When the music plays and young Samoan Joseph Parker makes his walk out to the ring in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in Wales on Saturday night to put his WBO Heavyweight Championship Belt on the line against Anthony Joshua’s WBA and IBF Championship Belts he will be focused on the task at hand. Neither Parker or most boxing fans will have names like Corey Sanders, Hasim Rahman, or Max Schmeling on their minds. But hopefully after the dust settles between the low-key Heavyweight Title fight between Parker and Joshua his name will be read in the same flavor as the above Heavyweights (and Buster Douglas) who pulled off major upsets against heavily favored crowd favorites.
To say that the young Polynesian is being brought in to lose is a vast understatement. A quick tutorial on how betting odds work. When you see a “-” number you are looking at how much money you would have to bet to make $100. So a fighter that is favored at -500 would be a pretty heavily favored fighter. You would need to bet $500 on him to win in order to get the casino to payout $100 in winnings.
A fairly recent example of a heavily favored fighter was last year’s mega fight between MMA Champion Conor McGregor and unbeaten multi-weight boxing Champion Floyd Mayweather. The odds on Mayweather to win was -400 at fight time. Conor had never had a SINGLE professional boxing match and was a -400 underdog.
Parker comes into the fight against Joshua with a 24-0 record that includes 18 knockouts. Parker has a 60+ fight amateur career. He is the reigning World Boxing Organization Heavyweight Champion. The oddsmakers have Anthony Joshua a staggering -1,200 favorite to blow out the Kiwi in Wales on Saturday night. Yes, that means you would have to bet one thousand two hundred dollars to win 100 dollars.
Parker welcomes the responsibility that comes with representing two countries (New Zealand and Samoa) and a culture overall. Carrying a High Chief name, Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa, he was given the title La’auli as a sign of respect by the Faleula village paramount chief Loau Keneti Sio. He is a grounded young man that has a tall task in front of him in the unbeaten, highly touted and unbelievably favored Anthony Joshua.
Parker will hope that the power that he had in his hands that seems to have been lost, at least temporarily, from double elbow surgery returns to him in Wales this weekend. He was on a 10 fight run at one point in his career where he won by stoppage in 9 of those 10 fights but then ran into two fights where his power seemed to not be the same culminating in surgery late in 2017. His one fight after surgery was a decision win. Camp Parker is adamant that the power has fully returned for the Joshua fight. He will need to be at full capacity to pull off the upset.
Parker will need to take advantage of his defensive skills to put himself in good positions to do damage to the heavier handed Joshua. The young Samoan will need to take full advantage of maybe his greatest weapon, a jab that former Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes has called “the best jab in the game today”. Parker’s jab can set up opportunities and slow Joshua’s attack down.
All in all the Kiwi that represents an Ocean full of fight fans and multiple island cultures will look to do what the heavyweight boxers named in the beginning of the article did; beat a HEAVILY favored fighter who is probably looking ahead to mega fights and big dollars against better known names.
One of the greatest upsets in Heavyweight History occurred on September 23rd 1926 when Gene Tunney upset the heavily favored and fan favorite Jack Dempsey. Ironically, Joseph Parker’s father’s first name is Dempsey. Yep, you guessed it, he was named after that Jack Dempsey.
The odds are highly stacked against Parker but as Pacific Islanders have become accustomed to, overcoming odds happens often. Joshua is talking about a fight with Deontay Wilder. The press and fans are commenting about Wilder not attending the fight. Vegas says the fight is nearly a foregone conclusion. Parker can seize instant stardom Saturday night; he just needs to bring his A game and stay focused. Mountains similar to this have been scaled by other Heavyweights in the past.