Joseph Parker

oseph Dennis Parker, Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa[1] (/ˈpɑːkə/; born January 9, 1992) is a New Zealand professional boxer. He has held the WBO heavyweight title since December 2016, having previously held the regional WBO Oriental and Africa heavyweight titles. As an amateur he represented New Zealand at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the super-heavyweight division, and narrowly missed qualification for the 2012 Olympics.[2]

Parker turned professional in July 2012 with Duco Events in Auckland, under the tutelage of Sir Bob Jones.[3] After defeating Andy Ruiz for the WBO heavyweight title, Parker became the first heavyweight boxer from either New Zealand or the Pacific Islands to win a major world championship.[4] As of December 2016, he is ranked the world’s fifth best heavyweight by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, seventh best by The Ring magazine and sixth by BoxRec.

Joseph Parker was born in South Auckland on January 9, 1992 to Dempsey and Sala Parker. He grew up and was raised in the large suburb of Māngere in Auckland, where he attended Marcellin College. Boxing had been a part of Parker’s life since his early childhood after being first introduced at a very young age of three. His father, whom was named after the legendary American boxer Jack Dempsey, brought many boxing accessories and toys for him and his siblings.[5] His father also had a boxing bag and pads at home and used to train Joseph and his younger brother. But it was not until he was ten years old when he joined the Papatoetoe Boxing Club to pursue and learn more about the sport.[6] He was trained by Grant Arkell and former great, Manny Santos.[7] When Parker was growing up, he admired David Tua and Maselino Masoe who were from the same area as him.[8] He is the middle child, being one of three children. Parker has one older sister called, Elizabeth and a younger brother, John, who currently is a professional boxer. He is of Samoan decent, with his ancestry roots going back to the Faleula Village on the main island of Upolu where his mother hails from.[9] Both his parents migrated to New Zealand from Samoa in the early 1980’s. Parker also comes from a religious family, belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Parker had success during his amateur career being two time New Zealand Amateur Heavyweight Champion in 2010 and 2011 as well as being able to win several amateur tournaments and score a couple of notable wins on the international circuit.[10] Having his first fight at the early age of twelve, Parker grew and progressed, winning the 2009 New Zealand Golden Gloves Tournament in Palmerston North.[11] He followed up with a second placing at the New Zealand Elite National Championships, losing to rival Junior Fa.[11]

Parker started traveling around the world at sixteen years of age. His first international tournament was at the Commonwealth Boxing Championships in 2010 where he won silver.[12] It was not until he prepared for the AIBA Youth World Championships in Azerbaijan. Parker’s first major event. Unfortunately he had to attend by himself because of affordability, but was looked after by the AustralianNational Team Management as his coach Grant Arkell could not afford to accompany him.[13] He was also to be the sole representative of his country in the quarterfinals after he beat Turkey‘s Yusuf Açik to face the Pan-American champion Yuniel Castro Chavez from Cuba.[14] Parker won the bout on points, 8:1 to advance to the semifinals.[15] He then fought Croatia’s Filip Hrgović. They traded punches in a closely-matched bout that saw the scores remain within one point of each other for most of the match. In the end it was the Croatian who managed to gain the upper hand in the final round and push ahead to an 8:6 victory, as Parker left the ring nursing an injured nose but successfully winning bronze.[16] Parker then traveled to Singapore, to compete at the Youth Olympics. He won silver after defeating Jozsef Zsigmond in the semifinals.[17] He then proceeded to the final where he lost on points against Tony Yoka of France.[18]

After what was a busy season for Parker, he finished the year off featuring in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The then 18-year-old beat Canadian Didier Bence14:7 in a fiery contest, charging home late in the third and final round when it appeared the fight was slipping away. Parker was down 7:5 on points when he landed a decisive right hand to Bence’s head with one minute 15 seconds remaining. It knocked the Canadian down and effectively ended the fight as Parker registered the last nine points.[19]Parker then advanced to the quarterfinals. He lost to Tariq Abdul Haqq. The fight was tied at 7:7 after Parker landed a late punch to tie up the scores. The judges, however, gave Abdul Haqq the win by a majority decision of three of the five judges.[20] Thus meaning Parker missed out on earning a medal.

In 2011, Parker won his first notable gold medal in Darwin, Australia at the Arafura Games.[21] He began with two wins by stoppage, with a first round victory in the quarterfinals over Jean Tuisamoa of New Caledonia.[22] Followed by the semifinals against Jake Ageidu. He then met Emile Gineste from Tahiti, in his final. Parker had little trouble with his opponent, with the referee ending the contest in the first round.[23] Parker, continued his rise up the World Amateur standings, with further gold medal success. He opened his Chinese campaign in Guiyang at the China Open tournament, stopping Iderbat Davaalkhagva from Mongolia. In the final he was opposed by Ospanov Doszham from Kazakstan. Parker was awarded the victory by way of a six point winning margin.[24] At the 50th Belgrade annual boxing tournament, Parker finished up his amateur career defeating 2012 London Olympics berth winner, Johan Linde of Australia, to claim his third gold. He had previously beaten Erik Pfeifer of Germany on points to secure a place in the finals.

