Joseph Parker v Hughie Fury, unjustly under the radar? Analysis and prediction
By Harry Rowland – This WBO title fight pits two young, hungry, talented and unbeaten heavyweights together for a slice of the currently splintered crown. Yet there has been barely any worldwide anticipation in the build up.
This is mainly because the belt at stake was stripped from the challengers cousin Tyson Fury, and won by Parker in a battle for the vacant title, against untested American Andy Ruiz Jr. With Tyson Fury out of the picture, Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko squared off at the end of April for what most consider to be the lineal title, and the majority of the belts, including the IBF, WBA (Super) and the slowly becoming recognisable IBO.
Parker versus Fury is realistically a fight between two up and coming prospects, with the winner hoping to secure a shot at the recognised number one in the division. Throw in the confusion of a third belt holder; WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who is actually the longest current reigning heavyweight titlist, having held it since January 2015, and racking up five title defences to this point, albeit against B level opposition.
Another reason for the lack of interest, is down to both fighters’ recent performances. Neither have been convincing enough to generate any excitement in the prospect of the winner having much hope in a subsequent unification bout. Parker struggled against both Ruiz and previous foe Carlos Takam, leaving viewers scratching their heads when confronted with the question of exactly how good he is. There is a case to say he lost both encounters. Then last time out Parker gave a lacklustre performance when taken the distance by unheralded Razvan Cojanu, in an ugly fight.
Fury hasn’t been in the ring since April 2016, when he appeared to be struggling to impress against journeyman Fred Kassi, before a cut caused by a clash of heads took it to the scorecards after round 7. Unlike Parker, Fury has beaten all of his opposition convincingly, but it has to be said at a slightly lower level. A points decision over Andriy Rudenko is his best win to date.
It is difficult to accurately assess Fury’s abilities due the mystery caused by a chronicled health condition: acne conglabata, troubling him for most of his career up to this point. Now that this illness has been identified and cured, we should have a better idea of just how good he is based on this outing.
Parkers’ 23-0 (18) attributes are his fast hands and combination punching. He also has a good boxing brain, fighting at a sensible pace, to avoid slowing down over the twelve round distance. At 6’4″ he isn’t a small heavyweight, but in today’s crop of giants at the top level, he is going to be at a height and reach disadvantage against the very best.
Fury 20-0 (10), at 6’6″ and 231 pounds, happens to be one of those giants, at just 23 he also has a 3 year age advantage over the champion. Although Fury doesn’t have the hand speed of his man, he has the more polished footwork, and is also a master counterpuncher with precision timing on his shots.
Parkers best chance is to use his jab to get in range and outwork the challenger with fast combinations on the inside. Fury likes to fight at a slow pace using single shots, so Parker will need to offset him with controlled aggression and a high work rate.
Despite being the shorter man, Parker has the weight advantage coming in at 246 pounds in his last fight. This natural size will help him to be affective inside, if Fury tries to tie him up. With an 78% Knockout ratio he also has the edge in power, but I don’t see this being a factor as Fury is too cute to stand in front of any big shots, and Parkers power has looked less convincing since stepping up in competition.
Fury needs to up his usual pace throwing more combinations and being more aggressive on the front foot. I think Parker’s style will force Fury into a high intensity scrap, and test his heart perhaps for the first time. A title at stake and the risk of losing an unbeaten record for both men, usually brings out something extra.
In an interesting if not entertaining battle, I see the 6 to 5 against betting underdog Fury, dominating behind his superior jab and taking the title with a close points victory, especially now that the the fight is in the challengers home city of Manchester, England.
If Fury can pull off the upset, history will be made as two first cousins have not yet both won bonafide Heavyweight titles. The Klitschko brothers held heavyweight titles both separately and simultaneously, and the Spinks brothers held them separately, but we have not yet seen a cousin duo in the division.