Joseph Parker looks extremely unimpressive in controversial win over Junior Fa!
Former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (28-2, 21KO) is desperately seeking a rise back to world title contention. After losing his title to current unified champ Anthony Joshua then immediately dropping a decision to top contender Dillian Whyte in 2018, he has somewhat fallen from grace. He has won three-straight since but against subpar competition. Now only ranked outside the top ten by the WBA, he crosses paths with an amateur rival and fellow New Zealand native Junior Fa (19-1, 10KO).
Fa is considered a rising contender but is also ranked in the top ten by the IBF and WBO. He fought outside of his native land six times and picked up a win against a familiar name in a very old version of heavyweight contender Dominick Guinn in June 2019. Other than that, he completely lost out in the experience factor as Parker has shared the ring with many top heavyweights.
However, the two have history. Four fights between them in the amateurs ended in two wins a piece with Fa winning the last meeting. The win ultimately kept Parker from going to the 2012 London Olympics. Although the professional ranks are different, the knowledge gained when facing a fighter in the amateurs is essential.
This fight proved when two fighters have history, pro experience may not be a factor!
A FAMILIAR FOE
Fa started the fight dictating the pace behind his one-inch height and four-inch reach advantage. He displayed surprisingly agile footwork to stay on the outside and pepper Parker with the jab. The former champion was a bit slow out of the gates, trying to find his range and get around the jab.
However by the second round, Parker found his rhythm. While Fa did well setting up a stinging straight right hand to the mid-section to stop his opponent from trying to get inside, Parker did an excellent job of cutting off the ring. In the process, he would anticipate the jab using his quick reflexes then return fire with his own jab. If he landed, he used the window of opportunity to step inside and follow up with an overhand right. This routinely led to Fa taking the big shot before tying up as he has absolutely no ability to fight on the inside.
However, this did not deter Fa. Instead of trying to fight fire with fuel on the inside, (a mistake former IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington made in his recent loss to Mauricio Lara) he focused more on keeping the former champion at a distance. In addition, he started leading with the straight right more as his opponent jumped in. He also incorporated the check hook as he moved around incoming jabs.
By the middle rounds, the ring generalship the underdog displayed in the first round was in full force! Fa controlled the fight from the outside and consistently frustrated the former champion. Parker may have taken the earlier rounds, but now looked to be forcing the issue possibly due to fatigue. Meanwhile, Fa was extremely comfortable on the outside setting up the straight right hand with ease. At times if Parker got too close, he would throw hooks and use angles to turn his opponent. There were several moments where Parker took several shots then ended up with is back to Fa!
The negative takeaway for Fa as he took control was the holding. As mentioned above, he cannot fight on the inside to save his life. Therefore to compensate for the flaw, he continuously held if he couldn’t get the angle on Parker as he jumped in. The holding was so excessive that many referees would have taken one, maybe two points from Fa in this bout!
While the success of Parker’s overhand right was illustrated by the cut formed on the left eye of the underdog, Fa looked to have executed his game-plan more successfully. It wasn’t always pretty and he did give up some rounds early. However, he looked to be on his way to upsetting the former champion.
Until the last quarter of the fight!
CONTORVERSY ON THE HORIZON
By the tenth round, the former champion still looked desperate. Fa wasn’t moving as swiftly as he was before and Parker was chasing him with the right hand cocked! The problem for the underdog was he never figured out a way to defend the punch all night. While they came one at a time, Fa still took damage from that shot round after round. Therefore, with fatigue setting in and his opponent winging the shot wildly hoping to get a knockout, Fa went from a fighter in complete control to one trying to survive!
In the twelfth round, the former champion was a man possessed. Meanwhile, Fa was a man looking to hold on. That is exactly all he did. The fight was extremely close and it seemed to be up for grabs. With Fa doing nothing to take the last round, controversy was sure to follow. Remember, Parker is a former champion and beloved in New Zealand. Therefore, this bout was equivalent to fighting a champion in a hostile environment. In those situations, the underdog cannot leave any doubt in the minds of the judges.
In the end, only one judge saw the fight as close as it was. That judge had a score of 115-113 for Parker. Meanwhile, the other two judges were drinking on the job. Those scorecards read 117-111 and 119-109 for the former champion.
3kingsboxing.com scored this fight a draw as Parker took the final round to make it even. Although we saw it this way, if a winner had to be picked, it would be Fa.
The takeaway here is when you are the underdog, you must unequivocally defeat the more popular fighter. Fa did an excellent job out-boxing Parker for the majority of the fight but the amount of overhand rights he took coupled by the excessive holding may have did him in with the judges.
By: EJ Williams