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Joseph Parker delivers in a career best performance over Deontay Wilder

Author
RNZ , Jamie Wall,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Dec 2023, 10:45AM
Joseph Parker celebrates after defeating Deontay Wilder at the Day of Reckoning Boxing event in Saudi Arabia. Photo: PhotoSport / Stephen Dunkley / Round 'N' Bout Media
Joseph Parker celebrates after defeating Deontay Wilder at the Day of Reckoning Boxing event in Saudi Arabia. Photo: PhotoSport / Stephen Dunkley / Round 'N' Bout Media

Joseph Parker delivers in a career best performance over Deontay Wilder

Author
RNZ , Jamie Wall,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Dec 2023, 10:45AM

By RNZ

Christmas and Boxing Day came early for Joseph Parker. His unanimous decision victory over Deontay Wilder in Riyadh was something few saw coming, but to be fair it’s because few would have even predicted it happening only a few months ago.

They called this event The Day of Reckoning, a perfect name for what Parker stepped up and did. This was a win of resilience and will, showing everyone just how much he wants to be a big player in the heavyweight division.

It would have been the crime of the century if Parker hadn’t been given a unanimous win after 12 dominant rounds, so it was no surprise that the cards read 118-111, 118-110 and 120-108 after the final bell. The win gained Parker the WBC International and WBO Intercontinental belts and about $10 million, but the real prize is what comes next.

This is arguably the biggest win of Parker’s career, along with his world title win in 2016. It’s instantaneously catapulted him back into the heavyweight main event picture and probably lined up another multi-million-dollar payday in 2024.

Just to put it in perspective, have a look at where Parker was this time last year: in limbo after a one-sided defeat to Briton Joe Joyce, with serious questions as to whether he’d even continue fighting. Even only as recently as May, he was fighting in Melbourne against a bloke who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.

Parker had pretty much proven himself in the eyes of fight fans, anyway. A former world champion, who fought on the biggest stage in 2018 against boxing’s biggest star, all before he was even 30. Parker has spent the time since in a frustrating pattern of attempting to get back into the orbit of the title that he once held, but it never once looked likely until this fight with Wilder came out of the blue.

The biggest leveller was going to be Wilder’s ring rust. The 38-year-old from Alabama came in having only fought once in the past two years and it showed, looking thoroughly disinterested through the first four rounds as Parker methodically carried out trainer Andy Lee’s fight plan.

When Wilder tried to lift the pace, Parker shifted gears too and wasn’t afraid to get in close with the renowned knockout merchant, knowing that from then on it was his fight to lose. The explosion from Wilder never came, because Parker never let him unleash by expertly clinching and denying any advantage his much taller opponent had.

The telling blow came late once it became clear that Wilder needed to throw everything at the fight to have any hope of a stoppage. Parker struck back with a beautiful overhand right, snapping Wilder’s head sideways. It’s hard to know what was more painful, the punch or the look of resignation on Wilder’s face as he realised this was a truly lost cause.

Just what promoters Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn were thinking right then would be fascinating. Headlines were already being typed up about a presumed March match up between Wilder and Anthony Joshua, with the British former world champions making short work of Swede Otto Wallin in the other main event.

That’s all up in the air now, but does Parker essentially take Wilder’s spot? It’s certainly not out of the question, although this is boxing so it really just comes down to how much money it can make as opposed to another match up.

But this will see Parker’s value skyrocket, given the nature of the win. Most expected him to end up on his back thanks to Wilder’s punching power, but now he’s very much regained the reputation of ring tactician that can be a good style clash for anyone.

The promo clip for Day Of Reckoning featured Parker and the other fighters as zombies on the loose seemed bizarre, but right now it’s feeling very apt.

Joseph Parker’s career is back from the dead, thanks to a bit of luck and absolute ton of hard work.

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