Welcome to the Cheat Sheet, a clickable, shareable, bite-sized FAQ on the news of the moment. Today, Joseph Parker is heading back to the UK to rejoin the hunt for the heavyweight title.
What’s all this then?
Joseph Parker has signed to fight British heavyweight Dillian Whyte in London on July 28.
Parker’s fighting a British heavyweight in the UK? Haven’t we seen this one already?
Yes! No! Parker did indeed fight a British heavyweight, superstar Anthony Joshua, but the fight was at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, a gladiatorial cauldron seating 80 thousand drunken Welshmen.
This bit of biffo is set for the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London.
What happened with Joshua?
Parker lost the match to an uncharacteristically tentative champion, who fought cautiously behind the jab all night. For the first time in his career Joshua was unable to finish his opponent, and Parker emerged almost totally unscathed.
While the only real fireworks came during Joshua’s marathon entrance to the ring, it was a competitive fight with just enough questions around the officiating and Parker’s relative inexperience at that level to merit a rematch in the near future. And regardless of the outcome, Parker’s class and professionalism significantly raised his stock in the all-important UK market.
The UK market? Isn’t Las Vegas the home of boxing?
Sure, in some respects. But right now the greatest heavyweights in the world are from England, and there’s an argument that the best promoters are too. Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, with perfect 21-0 and 25-0 records respectively, have looked near invincible over the past few years, and Joshua’s manager Eddie Hearn consistently puts on the biggest, most-hyped title fights in the sport. There are many popular fighters in boxing, and plenty of smaller yet more skilled champions, but no division carries the same prestige as the heavyweights.
Crucially, Hearn promotes another top British heavyweight, Dillian Whyte.
Who is this Whyte bloke, then?
A former heavyweight kickboxer, Whyte is probably most famous for losing to Anthony Joshua in a seven round brawl in 2015. Despite ending up unconscious and laying half outside the ring, Whyte did have his moments, showing flashes of the sort of power that typifies heavyweight boxing. And unlike Joshua, who had a huge six inch reach advantage over Parker, Whyte is going to have to fight in close – something Parker’s team believe will be crucial.
Who’s on Parker’s team these days? Has he dropped that Kevin Barry guy?
He has not – and rightly so. Despite coming up short, the Joseph Parker who fought Anthony Joshua was the most complete boxer to ever represent New Zealand, and there is still plenty Parker can learn from Barry. The dynamic between the pair (Parker lives with Barry’s family in Los Angeles) is an important component of Parker’s success thus far, and for a family-oriented, loyal boxer, maintaining that relationship is equatable with any potential technical gains to be found elsewhere.
David Higgins, Parker’s polarising promoter, is still to properly receive credit from the New Zealand public as a whole for what he’s achieved. Despite the apparent (and very real) chaos surrounding Higgins, he’s an unusually shrewd and perceptive guy, one who has built relationships with legitimate madmen like gypsy promoter Peter Fury and the notoriously slick Hearn. Having spoken to Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua during the build up to the fight earlier this year, it’s abundantly clear both respect Higgins on a professional level, and Hearn at least on a personal level too. Higgins has also made a young Pacific Islander from South Auckland enough money he could retire tomorrow without developing the reputation of a Don King or Bob Arum figure.
On a promotional level, a bout with another high profile British heavyweight, one who will be forced to fight on Parker’s terms in what is inevitably going to be more brawl than chess match, is the right move.
A win sets up Parker for a rematch with Joshua, a fight he is still absolutely capable of winning, and in a straight-up firefight with Whyte, Parker is likely to deliver a highlight reel knockout to further raise his profile in the UK. Parker is a charismatic and clean cut contender, and a win in July means he could pull millions of dollars more before the end of 2018, as well as dispel any doubts about his legitimacy or relevance worldwide.
Yea, but is he going to win?
Absolutely. It’s the shadow realm for Whyte come July 28.