I was so hyped for this fight. It was an intriguing set-up: Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker: the battle of the unbeaten boxers.
The fight had the potential to be a proper nail-biting dust-up but all that was ruined thanks to one man: the referee, Giuseppe Quartarone.
I don’t know if he was channelling infamous football ref Mike Dean, but he was atrocious. He kept stopping any contact between both fighters, even though that is the actual point of this sport, and on the rare occasions when it looked like an actual fight was going to happen, the ref butted in and parted them both like Moses and the Red Sea. There was one moment in the fifth round where the fight got a bit tasty and the crowd were roaring in approval and Quartarone charged in and separated them. Again.
He also made farcical decisions such as halting a fight in the last ten seconds of one round so that Joshua strapped up his glove properly. Never mind that the glove was like that for the previous two minutes and he did not notice. He could have waited until the bell rang at the end of the round but that would have meant using common sense. No wonder Joshua and Parker were so vexed. All the commentators on TV and radio grew more and more irritated by Quartarone’s atrocious officiating – people paid money to watch that fight, only to see him on a one-man mission to destroy a potentially blockbusting bout.
Joshua looked in control for most of the fight. It was not a thrill-a-minute bout like the classic against Klitschko but he got the job done. Parker was an unknown quantity to most Brits but, considering he was unbeaten, we knew that he had a fair amount of quality. The Kiwi is two years younger than Joshua, but had an issue with his elbow which he said had cleared up before the fight, so he’d be fighting ‘at 100%’. Despite his disadvantage height-wise, he fared well but was swinging wild punches at his opponent’s head and never really succeeding in getting a true connection. Plus, every time he got into a groove, that damn referee put a stop to his flow.
Overall, a fight that could have been a cracker fizzled out with a whimper. A dull bout between two quality fighters and an attention-seeking referee.
What’s next? Joshua v Wilder is on the horizon! Now that is going to be one helluva knock-down-drag-out fight. Joshua called out Wilder after his win (“Let’s go, baby, LET’S GO,” he hollered) and said he is ready to roll whenever, so long as the venue is on British shores. Damn right. What a fight that’ll be!
Let’s hope if it does take place in the near future that tonight’s referee isn’t allowed anywhere near it- not even as a spectator.