Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte (24-1, 17 KOs) got help from a questionable 2nd round head-butt knockdown to defeat Joseph Parker (24-2, 18 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision to win their fight on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London, UK.
Whyte was knockdown in the 12th and looked to be on the verge of being stopped in the last 20 seconds. Parker rocked Whyte badly with a right hand to the head that put him down. Whyte got back up, but he looked in bad shape in the final seconds of the fight. Earlier in the fight, Whyte had knocked Parker down in rounds 2 and 9. Those two knockdowns made the difference in the fight.
The scores were 113-112, 115-110, and 114-111. The fight was one that was marred by the controversial knockdown in the 2nd round, and by the referee not taking more of an assertive role in controlling the fouling being done by Whyte. Parker appeared to win eight of the twelve rounds.
Parker dominated round one and two. However, in the 2nd round, Whyte head-butted Parker hard, causing him to fall down. The referee Ian John Lewis didn’t spot the head-butt, so he gave Whyte credit for a knockdown. Parker looked hurt from the head-butt and it’s unclear whether it affected his performance in the subsequent rounds.
Whyte fought better after round two, and seemed to his best rounds of the fight from the confidence he got after the bogus knockdown.
In the 9th, Whyte dropped Parker with a hard left hook to the head. Parker got up and was able to continue fighting.
The victory for WBC #1, WBO #2, WBA #7 Whyte keeps him in the running for a rematch with IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London. Tonight’s Whyte-Parker fight had a huge bearing on picking a potential opponent for Joshua next April. Whyte’s win technically keeps him in the hunt for the rematch with Joshua, but his promoter Eddie Hearn might not want to make that fight. Whyte needed a more conclusive victory than this.
Parker fought passively during many of the rounds, which is perhaps why the judges gave Whyte the fight. Parker had the hand speed and talent advantage, but he fought like he was timid and afraid of using his skills. It wasn’t until the 10th round that Parker started fighting aggressively and dominating Whyte. It was a different Parker when he started fighting with a sense of urgency in the last three rounds of the fight. Despite fighting like he wasn’t interested in many of the rounds, Parker finished strong and looked like the better fighter at the end.