Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Joseph Parker on Joshua v Klitschko - 'I could land combos on either'

As Anthony Joshua entered the ring in the middle of Wembley Stadium for what turned out to be an epic heavyweight victory over Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker was about 18,000km away eating a cooked breakfast in an Auckland bar surrounded by friends, family, and several hundred curious patrons.

He watched, with trainer Kevin Barry alongside, as Joshua knocked down Klitschko in the fifth round and then as the Ukrainian veteran returned the favour in the sixth - two rounds of elite heavyweight boxing which must be among the best witnessed in decades - before giving his verdict to the Herald which, boiled down, was "great fight, but Klitschko missed his opportunity".

For WBO world heavyweight champion Parker this was an almost perfect result. Although the 41-year-old Klitschko re-invented himself for this fight, his first in fully 18 months, a victory for the former champion probably would not have been great for the 25-year-old New Zealander.

Klitschko, who had perfected a "jab and grab" defensive style unique to himself, attacked in the ring more than he has in years, but a win would probably have put the IBF title further from Parker's grasp.

Instead, with 27-year-old Joshua retaining it in a gutsy display and keen to fight all-comers, Parker remains in the game. In front of a delirious crowd of 90,000, the Briton called out countryman Tyson Fury afterwards, and there could be an equally lucrative re-match with Klitschko, but Parker should still get a shot in the short to medium term provided he gets past Razvan Cojanu in Manukau on Saturday, as expected.

Parker, already aware of Joshua's power, saw more examples of it this morning, particularly when Joshua attacked in flurries. Klitschko, hurt by a right uppercut in the 11th round, went down, and then down again after a Joshua onslaught. A third on the ropes prompted American referee David Fields to stop the fight.

But Parker also saw vulnerabilities, particularly Joshua's habit of throwing only one punch at a time and standing square on, waiting for a reply.

Parker said: "I want to get in the ring. When you're watching, you want to fight too. Kev and I were excited about it and were picturing combos that we could land on both of them."


He later sent a congratulatory message to Joshua on social media.


Barry said: "Joe's movement will give him [Joshua] fits. Joshua, one punch at a time, oh my goodness. He was there to be hit by Klitschko.

"As a coach I envisaged Joe doing what he is good at and him landing against both guys."

Both thought Joshua, gassed from his attack in the fifth round and knocked down in the sixth with a beautiful right hand from Klitschko, was there for the taking.

"He did look completely gone, and I think ... Klitschko will be very disappointed because the next two rounds I believe Anthony Joshua was a like a dead man walking," Barry said.

"Klitschko let him off the hook, he let him walk around and recover and I remember saying to Joe, 'if he gets past the seventh round this could change things around'.

"I think the fight was there for Klitschko to win, but great character from Joshua. He showed he's still a young guy and still developing - it was a huge step up in class for him and he came away victorious. When you let your hands go you increase your chances of winning."

Klitschko was extremely gracious afterwards, saying Joshua was too good on the day. Far from a spent force, he looked fit and full of movement and attacking instincts, and his defensive class was obvious. But in the end Joshua's power was too much.

Barry, who oversaw two sparring sessions between Parker and Klitschko in Florida in 2014, said: "He was fighting for his legacy. He must have thought, 'ok, this is all or nothing'. He looked terrific out there. I'm surprised by how good he looked."

- NZ Herald

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