Parker made his professional debut, under the bright lights of Auckland’s SkyCity’s Convention Centre. Dean Garmonsway, was chosen as Parker’s first opponent. A Hamiltonphysical education school teacher and former Waikato Rugby League representative, had only three professional boxing bouts, amounting to two wins and one loss. The bout featured on the undercard of Godfather of All Fight Nights, Shane Cameron vs. Monte Barrett title eliminator. The then twenty-year-old stepped into the professional ranks for the first time, Parker was hyped as New Zealand’s most promising boxer since David Tua and had a lot to lose going into his professional debut.[26] Parker overcame with a early stoppage victory, smashing his opponent with some thundering shots, winning by technical knockout midway through the second round.[27]

After scoring a number of consecutive victories in New Zealand and America, Parker agreed to fight South African Francois Botha. Botha known to be capable of landing a quality punch or two, and the ability to send fighters to the canvas. Parker was favourite to win and expected to add another win to his professional record.[28] Controversy occurred, leading to Parker’s manager, Sir Bob Jones, quitting over the suitability of pitching Joseph against Botha, especially after Botha’s recent controversy-filled fight with Sonny Bill Williams. He defeated Botha in June 2013 by a second round stoppage over the former four-time world heavyweight contender.[29]

Following his win over Botha, Parker extended his unbeaten professional record to seven wins on October 10, 2013 with a second-round knockout over Afa Tatupu at the Trusts Arena in Waitakere, Auckland. All the predictions before the fight were the two would unleash early in the contest, and they came true as Parker won the fight with a stunning second round blow. Parker secured the New Zealand National Boxing Federation title with an impressive win marred only by a serious cut he suffered in the opening round when the fighters clashed heads. The fight doctor considered ending the fight after the first round due to the state of the cut above the left eye but Parker’s manager Kevin Barrypleaded for a second round and got it. His charge responded with a flurry of punches which lowered former champion Tatupu two minutes into the second round. Tatupu came out strong in the first round and threw some good shots, testing the chin of the then 21-year-old rising star. The two then got into a brawl as they traded punch for punch.[30]

Parker threw plenty at his opponent, showing his speed and power late in the first round but Tatupu was saved by the bell as he battled against the ropes. The punishment continued in the second round before Parker delivered the killer blow. It was an action-packed contest, with the then 33-year-old Tatupu opening in aggressive style and prompting a belligerent response from Parker after he was searching for an upset knockout win. The pair went toe-to-toe for much of the second round before Parker’s superior speed and power made the difference.[31]

Parker started off 2014 after he defeated Brazilian Marcelo Luiz Nascimento after a flurry of blows in the seventh round saw referee Brad Vocale stop the fight, although Nascimento protested the decision. Parker was the dominant figure throughout the bout and won the interim Pan Asian Boxing Association heavyweight championship for his efforts. The fight, on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko‘s world heavyweight title defence against Australian Alex Leapai, was Parker’s eighth as a professional. Nascimento, who was a late replacement for durable veteran Sherman Williams, brought a 17–5 record to the contest, which was largely padded by results in his homeland. But in the seventh, which turned out to be the final frame, Parker’s power began to show and when Nascimento was unable to defend himself the bout was stopped.

In his next bout he defeated 39-year-old defending American WBO Oriental heavyweight champion Brian Minto[32] on July 5, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. Parker knocked Minto down in the fifth round and then opened his arms. After rocking him again in the seventh Minto did not return as his corner threw in the towel, leaving Joseph winning his third title. Having been knocked down twice, Minto knew at the end of the seventh round he had no chance of winning. He also confirmed he had carried a broken nose suffered in sparring the previous week into the fight.[33]

Following an easy victory over another American Keith Thompson in August, Parker went on to outclass durable Bahamian 42-year-old Sherman Williams with a convincing unanimous dec

Following a three-week camp as sparring partner to World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in Florida, Parker announced to fight three more bouts in 2015, re-commencing in Palmerston North on 13 June where he defeated Turkish-born German fighter Yakup Saglam in an emphatic second-round knockout.[38] Parker battered Saglam late in the first round, but stepped it up in the second with his big hits. Saglam had a massive right hook of his own, but could not land any, while Parker’s speed and power were too much. Joseph maintained his unbeaten record, notching his fourteenth win and twelfth by knockout while also again retaining his two titles.[39]

Following the withdrawal of Japanese heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto, Parker beat Australian replacement Bowie Tupou on 1 August in Invercargill, New Zealand, by first-round knockout. He then fought 45-year-old former World Title contender Kali Meehan (42 wins; 5 losses) on 15 October in Auckland. The New Zealand-born Australian Meehan earned his shot at the promising heavyweight after winning the Super 8 competition and beating Kiwi veteran Shane Cameron. Parker’s dynamic hand speed and power destroyed veteran Kali Meehan inside three rounds of their heavyweight clash. After dominating the opening two rounds, Parker put away the veteran with a stunning combination one minute into the third round. He set it up with a straight left and finished it off with a powerful overhand right. Meehan struggled to get up off the canvas and wobbled against the ropes with referee Ferlin Marsh waving the finish for a technical knockout. He added the WBC’s Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council‘s heavyweight belt and the WBA’s Oceania title to his collection.[40]

