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

Joseph Parker camp brush off controversial finish to fight

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker knocks down Russia's Alexander Dimitrenko. Photo / Andrew Cornaga.
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker knocks down Russia's Alexander Dimitrenko. Photo / Andrew Cornaga.

Joseph Parker's camp have brushed off the controversy caused by their Kiwi heavyweight hitting his opponent Alexander Dimitrenko while he was down, saying the fight was all but over in the first round and that the victory is the perfect preparation for a potential world title bout.

But an angry Dimitrenko plans to protest the controversial loss claiming he was pushed down in the third round and then hit while he had one knee on the canvas.

Parker's victory by TKO in the third round came after he floored Dimitrenko in the first round and twice in the second. However, it could have resulted in a disqualification given the right-hand power shot to the body which finished it struck Dimitrenko while he had a knee on the canvas.

In the unlikely event that Dimitrenko is succesful with the appeal, the fight could be recorded as a "no-contest," giving no boxer a win or loss.

Parker was accused of a similar act by American Jason Pettaway in the stoppage at the same venue in March last year.

"I am angry because I was down with my knee on the ground and he hit me. He pushed me (down) and then he hit me," Dimitrenko told media.

"I didn't see this punch. If you don't see the punch, it is even more dangerous.

"Of course I am angry and I told this to the referee. He told me 'I didn't see, sorry, it's OK'.

"I will (protest). The supervisor is here and I will do this (protest), it is my right. I'm disappointed the way the fight ended."

The 24-year-old Parker, who extended his undefeated professional record to 21 victories, said he was unaware that Dimitrenko was on a knee, and trainer Kevin Barry also gave it short shrift, saying of the punch which ended it: "Which one? Because I think he was finished when he knocked him down in the first round. For me it was the end of the fight and it was just a matter of matter of time.

"I said to Joe after the first round, 'this guy will keep trying, you have to keep beating him down' but I felt comfortable after that first knockdown that the fight was ours."

Parker, who looked as sharp as he ever has in completely dismantling Dimitrenko at Manukau's Vodafone Events Centre, is now likely to fight either Anthony Joshua for his IBF title in November or Andy Ruiz Junior for what his promoters are assuming will be the vacant WBO title in New Zealand this summer.

Dean Lonergan said Parker's comprehensive victory would send shockwaves around the heavyweight division.

"That was in my opinion a total destruction in three rounds," Lonergan said.

"That has given us the impetus to go forward and secure the world title fight as soon as we possibly can. On that performance, I've got to say Joseph Parker has got to be one dangerous b****** going forward. An unbelievable result."

He added: "I will be fascinated to see if [promoter] Eddie Hearn is as interested in Joseph Parker getting into the ring with Anthony Joshua right now; my gut feel is he probably won't be."

Parker said: "As soon as I knocked him down I knew I had him.

"It gives me a lot of confidence. My confidence starting in training camp when I sparred with those big guys and I was able to have good movement and was able to release the combos I was able to release in the gym."

The Parker camp wanted a compelling performance against Dimitrenko for the fact that their man for some reason hasn't been able to transfer the form shown in the gym to the ring on fight night over his past few appearances. A statement-like performance would also show he was ready to face the big men of the division, of which Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko are two. They got it, albeit unfortunately with controversy attached.

"I think it was Joseph's best performance in over a year," Barry said. "You've all heard me saying that I haven't been happy with Joseph's last three performances, including the [Carlos] Takam fight. We had probably our biggest challenge today and Joe had a lot to do.

"What he did tonight, you could tell the spark was back. He actually had some purpose to his punches. He hurt the guy, had him down first round, second round and knocked him out in the third."

Parker, who enjoyed the eight-week camp far more than the 12-week slog before the Takam fight in May, said: "I feel like in the training that we did get the right balance.

We sparred a lot of rounds and with the sparring Kevin was teaching me how to deal with taller opponents... at the end it felt like it was flowing nicely. Tonight it felt like I started to get my groove on and then I just caught him with a nice shot."

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