Second time around Joseph Parker left no doubts tonight as to who the better man was in his unexpected rivalry with Dereck Chisora.
Manchester Arena played host to another 12 rounds between the two but this time around the pair delivered an action-packed battle which wasn’t the case seven months ago.
With Parker promising a more aggressive version of himself and Chisora giving off more war vibes during fight week fans were left wondering if this would just be talk. They talked the talk and walked the walk.
From the first bell the New Zealander was much more switched on and displayed glimpses of patterned attacks that would become prevalent throughout the contest.
Chisora came to fight in round two as he pushed Parker back as his bowler overhand right whistled by on a couple of occasions. Parker’s combinations were proof of his superior hand speed that trouble the Brit on more than one occasion. Quick one-twos and greater accuracy were giving Chisora all sorts of problems who appeared heavy legged by round 3.
In the 4th round the away fighter asserted his dominance when another one of his uppercuts forced referee Howard Foster to give Chisora a standing eight count. The last time ‘Del Boy/War’ lost before the halfway stage was nine and a half years ago when enemy turned friend David Haye battered him in five rounds. Parker, however, couldn’t finish the job. As the wobbled Chisora returned to his corner trainer Dave Coldwell urged the veteran heavyweight to keep his shape and retain some discipline.
As Chisora does so often he dug deep and found something during the 60 seconds on the stool to come out in the 5th where his efforts produced punches that were attempting to hit anything.
“Focus, focus.” Coldwell told his charge after a successful three minutes.
The good momentum carried Chisora through round 6 and was performing better when the two men were locked on the inside. Even the jab of Chisora, so often unused and overlooked, rocked Parker during the 7th but still received a count after being dropped in the same session. “Don’t give him any encouragement on the inside,” Parker’s trainer Andy Lee said to his recent new addition. “This is the dark place. The harder he works, work harder.”
The message got home as Parker got back to what he had been doing successfully earlier on. And in round 8 he planted another short uppercut which once again forced Chisora to rely on the ropes to stop him from going down and produced a third count from Howard Foster, but time had again been Chisora’s friend.
A tactic of Chisora’s appeared to be to go after Parker’s body but it was coming too late in the fight with the scorecards, we thought, widening. The 9th produced another valiant effort from the former European champion which did appear to be a last stand. However, when it comes to Dereck Chisora, he appears to go deeper than most to find droplets of energy that somehow spur him on.
The final few rounds showed just how tired both fighters were. Parker appeared fresher and still carried some zip in his shots, but Chisora hung tough, and it was going to take something nuclear to finish the warhorse.
“You’ve won the fight, just got to stay focused now,” Lee told Parker at the end of the 10th.
Clinches were becoming more apparent with six minutes left in the scheduled 12 rounds. Chisora was going to defy everyone, a middle finger to those that continue to write him off and seemed hell bent on hearing the final bell. His legs were slow and looked like they were going through treacle but in his mind, he could still win the fight.
“You’ve been an absolute fucking warrior. I need you to go to war,” Coldwell instructed his soldier before the final round began.
The final 180 seconds of their sequel gave Parker opportunities to let his hands go and whipped in a left hand that earlier in the fight may have caused more damage. Chisora replied with a shake of the head and the 37-year-old even managed to land the last punch of the fight. He was always going to have the last word one way or another.
Sadly, the scorecards did not reflect Parker’s dominance of the fight. 115-110 (Giustino Di Giovanni), 115-111 (Ingo Barrabas) and a head scratching 114-112 from sole British judge Michael Alexander at least ensured the correct hand was raised.
“He was one tough guy.” Parker said of his opponent in the post-fight interview with DAZN’s Chris Lloyd. “He never stopped coming till the end. I felt a lot stronger than the first fight. Followed the game-plan as best I can. Still a lot of improvements to be made.”
Andy Lee spoke of his pride at what Parker had done. “The perfect measuring stick. You can see a lot of improvements from the first fight. He managed the fight perfectly. I’m so proud of him. He’s dedicated himself like he hasn’t done before.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn paid tribute to the beaten man saying, “Dereck Chisora is not human. He deserves so much credit. It’s a massive win for Joseph Parker. Both guys deserve a huge amount of credit. He wants another shot at the title. He’s positioned himself well, maybe a final [IBF] eliminator against [Filip] Hrgovic. He [Parker] continues to chase that second world title.”
A busy undercard saw Jack Cullen come unstuck against the unorthodox but dangerous Kevin Lele Sadjo in their fight for the vacant European super-middleweight title. The long levers of ‘Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver’ were doing their job but a desire to trade shots with his French opponent was proving dangerous as Sodjo rang alarm bells with heavy right hands. The late replacement opponent ended matters in round 6 when a perfectly placed left hand rattled the ribs of Cullen who couldn’t beat referee John Latham’s count.
Zelfa Barrett showed moments of brilliance in his IBF super-featherweight eliminator win against the non-stop work ethic of Bruno Tarimo. The 26-year-old from Tanzania was dropped in round 3 by a terrific left hook that showed how good the local favourite can be. Tarimo never stopped coming forward, but Barrett was too good for the majority and ran out a comfortable winner on points. A world title shot in 2022 is potentially on the cards for Barrett.
Lerrone Richards picked up the biggest win of his career cleverly out-boxing and out-foxing Carlos Gongora. The IBO super-middleweight champion travelled to England to defend his belt for a second time but had little answer for the movement and pick pocketing work of Richards. Despite moments of willingness to prove he could mix it with Gongora in close quarters, leaving himself open to shots, Richards went on to pick up the IBO title having already won British, Commonwealth and European honours.
Elsewhere on the card there were early wins for cruiserweights David Nyika and Jordan Thompson. Rhiannon Dixon and Sandy Ryan maintained their unbeaten starts to their careers too while Alen Babic survived an almighty scare against David Spilmont to win by knockout.