Former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker overcame a knockdown after just seven seconds to pip Dereck Chisora via a split decision at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday night.
Scores were 116-111 and 115-113 for Parker, overruling a 115-113 vote for Chisora. The last two cards seemed to overlook Chisora’s opening round knockdown.
The Londoner dropped Parker with an immediate, overhand right and seized early control. Indeed, Chisora dominated the initial rounds with his feverish aggression, backing the Kiwi to the ropes before a craftier Parker took over at the midway point. Chisora tired demonstrably after his earlier efforts, but the bout seemed in the balance after the final bell.
“I am feeling it,” Parker told Matchroom afterwards. “Dereck landed a lot of shots on me. I’ll probably feel it more tomorrow. The plan was to come out and box smartly and stay focused. I got caught right at the beginning. I think it was round the back of the head, I didn’t see it.
“The plan was to box and move and be smart. With the guidance of Andy [Lee], I was able to box. We didn’t have the longest time together. I know I needed a lot of work. I need to keep learning from Andy and practicing the things we work on in the gym.
“It was a tough fight and I got caught right at the beginning. I just had to dig deep and stay focused and follow the plan that we had in place. Swayed off a bit, but Derek is a very tough opponent. He came forward, put pressure on me from the beginning. Threw big bombs and landed a lot.
“The boxing skills won me some rounds towards the end. It was a very close fight. I thought it could go either way, and I’m very thankful and blessed to get the win today. He brought the smoke. If you want to feel it, jump in the ring with him.
“It’s very achievable [another world title fight]. I just have to get back to the training. There’s a lot of things I have to work on. I had a good plan in place. There’s still a lot I can show, I just have to keep working with Andy, and more camps ahead. We could do it next fight.”
A disgruntled Chisora added: “I’m beyond getting upset now. It’s difficult because I train hard, I fight, I put the pressure on, I bring everything and this is the treatment I get from boxing. My last fight was the same thing again, this fight was the same thing again. I think they don’t like me. I can’t get upset because it is just horrible.
“If Joseph wants to give me a rematch, I’ll take the rematch – easy. I won the fight. Even his coach, Andy Lee, said I won the fight. I will not let them slow me down, we will go again. They want to see me retire but I will not retire yet.”
Almost nine years since they met in the London 2012 Olympic quarter finals, Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas served up a classic in the pros, with the Irishwoman retaining her undisputed lightweight crowns via a wafer-thin decision.
Scores were 96-95 (twice) and 96-94.
Taylor’s fast hands stole an early march before the bombs of Jonas broke through and sparked a memorable see-saw battle. Taylor’s championship mettle eventually shone through as she dug deep in the final two rounds to clinch victory.
“Again, it was probably a bit too exciting for my liking,” Taylor told Matchroom. “It was definitely a toe-to-toe battle in there. I thought I was a bit flat early on, but I dug deep to win the championship rounds. I definitely showed the heart of a champion in there and that’s what won me the fight in the end.
“She showed everything it takes to win a world title in her last two performances. Tonight was a brilliant showcase for women’s boxing and boxing overall. Every time we fought as amateurs it was that type of fight as well. I’d prepared for a hard 10-round battle tonight and that’s exactly what it was.
“Eddie was saying that fight would have brought the PPV sales up a small bit. That’s obviously a great start. I feel sorry for the main event coming out after that fight. It was a thrilling fight. I’m just delighted to come out of it with the belts and still undefeated. 18-0, onwards and upwards. This is what I’m in the sport for, I want to be involved in the biggest fights. There’s plenty of those fights out there for me.”
Jonas added: “I knew it was close, I knew I had to put it in. I said that every time I have to step up, I do. When she is willing and ready, I will do a trilogy. I feel I belong at this level and I want to stay at it. I want to win belts, I want to win championships, I want to be a champion.”
WBA Super 175lbs champion Dmitry Bivol appeared to canter to a clear points victory, only to squeak by on a close unanimous decision against Londoner Craig Richards.
Scores were a realistic 118-110 before two eye-rubbing cards of 115-113 and 115-114. As a result, Bivol was just one round away from a curious draw. Fortunately, the right man won, but any visiting world champion defending their crown in the UK at the moment probably does so at their peril.
In an often tactical affair, Bivol’s stiff jab, superior schooling, combinations and accuracy dictated the flow of the fight. The plucky Richards had his moments, but Bivol (18-0, 11 KOs) always paid him back soon afterwards with an extra burst of violence. A left-right salvo from Bivol knocked Richards (16-2-1, 9 KOs) back on his heels in the 11th, but he couldn’t put the gutsy challenger away.
