with them. We’ll tip it to Parker but so few punches connected, thanks in part to the overzealous referee. One of the most poorly refereed big fights we’ve ever seen. At one point Joshua appeared to call his own timeout and walked back to his corner to have a piece of stray tape fixed. Never really seen anything like this, especially on this stage.
Unofficial score: Joshua 9-10 Parker (Joshua 85-86 Parker)
A nice short left hook by Joshua, who’s been strugging to put his punches together. It’s the best punch of another mostly dull round. Joshua then clips Parker is clipped with a right uppercut and the referee Quartarone continues to step in when he’s not needed. This is only Quartarone’s fourth title fight, for the record, and it looks like it. Not sure how he drew this detail. Joshua nicks the round and there may be openings for a big counter forthcoming the way the emboldened Parker appears to be overextending himself.
Unofficial score: Joshua 10-9 Parker (Joshua 76-76 Parker)
Let’s call it what it is: a flat performance by Anthony Joshua. He may still escape it yet, but he’s struggling to put punches together while Parker is doing just enough to nick these rounds with right hands to the body. The referee Giuseppe Quartarone is clearly out of his depth and he’s only served to make an already bad fight even more dreadful.
Unofficial score: Joshua 9-10 Parker (Joshua 66-67 Parker)
Oh boy! Parker comes out swinging and he’s hurt Joshua early in the sixth with a right hand! It’s broken up by the referee and time is called … but why? Let them fight! Seems like the third man has given Joshua extra time to recover for no reason. Joshua comes back with a short sharp counter right. Too bad the referee seems hell-belt on reprimanding the fighters for fighting. Another one for Parker and we’re even at the midway point. Parker doing a great job making up for his physical shortcomings with unpredictable movement.
Unofficial score: Joshua 9-10 Parker (Joshua 57-57 Parker)
Joshua doing a sound job of leveraging his size and distance. Parker getting more desperate as Joshua contines to peck away with the jab, but Parker connects with a one-two combination and gets out of the way of the return with about a minute left: surely his best combination of the fight. Parker was finally compelled to take some risks and they paid off for him. His best round of the fight.
Unofficial score: Joshua 9-10 Parker (Joshua 48-47 Parker)
Joshua is continuing to back Parker up with jabs to the head and body, precluding Parker from mounting anything even resembling a sustained attack. It’s tactically sound as Parker already seems to be getting frustrated (and tiring while he’s at it). Parker looking more and more hesitant as Joshua is throwing and landing jabs with more authority. No massive shots from either guy after four rounds but advantage squarely to Joshua.
Unofficial score: Joshua 10-9 Parker (Joshua 39-37 Parker)
Parker misses with a big right but Joshua lands a short right uppercut on the inside. Parker no doubt felt that. Joshua hardly even pressing yet but you get the sense that Parker will need to do something to get Joshua’s attention and respect. Joshua now snapping that left jab. The referee breaks up the fighters to warn about head clashes. An easy round for Joshua, who’s landed 28 of 90 punches (31%) so far according to CompuBox, compared to 25 of 135 (19%) for Parker. Joshua landing the harder shots, too.
Unofficial score: Joshua 10-9 Parker (Joshua 29-28 Parker)
More pawing and probing from both men early in the second. Parker continues with the double jab, keeping the stalking Joshua at bay. A sharp counter right by Joshua to the body with about 45 seconds left in the round, but Parker comes back with an overhand right. Amazing how low Parker is keeping his left hand, almost daring Joshua to make him pay for it. Another measured and composed round from Joshua, but this time he landed enough punches to take it.
Unofficial score: Joshua 10-9 Parker (Joshua 19-19 Parker)
We’re under way in Cardiff. Parker starts pawing with the left jab, one after another as he circles back to the left. Parker is throwing more punches early on, but not putting much into them, perhaps looking to set Joshua up for a counter. Joshua is closing in and throwing a few more jabs himself. Joshua doing a great job of cutting off the ring and trapping Parker but he’s not punished him for it yet. Joshua throws a few shots to the body, but he’s mainly spent the first round studying his opponent. Parker threw and landed more punches in the round, surely enough to win it.
Unofficial score: Joshua 9-10 Parker (Joshua 9-10 Parker)
God Save the Queen is performed. Michael Buffer is announcing the fighters. The atmosphere in the stadium is positively electric. We are just moments away.
And the boos for Parker quickly turn to rapturous cheers as Michael Buffer announces Anthony Joshua. The WBA and IBF champion emerges from the tunnel as Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust kicks off a medley of songs. These ring entrances really, drawn out for maximum dramatic effect and peppered with pyrotechnics throughout, really are something.
And here comes Joseph Parker. The WBO champion is flanked by a pair of shirtless New Zealand flag bearers as he approaches the ring while Roy Jones Jr’s Can’t Be Touched plays at an ear-splitting volume on the stadium sound system.
The sounds of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline are cascading down from the upper bowl at the Principality Stadium. That means the ringwalks can’t be far off.
The other ingredient in the mix is Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC’s version of the heavyweight title. The American knockout artist made his seventh defense of that strap earlier this month in Brooklyn, surviving the scariest moments of his professional career to score a 10th-round knockout of Luis Ortiz. A unification bout between tonight’s winner could theoretically unify all four major title belts.
Wilder was initially supposed to be in the building as a part of Showtime’s commentary team, but wound up declining the invitation.
A few bits of history in the making tonight. This is the first two current heavyweight champions have fought against one another on British soil. It’s also only the second time two undefeated heavyweight title-holders have faced off after the 1987 scrap between Mike Tyson (who held the WBA and WBC belts) and Tony Tucker (the IBF champion) at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Parker isn’t the only one carrying less weight tonight. Joshua, at 242¼lbs, is more than 10lbs lighter than he was for October’s stoppage of Carlos Takam – and lighter than he’s been for any fight since 2014.
Hello and welcome to tonight’s world heavyweight championship unification fight between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium. The stadium is packed once more for Joshua, who defended his titles successfully against Carlos Takam here five months ago.
Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), who holds the IBF and WBA title, came in at 242¼lbs at yesterday’s weigh-in while Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), who holds the WBO strap, tipped the scales at 236½ – 10 pounds lighter than all three of his world championship bouts.
Culled from the Gaurdian