There will be many questions asked about Joseph Parker's qualities after this second professional loss of his career, and the first might be "is he just too nice to be in this game?"

Parker, 26, a proud Samoan-Kiwi, is accommodating and cheerful. He's funny. He does not appear to have the edge of a Dillian Whyte or an Anthony Joshua or a Deontay Wilder; all heavyweights with a true mean streak.

But the answer to the above is, in my opinion, no. Parker is nice – one of the nicest professional athletes this country possesses – but he has a ruthless side too.


More relevant questions might be – how and why did he go from being defensively sound but offensively weak against Anthony Joshua, to loading up the right hand and being aggressive from the start against Dillian Whyte but defensively poor? Were his tactics right?

He said he didn't follow the game plan and he took an enormous amount of punishment against Whyte. His face was heavily marked and his head and body will be sore. This is written with the benefit of hindsight, but a day before the fight heavyweight rival Dereck Chisora popped his head into the team bus and told Parker to move for the first six rounds and get Whyte to play "catch-up". "That's your game, bro," Chisora said, but Parker wanted to go in a different direction.

He wanted to engage and while he scored points in the first round, and was unlucky in the second with that headbutt, it put him within Whyte's range.

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At the O2 Arena he was hit more than in any other fight he has been in, when a safer strategy would have been a mixture of the two – attack and defence – although of course that's easy to say after the event by a person who wasn't in the ring.

"He was putting his combinations together really well but he was standing in front of him after and Dillian's counters were easy to land," trainer Kevin Barry said. "Joe was allowing him to land those body shots in the early rounds which is something we worked on."

This is a tough old sport in every respect, and Parker's defeat probably highlights what an achievement it was to become the WBO world heavyweight champion. The stars aligned for him there – they haven't recently against Joshua and Whyte. Will they ever again?

Parker could have big fights ahead but to be successful he probably needs to find a little more power. Does he have one-punch knockout power against elite opposition? Probably not. He hurt Whyte at last, but he couldn't hurt Joshua or Hughie Fury or Razvan Cojanu. His next opponent will have to be chosen with caution, but that puts pressure on David Higgins too as an opponent with an appearance of weakness won't be easy to sell.