JOSEPH PARKER will once again risk his lofty world rankings and title contention ambitions this weekend (October 1) when he fights man mountain Alexander Dimitrenko at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau City, New Zealand.
Parker became mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s IBF world title in May when he outpointed Carlos Takam in a final eliminator. Two months after that, he stopped an ageing Solomon Haumono inside four rounds to keep himself typically active.
On Saturday, he will test himself once more when he faces former European heavyweight champion Dimitrenko who, at 6ft 7ins, has been selected as preparation for when Parker is let loose on the giants who currently rule the division.
With the IBF having given Joshua an impending deadline to defend his title against the unbeaten New Zealander, Parker became the front-runner to face ‘AJ’ in Manchester on November 26. However that all changed when it was announced Tyson Fury is ‘medically unfit’ to defend his WBA and WBO world titles against Wladimir Klitschko in their rematch on October 29.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, immediately set about trying to secure a fight between Joshua and Klitschko, which could still potentially land on November 26. As such a huge fight cannot be rushed, Parker is still very much in the running, leading to some speculating that the Dimitrenko fight may be scrapped so he can focus on fighting Joshua in November.
However the show, promoted by Duco Events, will go on and has been picked up by Sky Sports, who will broadcast in the UK in a bid to give Parker more exposure to the British audience ahead of his mandated fight with the Olympic champion.
Unlike Haumono, Dimitrenko is a threat to Parker’s progression. His size alone makes him dangerous, though it is a smart move from Parker’s team to draft in someone of his stature as Joseph will need to battle men much bigger than him if he wants to win world honours.
The Germany-based Russian was a promising amateur and turned over fairly young, making good progression in his adopted country. There were no standout wins but there was a bit of buzz in European around him. That changed in 2009 when he was exposed by Eddie Chambers, who dropped him twice en route to winning a decision.
Chambers showed that Dimitrenko can be outboxed and that he has real problems with opponents who are fast and can move well – Parker has both those attributes. Dimitrenko went on to win the European title before suffering his second professional loss; an 11th-round stoppage at the hands of Kubrat Puelv, who was in control for the whole fight.
Dimitrenko has notched six wins since that 2012, though took two years about from 2013 to 2015 in that period. None of his opponents since the Pulev loss have been anywhere near a decent level.
Conversely, Parker’s whole career to date – 20 straight wins with 17 stoppages – has taken place since Dimitrenko lost to Pulev. He is an admirably active fighter, even now that he is ranked No 1 in the world by the WBO and IBF.
Outside of his win over Takam, the 24-year-old has not really moved the needle outside of his native country as the majority of his opponents have been big underdogs.
Though he certainly carries a dig, Parker’s best attribute is arguably his speed. He likes to put his punches together and can be imposing on the front foot – though this does leave him open to anything thrown in response.
In his fight with Takam there were spells of real trouble for him although he did come through to earn the decision. Dimitrenko likes to fight at a relatively slow pace and if Parker can use decent head movement to nullify the Russian’s jab, he should have things his own way. Parker could potentially force a stoppage late on, though he’s more likely to take a decision after 12 rounds.