Anthony Joshua defeats Joseph Parker on 12th round by margin to add WBO heavyweight title to his WBA, IBO and IBF belts.
AJ was taken the distance for the first time in his professional life as he added yet another world heavyweight title to his unifying roll call of honours. Four down and one to go.
After his unanimous points victory over the gallant WBO champion Joseph Parker, only Deontay Wilder’s WBC belt remains to be strapped around that muscular torso.
The all-knock-out record came to a halt in his 21st fight but much of the credit for that goes to Parker, with only a modicum of blame for AJ.
Joshua used Parker’s capacity for absorbing heavy punishment to his exercise his improving skills as well as his considerable power.
There was experience gained under the roof in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium which will be valuable when our WBA, IBF, IBO and now WBA ttlle holder goes after Wilder in his bid to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewsi.
And that’s the fight he is screaming out for next.
‘Let’s go Deontay Wilder,’ he bellowed into the microphone. And the 80,000 rose as one man to roar their belief when he told the American who choose to watch in a New York TV studio rather than travel here: ‘Come to London and I’ll knock you spark out.’
Never mind that Parker avoided such a fate. Joshua is an honest man and he was not over-excited by his performance. But he rightly pointed out that he used his left jab to better effect than ever before.
That jolting weapon is now established as the platform for further development. He is still a relative novice, after all.
Parker, for all his courage, was never going to pull off either of his two plans of action – an early knock out or a late win over a fading Joshua.
The aspersions cast on Joshua’s chin and stamina were roundly refuted as he dominated the ring and pounded home the jab, along with a few hefty hooks and uppercuts for meaty measure.
‘It’s only about knock-outs,’ he told the congregation in the Principality. ‘This was a boxing match.’
So it was. And he won it by two official votes of 118-112, one of 119-111.
here was a bubbling sense of expectancy about two unbeaten giants contesting a world heavyweight title unification fight on British soil for the first time. That and a glitzy undercard had the vaulting tiers of the Principality filling early and the atmosphere buzzing.
The A-D lists of stars came out, led by boxing royalty in the person of American legend Sugar Ray Leonard and British heavyweight hero Frank Bruno.
With Floyd Mayweather retired and Canelo Alvarez under drugs investigation Joshua is rapidly becoming the main attraction in world boxing.
No-one else right now is filling football grounds and banking £20 million purses.
Only one of the rival world heavyweight champions and one of the alpha-belts were absent, Namely America’s Deontay Wilder – who has some explaining to do about his crass declaration that he wants to kill an opponent in the ring – and his WBC title.
Given the controversy his remarks have caused and his irritation with Eddie Hearn for trying to coerce him into fighting Dillian Whyte before Joshua, perhaps Wilder was better off back home in the USA.