Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Patrick McKendry: In defence of Joseph Parker's power


One of the fascinating things about boxing is the way it polarises people - not just those for and against this brutal sport, but also those for and against different fighters.

The never-ending arguments are all part of the appeal and part of the hype, so, in that vein, here's another one: Those who are basing their opinions of Joseph Parker's apparent lack of power on the strength of his victory over Carlos Takam have got it wrong.

First, look at Takam's record. Of his 36 professional fights, he has been knocked out only once - against an elite fighter in Alexander Povetkin two years ago in Russia. The knockout occurred late in the fight.

Povetkin has recently tested positive for Meldonium, a performance-enhancing drug which is illegal now but was legal in 2014. One of the benefits of the drug is that it improves aerobic capacity. Takam faded in that bout, Povetkin, a man who has fought 31 times as a professional and has lost only once - to Wladimir Klitschko - improved.

So, Takam is tough and he is experienced. That got him through 12 rounds against Parker. He can take a punch, but just as importantly, he can block them, slip them, hide behind his left shoulder, chin tucked in and protected from an orthodox opponent's right hand. Crucially, he can also throw them, and from distance.

He combined those abilities superbly in the eighth round in Manukau on Saturday when Parker launched his assault which would have finished many other fighters. The 24-year-old Parker threw 30 punches in 17 seconds. Watch and count them - it's actually hard to keep track of them all. Trainer Kevin Barry later revealed to the Herald that Parker was counting them in his head to the tune of "one, two, three, four to the head..." but his fighter admitted afterwards that he should have gone to the body as well in order to lower Takam's hands for potentially cleaner shots.

In other words, there was ample power to finish the job, but Parker perhaps didn't harness it properly.

Second, who are we comparing Parker's power to? Anthony Joshua? The Englishman, the current holder of the IBF heavyweight belt for which Parker is now the mandatory challenger, is perhaps more powerful than Parker, I will concede that. He is certainly bigger and he has won all 16 of his fights by stoppage - those are undisputable facts.

But he has never been put under sustained pressure in his career. Compatriot Dillian Whyte hurt him with one punch in their fight last year, but couldn't follow it up and was stopped himself. It's hard to throw power punches when you're being hit - a truism to match Mike Tyson's infamous "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth".

Everyone also looks powerful hitting punching bags. And there's slow power and fast power - which has Joshua got? Are his punches easy to see coming? Is his sculpted body (and chin) vulnerable against a fighter able to deliver fast, accurate punches? We might find out in London in around six months.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby writer Patrick McKendry began his journalism career 20 years ago and has worked in newspapers in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He worked in a communications role on his return here before joining APN before the 2011 World Cup.

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