Joseph Parker admitted he could have done more in a desperate final round as he lost his world boxing title to Anthony Joshua. A brave Parker took Joshua the distance for the first tme in the big Brit’s career but lost a unanimous points decision by a wide margin – 118-110, 118-110, 119-109.
The writing was on the wall for Parker over the championship rounds but he couldn’t penetrate the armour of the classy Joshua.
He needed a knockout in the 12th and final round but it played out much like most of the fight, with Parker struggling to get on the front foot enough to pressurise Joshua into presenting an opening.
He conceded he hadn’t fired enough double-jabs to bring some hesitancy to Joshua who commanded the middle of the ring for most of the fight and collected points with it.
“It’s learning. I could have done more, I didn’t really throw all the punches that I could. I guess it’s learning and coming back stronger.”
Parker felt his movement was good and his body shots to Joshua were effective but he was unable to set up enough power shots to have a chance of toppling his larger opponent.
Forced to try to go to the inside, Parker wasn’t helped by a referee who frequently broke up the close-range exchanges to frustrate the Kiwis who were happy to get in a slug-fest in the tight situations if necessary.
Parker said that Joshua hadn’t hurt him and suggested the cut over his left eye was from a Joshua elbow.
While Parker showed good snap in his jabs and punches in general, his trainer Kevin Barry lamented more wasn’t done to maximise his fighter’s hand speed.
“I think Joe hit the nail on the head when we had the training camp to work on the double jab. The double jab is very important, not only for an offensive weapon but for a defensive tool and Joe sort of drifted away from that a little bit,” Barry said.
They had strategised to be in the fight by the middle stages and try to surge home over the back half against an opponent they felt would weaken. To his credit, Joshua anticipated that, dropping weight and increasing his endurance.
“I thought after six rounds it was our fight to win. Joshua had a really good first four rounds, he was moving well. Five, not so much, Joe touched him a few times in the fifth and the sixth.”
Barry and Parker were surprised at the margins on the judges’ cards with the trainer believing some of Parker’s body shots had been overlooked.
But Parker was thrilled with the experience of fighting a massive world title fight in front of a huge crowd.
“It was an amazing experience, our whole team enjoyed being here, we loved it. We’ve been looked after well and fighting in front of all those people was a great experience,” Parker said.
He added his parents were “proud and happy” with his effort.
“We will be back again,” he continued.
“If we fought again, I would work harder, be stronger and throw more punches.”
Joshua felt he had cleverly out-manouvered Parker and proven his worth as a 12-round fighter when doubts had been expressed about that.
Despite being forced to go to the final bell for the first time in his career, he ranked Parker as only his third-toughest opponent behind Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam.
“It is difficult when someone comes and is backing up all the time and so on and so forth. But so be it,” he said.
He also felt he had proven any doubts about his speed and movement.
He said he had meant to be fighting the man with the fastest hands in the division “but I beat him to the punch every time”.
He felt Parker still had a role to play.
“Joseph won’t give up now, he is still young and I think we will definitely see Joseph Parker again,” Joshua predicted.
“But I think just on this evening, I was more focussed, more disciplined and carried on attacking. I was the better man.”