When a Boxing enthusiast comes across someone who may not be a fan of the sport known as “The Sweet Science”, who might even be critical in their dislike one reason that the non-fan might use is that it can be confusing at times to distinguish which fighters are world champions from those who are contenders among other reasons as to why they don’t share an interest in Boxing. While the subject of those who criticize the sport for its flaws certainly can cover a wide spectrum of topics, the subject of distinguishing champions from contenders is one that does indeed cause confusion for those who consider themselves casual fans of Boxing.
It is after all understandable how one could become confused in an era where there are five major sanctioning organizations that regulate and sanction world championship fights throughout Professional Boxing’s seventeen weight divisions. The process can become even more complicated when one considers the various political elements that surround the sport, which in regard to champions and contenders can at times blur the lines with world champions, contenders, those fighters who are designated as “Interim/Regular” champion in an organization’s ratings in a weight class, and those entities that choose to recognize some world champions, but not others either due to a vested interest that is unknown to the general public or other unknown reasons and so on.
There are the exceptions in the sport however, where an effort is made to not only clear up confusion, but one could argue as this observer often has over the years, that will serve the long-term best interest of the sport. The instance where a “Unification Bout” takes place. A fight where two world champions put their respective crowns on the line to further establish themselves as a fighter who should be considered as the world champion of a division. An even rarer instance is when such “Unification Bouts” ultimately lead to one “Undisputed World Champion” eventually being crowned.
The process of establishing an “Undisputed World Champion” is certainly one that can take a significant amount of time to accomplish for a variety of reasons. When significant progress is made toward determining an “Undisputed Champion” in a weight class there is cause for cautious optimism. One such weight class where such a process has been gradually taking place is in the Heavyweight division. The next step in that process will come on Saturday night at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales as undefeated world champions Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker put their respective portions of the World Heavyweight championship on the line to take one step further toward Heavyweight supremacy.
Joshua, the current unified IBF/WBA/IBO Heavyweight world champion has established himself as one of the division’s feared “Knockout Artists” having scored knockouts in all twenty of his professional fights. Since becoming a world champion in April 2016 by knocking out previously undefeated IBF Heavyweight world champion Charles Martin. After a successful title defense over previously unbeaten top contender Dominic Breazeale, Joshua took part in arguably one of the more entertaining Heavyweight bouts in recent memory when he successfully unified his IBF crown with the vacant WBA and IBO world championship by scoring a thrilling eleventh round stoppage of former longtime Heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko in April of last year.
In his last fight, Joshua dealt with a stern test in the form of top contender Carlos Takam in a fight where Joshua fought fatigue as well as a “Game” opponent to stop Takam in ten rounds in a bout where the champion also suffered a broken nose. After twenty straight victories, the twenty-eight year old native of Watford, England now prepares for yet another career-defining fight in the form of fellow undefeated world champion Joseph Parker.
Parker, a native of Auckland, New Zealand won the vacant WBO Heavyweight world championship in December 2016 with a close twelve round majority decision over previously unbeaten top contender Andy Ruiz in Parker’s native Auckland, New Zealand to become the first New Zealander to win a World Heavyweight championship in Boxing history. The unbeaten Parker will enter this fight with a record of 24-0, with 17 Knockouts and has successfully defended his title twice scoring twelve round decisions over Razvan Cojanu and previously undefeated WBO number one Heavyweight contender Hughie Fury in his last fight in September of last year.
This appears to be a classic scenario of a boxer in Parker going against a puncher in Joshua. While Joshua proven in his fight against Wladmir Klitschko that he is more than capable of Boxing if required, it is logical to assume that he will look to apply pressure on the twenty-six year old Parker early on and attempt to walk the WBO champion down. In contrast to the unified IBF/WBA/IBO world champion, Parker has deceptive power, but is more noted for his ability to gradually outwork his opponents, accumulate points and win fights by decision.
Although the crowd support is likely to favor Joshua, who has fought his recent bouts in front of massive crowds in stadiums including the venue where this unification clash will take place, it is worth noting that Parker proved in his last title defense that he can enter hostile territory and successfully defend his crown. As for how Joseph Parker can do that in this fight, this observer believes he must figure out a way to weather what will likely be an aggressive Joshua early and if he can get passed the storm of his opponent’s early attack without sustaining too much damage, he must figure out how to neutralize Joshua’s power and look to gradually take over the tempo of the fight as it progresses.
While there will likely be an even bigger and more lucrative opportunity that will await the winner of this fight, what is note worthy about this unification bout as compared to some others throughout the history of Boxing is two undefeated Heavyweight world champions will meet each other to unify their portions of the crown, but unlike when Mike Tyson met Tony Tucker to unify what was then the Undisputed World Heavyweight championship in Las Vegas, NV in 1987, this encounter will take place outside of the United States in one of the biggest markets for the sport in the world, the United Kingdom. A testament to not only the global popularity of the sport of Boxing, but also the evolving economics of the sport.
Even though some may choose to discuss what will be in store for the winner of this fight at great length before it takes place. Given the variables that will be in play after this highly anticipated Heavyweight unification bout, this observer will instead take the wait and see approach before sharing his thoughts on what will come next in what the Boxing world can only hope will lead to one “Undisputed Heavyweight world champion.”
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Joshua vs. Parker takes place on Saturday, March 31st at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The fight can be seen in the United States on Showtime across cable and satellite as well as the Showtime and Showtime Anytime apps beginning at 5PM ET/2PM PT. For more information about Showtime, Showtime Sports, the Showtime and Showtime Anytime apps as well as a list of available devices please visit: www.sho.com.
The fight will be televised as a pay-per-view event in the United Kingdom on Sky Box Office for £19.95 beginning at 6PM (Local UK Time) for more information about Sky Box Office and to order the fight please visit: www.sky.com/SkyBoxOffice. Check your listings internationally.
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