Boxing expert Chris Oliver is back to preview Saturday's heavyweight clash between Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker from London's O2 arena.
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Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker enter the ring at London's O2 arena on Saturday night (Sky Sports Box Office, 10pm approx) chasing the same goal - a rematch with Anthony Joshua.
Each man suffered the only blemish on their record to 'AJ' and a place towards the front of the queue for another crack at British boxing's golden boy is the reward in this intriguing non-title bout.
Parker became the first man to go the distance with Joshua in late March and very much held his own for the first half of the fight, with his excellent jab and well-timed counters making his usually aggressive opponent cautious. Joshua took control after halfway as Parker seemed to become more wary of AJ's power, and the Kiwi was also not helped by the referee breaking them up every time he looked to work on the inside, which most people saw as his main chance for success.
The wide scores didn't tell the story of what a competitive fight it was and the New Zealander was never seriously troubled by his big-punching foe. However, he also failed to inflict any significant damage on Joshua, which cannot be said of Whyte in his tussle with the Olympic gold medalist.
Leather flew from the get-go in their domestic grudge match and Whyte seriously rocked Joshua in the second round, only for the bell to save the latter, who went on to brutally halt his rival in the seventh.
Whyte has improved in the subsequent two and a half years and arrives on the back of a career-best victory following a highlight reel sixth-round knockout of Lucas Browne. However, as good as Whyte looked, he may have been flattered a little as the inactive Browne looked very slow and sluggish, carrying an extra 14lb than in his victory over Ruslan Chagaev two years earlier.
Prior to that effort, the Brixton native looked one-paced in his uneventful points win over Robert Helenius and 10 months earlier scraped by on the cards in an all-out war with Dereck Chisora, who Parker would be expected to beat comfortably.
Parker's last two fights have now been on these shores so coming to the UK is no concern and he has more top-level experience than his older opponent, having won and twice successfully defended the WBO strap and then fought in front of 80,000 in Cardiff last time out.
Both Parker and Whyte are made of sturdy stuff and it looks highly likely that the judges will be called upon, as has been the case in each of Parker's last four fights. In fact, Parker has never been dropped as a professional or in the amateurs, and, reportedly, not even in sparring.
- Dillian Whyte to be knocked down and win the fight Was 7/1 NOW 14/1
- Joseph Parker to win by TKO/KO in Rounds 3-6 Was 8/1 NOW 16/1
- Both fighters to be knocked down Was 12/1 NOW 24/1
This could be well become a battle of the jabs and Parker may have the edge in that department judged on his latest outing, his first since elbow surgery and it certainly had the desired effect. Another notable improvement from Parker in the Joshua fight was his defence, as he was much more elusive and there is every chance that the 26-year-old is still improving. He has been known to carry his right hand low and cannot afford to do so here, as Whyte's money punch is his vicious left hook, but Parker and his team will be fully aware of this.
It will be Whyte's fight if he can drag the visitor into a tear-up, but Parker should be too experienced for that and I see the younger man boxing his way to a decision at 8/5.
Barring punch power, it is hard to see what Whyte does better than Parker and, perhaps crucially, the former champion looks to have the superior speed of hand and foot. This can enable him to 'be first' more often than not and land those scoring shots that catch the eyes of the judges.
Two of their former foes provide chief support as Chisora and Carlos Takam engage in what should be a fun crossroads fight.
This is the latter's reward for a gutsy showing against Joshua eight months ago when the challenger believed he was halted prematurely in the 10th round, showing he is not quite damaged goods yet. Chisora, on the other hand, looked precisely that when outpointed by Agit Kabayel in November in career loss number eight and there is plenty of mileage on that clock now.
Similar in size, they both like to come forward and can take a good shot, so we look set for 12 rounds of good action here, with the sharper and cleaner work of Takam earning him a decision at 5/4.