“I’m not happy but I’m okay,” Bivol told Matchroom. “It was a long rest for me and I went into the ring after one and a half years. It’s fine. My opponent was a good fighter, really good. He’s smart and he thinks. He was thinking for the whole fight.
“It’s okay. I was feeling that I’d won. I gave him a couple of rounds for recovery. I landed more clean punches. I respect him and I respected him before the fight. I think he can make problems for all fighters because of his style.
“He moved a lot. Fighters who move a lot and have good speed are really hard. He is a good fighter, but I have more weapons in my arsenal. I’m glad I have had another defence. Of course, I want unification fights. I still want them. I haven’t had a chance to fight for another belt, this is why I defend my belt.
“I’d like to fight for another belt, it would be a good challenge for me. I believe I can become the undisputed world champion one day, this is why I train, that’s why I have a good team. I believe one day I will be if I train hard. Thanks to everyone who supports me and watched this fight.”
Middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jr looked like he could have stopped Manchester’s Marcus Morrison in the second, but stepped back to apparently bank some much-needed rounds after a 17-month hiatus, winning clearly on points. All three cards were 98-92.
Eubank (30-2, 22 KOs) began to batter Morrison with impunity in the middle rounds, swelling the Mancunian’s features and busting his nose. In the sixth, Eubank hammered Morrison (23-4, 16 KOs) on the ropes and the end seemed nigh. But the Manchester man hung in there and traded freely in the closing exchanges to see the final bell.
“My last fight lasted two rounds, so really it’s been two years since I had a 12-round fight,” Eubank told Matchroom. “There was definitely some ring rust, and there was definitely some getting back into the swing of things. I had him hurt bad in the second round. I backed off. I wanted him to recover so that I could be seen again.
“I’m back on TV, I’m back fighting, this is my home. This is my life; this is what I do. I wanted to go the distance and get those rounds in. I’m happy with the performance. I followed instruction; he was telling me to do things in the corner and I went out there and did it. That’s kind of alien to me. Usually most of my career has been dependent on what I want to do, my instincts and my reaction. But now we have a head coach in Roy Jones Jr and I full trust him. I’m happy to be paired with him.
“This is the beginning of a long and great journey for me. I want to be very active this year, I want to fight at least twice more. This is a good start. Full credit to Marcus. I’ve hit guys with shots like that and they’ve gone. He kept coming. A lot of respect for Marcus. There’s a lot of world champions in the middleweight division. There’s a lot of big names out there for me to go and fight. Golovkin is the end goal, and anyone with a world title. I’m coming, they’re all on the radar.”
Mexican underdog Jovanni Straffon (24-3-1, 16 KOs) stunned Belfast’s James Tennyson (28-4, 24 KOs) in just 130 seconds to claim the vacant IBO lightweight crown in a big surprise.
The duo traded blows in the opener but surprisingly the southpaw visitor held the heavier hands. A left hand buzzed Tennyson early and he chose to fight fire with fire. But he paid for his bravado, tasting the canvas after a thudding right-left combination.
Tennyson staggered up at the third attempt, but after the action resumed Straffon hammered him on the ropes, forcing referee Michael Alexander’s intervention.
“I dreamed about this several years ago,” Straffon told Matchroom. “I know I was up against everything. I knew he was a very strong fighter. He called himself ‘The Assassin’, but he was assassinated. He punches hard, but nothing punches harder than life.
“It has been a very good year for Mexican boxing. There has been lots of surprises and upsets. I’m not really surprised about what happened. I have been well prepared for a year. I knew I was the big underdog but now I’m the winner.
“I would really like the opportunity to work with Eddie Hearn. I would like to thank my manager and promoter. I hope some really good things are coming my way. I believe I just won an opportunity to get some of the tough and big names out there. Don’t give up on anything, always keep on dreaming because dreams do come true.”
Earlier, Preston’s former British super-welterweight champion Scott Fitzgerald, weighing closer to light-heavy, halted Frenchman Gregory Trenel in three and Romford heavy Johnny Fisher stopped Phil Williams, also in the third. Lightweight Campbell Hatton (2-0, 0 KOs) handily outpointed Levi Dunn (0-4, 0 KOs) over four. Referee Steve Gray scored 40-36.
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.