Just like the middle child or the last pick for the dodgeball game, WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker finds himself in a very precarious position as the forgotten heavyweight champion. Often overlooked, undervalued and disregarded, Joseph Parker is not as revered as his champion counterparts Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder. Even non titleholders such as Kubrat Pulev and Jarell Miller generate more buzz than Parker. With Joshua having defeated Carlos Takam by 10th round stoppage and Wilder set to rematch Bermane Stiverne on November 4th. The world is already beating the drums for a Wilder vs Joshua showdown. Both fighters seem to want the fight as well. However there is no real mention of Joseph Parker. His last fight was a majority decsion victory over Hughie Fury. What can Parker do to raise his profile and secure a big fight?
Joseph Parker is one of the most criticized heavyweights in recent memory. Despite being an undefeated heavyweight with a 75 percent knock out ratio and blazing hand speed, Parker is often labeled as fighting “safe” or being “passive”, especially in his biggest fights. Many fans believe he lost his WBO title match against Andy Ruiz. That fight was one in which Parker started very slowly but came on strong as the fight went on. Parker recieved even more crticism for his title defense. A unanimous decision victory over Razvan Cojanu of Romania. In a relatively tame affair Parker again won by unanimous decision. That fight was marred by fouls and taunting. Parker admitted that Cojanu’s style gave him trouble. The media was however unispired by his performance. Even fellow boxers Dillian Whyte and cruiserweight Champion Tony Bellew were both very critical of Parker’s performance and both men challenged him to fight.
Parker’s resume is a little suspect as well. He has the makings of a somewhat protected fighter. 21 out of his 24 fights have taken place in either Samoa or New Zealand. However Parker did travel to Manchester for his title defense against Hughie Fury. His opposition hasn’t been sterling either. Outside of Fury or Andy Ruiz you would be hardpressed to find a “name” opponent on his ledger. Kali Meehan, Afa Tatupu and Jason Bergman aren’t exactly needle movers. Parker did defeat Carlos Takam by decision in May of 2016. However Anthony Joshua just stopped Takam and had a much more entertaining fight with Takam. Also there were reports that Parker’s camp twice rejected the Takam fight because of the danger it presented. Also Paker’s next challenger is reported to be WBO#7 ranked heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto. Again Fujimoto is not exactly a marqee name. Fujimoto’s biggest win came against Nobuhiro Ishida. The same man who once competed at 154 pounds.
With all that said, however, the road to prominence is actually very simple for Parker. He needs a signature win. After getting his voluntary defense out of the way he should take the best available contender. Jarell Miller, Luis Ortiz, David Haye, Dillian Whyte, or Dominic Breazeale would all make great matches and represent his biggest challenge to date. After that Parker needs to challenge the winner or Joshua vs Wilder. He can stake his claim as the best heavyweight in the world and become the last undispued heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis. Parker appears to be a very careful and thoughtful young man. If Parker is willing to take a few chances the blueprint is there from to go from midcard act to center stage.