“AUCKLAND is going back in lockdown at 6am tomorrow morning … but hey, we’re going to have these fights” is a unique catchphrase for a ring announcer, but it meant Joseph Parker and Junior Fa had just enough time to complete their all-New Zealand heavyweight grudge match at the Spark Arena on Saturday.
The two have history. They had boxed as amateurs and Fa in fact eliminated Parker from their regional 2012 Olympic qualification event. But Parker, who went the distance with Anthony Joshua, beat Andy Ruiz and previously held a world title, has been far more successful as a pro. He came through this test with a points decision, even if the scoring seemed too wide after a close fight.
Parker might have been more aggressive but he was often clumsy and his accuracy deserted him. Fa picked out some clean, hurtful shots. He clipped Parker with a left hook in the first round and throughout the contest used feints set up a meaty right cross. Fa hurt Parker at times but picked up a cut by his left eye himself and looked to hold when Parker bored in close slinging overarm punches.
After 12 rounds the judges scored 119-109, 117-111 and 115-113 all for Joseph Parker.
Parker reflected, “It was a lot closer than we expected and he put on a great, great performance.”
Fa took the result in good grace. “This is great for my confidence and it’s an honour to be in there with a world ranked heavyweight,” he said.
Parker wins a WBO Oriental heavyweight title but this result sets him up for a return to the UK and a possible fight with Dereck Chisora later this year.
On the undercard David Nyika, star of the New Zealand amateur team and two-weight Commonwealth Games gold medallist, made his professional debut. It proved deeply underwhelming though through no fault of Nyika’s. He ripped right hooks into Jesse Maio’s body and then sent the right hook to the head. Maio was pitching forward as it came and so the shot scraped round the back of his head. The “Maniac” sprawled down to the canvas, where he stayed, complaining about the punch as the referee counted him out after 29 seconds.