Parker’s next two opponents were both named on 9 November 2015, with American 24-year-old Daniel Martz selected for 5 December 2015 in Hamilton, followed by southpaw Jason Bergman, also of the United States, on 23 January 2016 in Apia, Samoa.[41]

Parker had scored an emphatic first-round technical knockout win over Martz at the Fight For Life event. As expected, he wasted no time in flooring the 2.02 meter American at Claudelands Arena, for a super quick technical knockout victory. Parker took just one minute and 17 seconds to floor the big-talking Martz flat on his face with a big swinging right punch to the left-side of his head.

Parker notched his 18th consecutive win with an eighth-round technical knockout of American Jason Bergman in Samoa. Far from the one or two round finishes of his more recent fights, Parker was made to work for his victory by a staunch and determined Bergman. The challenger offered very little on offense but displayed some impressive mettle in soldiering through a number of Parker onslaughts, the champion tenderising the body relentlessly in what proved to be the ideal workout against his first southpaw opponent. After twice sending Bergman to his knee in earlier rounds for the count, one particularly brutal liver shot crumbled the American, the referee having seen enough as he waved off the fight.

ision.[34] After Williams losing, he continued to cause controversy after he kept attempting to snatch and grab the microphone within the ring and issuing a re-match challenge against Parker. He claimed that he’d knock out Parker in the sixth round in a re-match. Parker quoted saying it’s not up to him and we are fighters and lets leave it to the judges to decide.[35]

Parker continued his winning form after he knocked out top-ranked Brazilian and WBO Latino heavyweight champion Irineu Beato Costa Junior in December 2014,[36] before doing the same to unknown American 34-year-old Jason Pettaway in March 2015.[37] Parker had moved to 13-0 in his professional boxing career after beating Pettaway and Costa Junior by both coming from knockouts in the fourth round. Joseph retained his Pan Asian Boxing Association and WBO Oriental heavyweight titles.

WBO heavyweight champio

In late October, the Parker verse Ruiz title fight had been officially sanctioned by the WBO. The organisation had granted permission to Parker fighting Andy Ruiz for their belt with their championship committee voting unanimously in favor of the title fight.[49] The belt was vacated by Tyson Fury, who was battling depression and drug issues and had not fought since November 2015 after defeating Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles.[50] Although the WBO president Francisco Varcarcel said his preference was to set up a four-man box-off for the vacant title involving the four leading available contenders for their belt but it had gone down the route of their own rules book which gave number one ranked Parker the first rights to challenge.[51] With number two ranked Klitschko targeted the WBA belt, cleared the way for number three Ruiz to step up against Parker.

Parker with his WBO title alongside Australian High Commissioner Sue Langford in Samoa, December 2016

Discussions and negotiations began after Fury was expected to be stripped of his WBO belt over inactivity and testing positive for cocaine.[52] With his sudden announcement that he would relinquish his various heavyweight world title belts due to his issues with various problems, it was unclear exactly how the WBO and WBA would go about filling the vacancies. But before Fury vacated, Duco Events promoter Dean Lonergan announced in early October he had been negotiating an alternative WBO title fight against Andy Ruiz, suggesting he had a chance of reaching a deal with Bob Arum. He pointed out that WBO rules stated that the two best classified contenders’ will challenge for the title.[53] Arum told that he was in talks with the WBO about making it for the vacant title. He also said his experience dealing with Parker and his team has so far been a pleasure.[54]

Parker became the first heavyweight boxer from New Zealand to win a world title as he won via majority decision. Two of the judges scored it 115–13 in favour of Parker as the third judge scored it a 114–114 draw. Parker said it was a dream come true. Ruiz started off the better boxer and was the main aggressor throughout the fight. Parker picked up the pace in the middle rounds winning most of them but Ruiz got back into the fight during the championship rounds. Both boxers showed great respect for each other throughout the bout. Ruiz spoke of his unhappiness stating he felt he won the fight or even deserved a draw and wanted a rematch.[55][56]

A lot of criticism surfaced, believing Parker lost the fight after his encounter with Ruiz. Parker’s promoters were disappointed on what they heard, coming out saying some of the most vocal critics have been bitter towards Parker’s success from early in his career. Duco’s David Higgins said the criticism was crap, and that the public deserved to be told the full story. Some, most notably New Zealand Professional Boxing Association president Lance Revill, described the majority decision by the WBO-appointed independent judges as bullshit, with Revill adding he was embarrassed to be a New Zealander after watching the fight at Auckland’s Vector Arena. Rather than score the fight close, Revill had it 118–111 to Ruiz. Most experts ruled it a close Parker win or a draw