Anthony Joshua beats Joseph Parker on points in Cardiff and now targets Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury

Boxing
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker

Anthony Joshua eased to a points victory over Joseph Parker in a world heavyweight unification fight which failed to live up to expectations.

Joshua successfully defends his WBA and IBF heavyweight titles and now takes Parker's WBO belt - but he will now set his primary sights on WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

Sent off a 1/8 favourite for this showdown between two previously unbeaten fighters, it appeared early on that Joshua held a class advantage to go with height and reach.

But Parker was an awkward, elusive opponent and few serious blows were exchanged as Joshua settled for a unanimous decision, dominating the fight without ever asserting his physical superiority.

It was a 21st professional victory for Joshua and first defeat for Parker, but the Londoner's record of stopping each and every opponent came to an end in a fight which lacked real drama.

Asked about a potential unification showdown with America's Wilder later in the year, the 28-year-old said: "Don't believe the hype about him. People who know me know I don't do that, so we will sit down, my team and Eddie Hearn and then they can can talk to his time and Al Hamon, then we'll see.

"Wilder, let's go baby, let's go!"

Joshua insists he will continue to fight on British soil, saying: "UK and British boxing is the best and are on the map representing not just this division but we go down to the lower weight and we are representing.

"All the time people used to have to go out to America to watch it, they don't need to anymore. They can come to Cardiff, or Wembley. We will stay here."

Joshua later told Sky Sports he'd also be keen on a fight with British rival Tyson Fury, who hasn't fought since defeating to unify the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles way back in 2015.

In this latest fight against Parker, Joshua picked his shots from the centre of the ring as the New Zealander searched for his, and dominated the opening stanzas against an opponent who was struggling to find his range.

But in the fifth and more notably in the sixth, a smiling Parker upped the tempo and the pair began to trade blows, Parker's now finding their target as his movement proved hard for the Londoner to predict.

Edging closer on the scorecard, Parker avoided a vicious uppercut in the seventh just as referee Giuseppe Quartarone had demanded the fighters break, and the early notion that he would prove cannon fodder for Joshua was beginning to fade.

Joshua came out with a greater intensity in the eighth, stinging the face of his opponent with a series of left-hand jabs, but neither fighter was able to land a serious blow in a stop-start bout which lacked the fireworks of the undercard.

That changed when a low left-hand from Joshua appeared to hurt Parker towards the end of the round but with referee Quartarone breaking the fighters whenever they got close, Parker was able to recover heading into the ninth.

The fight had now returned to its earlier pattern, Parker struggling to connect while Joshua controlled things from the centre of the ring, and the home fighter was well ahead on the cards at the end of a disjointed ninth round.

Joshua landed early in the 10th, forcing a cut above the left eye of his opponent, but his attempts to end the fight with an uppercut missed their target as a disappointing fight moved into its final stages.

Never having been beyond the 11th, Joshua again searched for a meaningful blow but Parker was able to counter under pressure and still didn't look to have been seriously hurt as the pair headed back to their respective corners for the final time.

Joshua finished the fight on the front foot, coping with the demands of 12 rounds, but for once unable to stop the man opposite.

Joshua told Sky Sports: "My strategy was to stick behind the jab. I was switched on and I was focused, Joseph Parker is a world champion and I said this was about boxing finesse.

"What you can't forget is that I am the unified heavyweight champion of the world."

Anthony Joshua with his growing collection of belts
Anthony Joshua with his growing collection of belts

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