Can Joseph Parker reestablish himself as a legitimate threat in the heavyweight division?
The heavyweight division is budding right now with potential big fights down the line. The larger focus is solely on unified champion Anthony Joshua, who’ll be taking on Oleksandr Usyk on September 25. Then there is WBC champion Tyson Fury, who’ll be facing former champion Deontay Wilder for the third time. With such prominent match-ups looming, it’s easy to overlook or simply forget about the other contenders and former belt holders. Case in point, New Zealand fighter and former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (29-2, 21KOs).
Parker has found himself in a tough spot. He will be taking on longtime contender and former world title challenger Dereck Chisora on December 18 in a unnecessary rematch, and needs a good showing. In their initial encounter, Chisora would drop Parker in the first round only to meet defeat by split decision. All while claiming the W, Joseph Parker did not look impressive. Neither did he have anyone clamoring to see him fight, moving forward.
LOCKED IN POSITION
Parker currently rank #3 in the WBO and #5 in the IBF and WBC rankings. He has seemingly regressed significantly since losing his WBO title to Anthony Joshua in 2018. While his resume is solid and he’s only lost twice, his lack of improvement is noticeable. His first fight back after losing his title saw him get dropped multiple times and lose a unanimous decision to Dillian Whyte. Since that point, he’s reeled off five consecutive victories, albeit against subpar competition.
During that five-fight win streak, he took on fellow New Zealander Junior Fa. While he got the win, there’s a strong case to be made that he lost. Sensing he needed a change in his corner, Parker would part ways with longtime trainer Kevin Barry. This move paved the way for him to bring in former world title challenger Andy Lee as his trainer. The two didn’t have a full camp together ahead of the first fight with Chisora. However, things this go around should see more time to properly train and implement a game plan. Furthermore, the time should help the New Zealand fighter improve his overall skill set.
Parker, 29, needs to put together a string of good performances. Especially if he wants to be viewed as a true contender and threat to the top of the heavyweight division again. Blessed with solid punching power, a 6’4 frame and good boxing skills, the physical talent is there. He just needs to put it all together mentally.
With the likes of Joe Joyce, Andy Ruiz, Luis Ortiz, Dillian Whyte and Oleksandr Usyk still in the picture, as well as a talented group of heavyweight prospects like Daniel Dubois, Tony Yoka, Efe Ajagba and Filip Hrgovic, who are quickly making their way from prospect to contender, the time is now.
By: Jerrell Fletcher