sports gazette

Fury and Parker both miss chance to stake convincing claim for Joshua showdown

Photo by Alex Livesy/Getty Images
Published: 24 Sep 2017

Englishman Hughie Fury suffered his first professional defeat and a setback in his designs on a fight with Anthony Joshua while his opponent did little more to further his cause.

Eyebrows were once again raised in scepticism upon the announcement of the official decision on Saturday night in the Heavyweight clash between Hughie Fury and Joseph Parker. The timing of another disputable decision was hardly ideal with disbelief and downright disgust at Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez’ controversial draw last week still fresh. In a fight that was widely agreed to have been close and difficult to call, two judges dubiously scored the fight ten rounds to two in Parker’s favour who remains the WBO World Heavyweight champion.

The fight represented an opportunity for both men to stake a claim for a future unification fight with Anthony Joshua or “the golden goose” as Parker called him. According to Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, AJ is likely to fight the winner of more established heavyweights, Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz, who fight in November provided that Joshua, if expected, takes care of Kubrat Pulev on October 28th. Parker anticipated that a “big fight” would now be forthcoming following his unconvincing victory but the likelihood is that both Fury and Parker missed the chance to place their names into serious contention.

The conspicuously emphatic scorecards delivered by two of the judges are difficult to defend but this scoring this fight was still an onerous task. Though Fury felt that he “had done enough to win” and Parker believed that he had “caught him with the harder punches”, neither man’s case was particularly compelling.

The argument can reasonably be made that Fury scraped the contest. He was certainly appeared the more skilled fighter as he evaded nimbly and did not allow the New Zealander to land many significant blows. Fury deserves reserved credit for the defensive skill that he showed. He fought in a somewhat similar fashion to his cousin Tyson two years ago against Wladimir Klitschko. As Tyson did against the Ukranian, Hughie used his superior reach and advanced movement for such a huge man to attempt to attack Parker from range.

Although Fury’s promoter, Mick Hennessey, called his performance a “masterclass” and the subsequent decision “disgusting”, the 22-year-old did not land many significant blows himself and make Parker pay for missing. He boxed on the back foot for virtually the entire fight which, evidently, did not impress two of the judges. Fury landed the occasional truly effective shot, most notably a right uppercut in the fourth round, but he often received a parting shot in return from Parker as he returned to the outer range. Save for these odd moments, Fury remained on the outside, flicking his jab and the odd offensive strike from his comfortable orbit.

Parker was also only rarely effective. Crucially, in the eyes of two judges at least, he was more aggressive and pressed forward offensively with greater purpose and regularity. However, he did so in an often errant fashion. Parker definitely landed the night’s biggest punches but he would not have particularly impressed many observers as he failed to cut off the ring particularly well as he tried to chase down Fury who then mostly avoided his lunges and looping hooks.

A Fury win might have led to an increased demand for a clash with his compatriot. Although that eventuality will now be postponed, Fury is only 23 and can, of course, return having built on his pre-existing talent. He can improve his ability to fight on the inside or to sit on his punches more and increase their subsequent power. After another chapter of inconspicuous title defences for Parker, he will likely have to wait behind others for a chance to make good on his prediction of “exposing the weaknesses” of Joshua.

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