(NICK PARKINSON, ESPN)
Joshua earns 3rd belt by defeating ParkerHeavyweight Anthony Joshua improves to 21-0 with a unanimous-decision victory against Joseph Parker in front of 78,000 fans at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
CARDIFF, WALES — Anthony Joshua won a third world heavyweight title belt but lost his 100 percent knockout record, as he was forced to points by Joseph Parker on Saturday.
Joshua had to rely on the judges for the first time in his professional career, as he triumphed by scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 after a fight that had its moments but no knockdowns.
Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) added Parker’s WBO belt to his IBF and WBA titles, maintaining his status as the world heavyweight No. 1 and fulfilling what most expected would happen in front of 78,000 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
But most also thought he would win by knockout, as he had in his previous 20 professional fights.
Parker’s movement foiled Joshua in his pursuit of a knockout, but the New Zealander did not land enough to win the rounds.
Anthony Joshua added Joseph Parker’s WBO belt to his IBF and WBA titles, maintaining his status as the world heavyweight No. 1. He now awaits a clash with American Deontay Wilder, who owns the WBC belt.AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Nevertheless, Joshua moved a step closer to completing his goal of becoming the undisputed world heavyweight champion.
“My strategy in there was to stick behind the jab,” Joshua said. “A right hand will take you around the block, but a good jab will take you around the world. I stuck behind the jab. I was focused. I controlled him behind the jab, and the main thing is I am the unified champion of the world. I thought it was hard, but going the 12 rounds was light work.”
Lighter was not necessarily better for Joshua, who weighed in nearly 14 pounds less than for his last fight against Carlos Takam. There were some rocky moments at times for Joshua, and both fighters looked hurt after an exchange at the end of the 11th round.
The Englishman triumphed in the first three-belt world heavyweight title unification fight in seven years. Only one title — the WBC — is currently not in his possession.
Boxing has never had a four-belt world heavyweight champion, and a clash with American Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), the WBC king, is now the sport’s most in-demand fight.
If it comes together, the fight might not happen until next year. Joshua might have to fulfill a mandatory defense against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, also triumphant on the same bill, to keep hold of all the belts before facing Wilder