BRITISH fight fans seem unanimous in their belief that Anthony Joshua will become heavyweight champion of the world, and not just a champion but the dominant one.
In New Zealand boxing followers believe Joseph Parker will win a world heavyweight title. They are not quite as convinced of this as are their UK counterparts about Joshua, but they are optimistic and quietly confident.
There are some similarities between the two. Joshua is the taller and heavier, but Parker is no pigmy at six foot four. Both are undefeated and are still works in progress. Joshua has had 13 wins, all inside the distance; Parker 14 with 12 KOs. He will go two more fights than Joshua when he takes on Bowie Tupou on August 1.
The quality of their respective opponents is comparable, though Joshua might have the edge here. What is common to both is that all their opponents have been smaller or older or, usually, both. Neither of them has yet been backed up, or hurt. We will know more about them when they get hit as hard as they have been hitting their victims.
Another similarity is that both men have sparred with the real world champion, Wladimir Klitschko, who was full of praise for both, although rather more positive in his predictions for Joshua.
Parker, Auckland-born of Samoan descent, is from a family of boxing enthusiasts. His father was named Dempsey, after the Manassa Mauler, and his younger brother is a promising amateur. Joseph was a successful, though not dominant, amateur. He won gold at the 2011 Arafura Games, silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Championships, and gold at the China Open, but missed out on hoped-for top medals at the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. He seems to be one of those fighters better suited to professional boxing than to amateur. He is trained by Kevin Barry, who took David Tua to a title tilt at Lennox Lewis.
The best known names on Parker’s resume are Francois Botha, Brian Minto, and Sherman Williams. But arguably his best performance was against Marcelo Luiz Nascimento, whom he stopped in seven. The Brazilian had gone five with Tyson Fury and seven with Manuel Charr.
But Tupou could be his toughest opponent. He is as big, still has ambition, and believes he can win. He can hit too. His stoppage of Manuel Quezada was impressive. However, he may not have the best jaw. His three losses – to Bryant Jennings, Malik Scott and Demetrice King – have all been inside the distance. Nevertheless, the Tonga vs Samoa factor should ensure spite and action.
Three other Australians – Lucas Browne, Alex Leapai and Mark de Mori – would be money-spinning fights if staged in New Zealand but Commonwealth champion Browne has his own path mapped out by the Hattons, de Mori can’t be tempted, and Leapai won’t fight a fellow Samoan. However, Browne will have to defend his title sometime, and if that is held in NZ it could be the biggest fight ever held in this country.
Parker and Joshua are not the only aspirant heavyweights, however. Americans Dominic Breazeale and Gerald Washington are at almost identical stages of their careers. Breazeale is 15-0, Washington 16-0. Both are big and powerful men, but a little older – 29 and 33 respectively, whereas Joshua is 25 and Parker 23.
And don’t forget Hughie Fury, who is still just 20.