Today’s match between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker at Principality Stadium in Wales was the first unification bout between undefeated title holders since Mike Tyson defended his WBA and WBC belts against IBF title-holder Tony Tucker in 1987. When it was over, Joshua had a third strap to wrap around his waist, but the Kiwi achieved a moral victory of sorts by becoming the first man to go the distance with the British boxing megastar.
Joshua, who advanced to 21-0, started strong and finished strong. At the onset, Parker looked to be over-matched and it appeared that Joshua could win as he pleased. But Parker was finally able to get inside Joshua’s reach in round five and this inspired him. In the next round, he was the aggressor and suddenly it appeared that he had a reasonable chance of turning the tide. But for Joshua, this was a momentary relapse. He would be a clear-cut winner, prevailing by scores of 118-110 twice and 119-109. There were no knockdowns, but Parker suffered a small cut above his right eye in round 10.
It wasn’t a scintillating performance by AJ who came in 10 pounds lighter than he had carried six months earlier against Carlos Takam, and it certainly wasn’t a scintillating performance by the Italian referee, Giuseppe Quartarone, who was lambasted on twitter for being too quick to break the fighters when they fell into a clinch.
To no one’s surprise, Alexander Povetkin knocked out David Price. The end for Price came in the fifth round. An overhand right hurt him and a left hook finished him off. The punch left Price flat on his back. Paramedics attended to him but he left the ring on his own power.
With the victory, the 38-year-old Russian improved to 34-1 (24) and became the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s WBA belt. A former kickboxing champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Povetkin has now won eight straight since suffering his lone defeat at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko in a bout where he failed to win a single round. He was banned for life by the WBC after a second offense for PED use, but the ban was lifted in December.
Price excited his rooters in the third round when he got off the canvas to score a knockdown of his own. (Povetkin remained upright because the ropes held him up, but it was rightly scored a knockdown.) But that was his last hurrah and this was likely the end of the line for him. Once a hardly regarded prospect, the six-foot-eight Price wasn’t able to successfully adapt to the pro game because of a soft beard and stamina issues. This was the fifth time that he has been stopped.
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Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett, who is part of the burgeoning Belfast boxing scene, successfully defended his WBA “super” world bantamweight title and kept his unbeaten record intact with a 12-round decision over uninspired Yonfrez Parejo. Burnett (19-0) has been extended the distance in each of his last eight fights. He fought from the third round on with an apparent broken right hand. Venezuela’s Parejo declined to 21-3-1.
In a 10-round lightweight contest, Anthony Crolla (33-6-3) overcame a bad cut above his right eye resulting from a clash of heads in the third round to carve out a one-sided decision over Edson Ramirez (18-3-1). It was a workmanlike performance by Crolla, a former WBA lightweight champion. Ramirez was unbeaten in his last 18 starts coming in, but all of his prior fights were in Mexico.
Also, Josh Kelly won a comfortable decision over Carlos Molina in a 10-round welterweight contest. This was a step up for Kelly (6-0) who has been on the fast track since competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. In Mexico’s Molina, he was meeting a former IBF 154-pound champion who fought Erislandy Lara to a draw in 2011 in a fight that many thought he won. The 34-year-old Molina (28-9-2) has now lost three straight.
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