16 Dec 2018

Boxing: Ouch, Joe Parker takes the low road

6:25 am on 16 December 2018

Opinion - The main talking point leading up to Joseph Parker's fight against Alexander Flores was how motivated he was to return to potentially challenging for a world heavyweight title again. His hunger, desire and most of all, aggression - did he have it in him?

Joseph Parker versus USA's Alexander Flores.

Joseph Parker versus USA's Alexander Flores. Photo: Photosport

Well, he certainly answered the last part in last night's third round knockout, because you have to be one cold blooded fighter to go about winning a fight by punching the other guy in the balls.

Yes, this is the same Joseph Parker we're talking about. The seemingly mild-mannered, humble kid from South Auckland employed the most ruthless tactic in the book of boxing tricks to get his career going again. A punch to Flores' nether-regions was the turning point in a bout that Parker would have presumably won anyway, as it caused the American to drop his guard and eat a left hook that saw him knocked down for an eight count.

As soon as he was back on his feet, Parker went in for the kill. A dozen shots to the head gave Flores no chance of making the end of the round, sending him crashing to the edge of the ring and handing him a free opportunity to have a good look at Horncastle Arena's ceiling.

There's no doubt about it, that was one dirty, literally low way to win - and because a win tonight was so crucially important to Parker's career, you have to admire the ruthless way he went about it. Despite Kiwis often wrongly assuming we're only ever the victims of cheating in sports, last night was a case in point of a win gained by a man who set out to bend the rules from the opening bell.

Parker even doubled down on his newfound heelish nature in the interview afterwards, shifting the blame to the officials for not doing their job.

It was quite a feat just for Parker to come out of the fight card as the main talking point. After all, we'd already seen former Warriors legend Manu Vatuvei score a first round knockout, then Junior Fa underlined his potential with a quick stoppage of his own.

While the hype around Vatuvei will be about him potentially fighting Paul Gallen in the future, Fa is the one that could enjoy a serious path to stardom if things continue to go his way. While his Argentine opponent wasn't up to much (his corner threw in the towel before he even hit the deck due to a punch from Fa, this sort of exposure will have people talking about a possible all-New Zealand heavyweight title fight between him and Parker.

In all, it was an entertaining night of boxing. The undercard played its part and while the main event only went just a shade under three rounds, Parker's commitment to heading below the equator will have plenty of people talking about him too.

Because that's what the fight game needs. Parker was always going to win last night, it was just a matter of how. The knockout itself was one for the highlight reels, and will have people talking about the sort of power that he can summon when he needs to. Now it's up to his team to plot a course for him to get back amongst the contenders.

If he is to continue with this cartoonish role as a villain though (albeit a 6'4" cartoonish villain who has a propensity to try and demolish your testicles), then Parker may end up finding himself the subject of more than a little attention he may not be after.

But, like he said himself last night post-fight: "that's the fight game".

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