After an illustrious 2017, WBO Heavyweight belt holder Joseph Parker is one of the biggest names in boxing.
2018 is, however, set to be the New Zealander’s genuine ‘acid test’, with undefeated Brit, Joshua lying in wait.
Hailing from the tough suburbs of South Auckland, Parker will earn more money that he could ever have imagined during his youth. However, the latest odds surrounding his imminent fight with Joshua suggest that he faces losing the belt that he holds so dearly.
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Everything hinges on his fight with Anthony Joshua, which is reflected in the Joshua-Parker betting odds, where the Kiwi will go in as a huge underdog. While this in itself may only contribute in a minor way towards his popularity, only victory can give him true, long-lasting universal respect.
Going the distance against Joshua would give him at least a fighting chance of winning over American and British audiences Yet, even without taking Commonwealth audiences into consideration, Parker has struggled to generate interest in his fights, having to fight on YouTube and in front of sparse crowds.
Parker’s slower rise to the top in comparison to Joshua poses a curt question: does Parker suffer from a lack of respect?
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He is obviously a very talented boxer, but his lack of punching power–as evidenced by a knockout rate of just 75 percent–will mean he struggles to get promoted and puts him at a disadvantage against the likes of Joshua and Wilder.
Indeed, audiences of a certain generation cannot fail to remember the raw power of Mike Tyson, and how his dominant performances thrilled the world. Therein lies another reason that Parker does not command the respect he perhaps should.
Should Anthony Joshua make good on his status as an overwhelming 1/12 favorite, then Parker would need far better promotion to get the fights he wants. Fights against the likes of Dillian Whyte in the UK, or Dominic Breazeale in the States, would be a near-perfect tonic for Parker, giving him a second (albeit final) chance to keep his name in the spotlight and his earnings relatively high.
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Parker will want 2018 to be the year when he proves to everyone how good he is. A win against Joshua would put Wilder in his sights – in layman’s terms, the power-punching Wilder represents the ‘final boss’ of boxing right now.
Craved by a planet of boxing fans for too long, an undisputed Heavyweight champion of the world will soon be crowned.
While most expect Joshua will take on that mantle within two years, a few expect it to be Wilder – very few outside New Zealand expect it to be Parker. He’ll be out to prove a lot of people wrong in 2018, which should prove to be an historic year in the noble sport.
Header photo by Photosport