Joseph Parker edges Hughie Fury to keep heavyweight belt in dour encounter
Champion retains title with majority decision
Joseph Parker beat Hughie Fury by a majority points decision to retain his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) heavyweight title at the Manchester Arena on Saturday.
The New Zealander endured a frustrating night and did not look confident ahead of the scores being announced, but the judges scored it to Parker by 118-110, 118-110 with the other seeing it a 114-114 draw.
Mandatory challenger Fury, 23 last Monday, suffered his professional first defeat in 21 fights while a second title defence for Parker improved his undefeated record to 24 wins, 18 by KO.
After a scrappy fight, two judges scoring it 10 rounds to two for Parker seemed generous as the Kiwi had not seriously troubled the challenger.
“I feel I won the fight, he put up a great fight,” said Parker.
“I felt the aggression was good on my side. He was really awkward and his movement was good. But I caught him with the harder punches, I felt.”
Fury boxed smartly in his first world title fight and his jab, along with his nifty footwork, frustrated Parker who was unable to land cleanly.
“I don’t know what happened there with the judges,” said Fury.
Parker kept chasing and had more success in the second half of the fight to secure the win that keeps him in contention for bigger fights next year, possibly against Fury’s fellow Briton Anthony Joshua.
A lot of the rounds were close, with few clean and powerful punches landed, but it was Fury’s movement and flicking jab that gave the champion problems in the first six rounds especially.
It was the first boxing event at the Manchester Arena since 22 people were killed by a terror attack after a pop concert in May.
The venue was only opened earlier this month and Fury had hoped to dedicate victory to the victims.
Fury is the cousin of Tyson Fury, who won the WBO, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles by pulling off a shock points win over Wladimir Klitschko in Germany in November 2015.
Tyson, who has not fought since and is no longer a champion, was ringside.
In the third, Parker stalked Fury without much success and was caught by a right at close range on the ropes.
Parker was better in the fifth and landed a few right hands but he could not land his big punches cleanly and Fury, behind his fast jab, was able to respond in the sixth with an eye-catching right uppercut.
Parker opened up a bit more in the eighth round and stepped up the pace in the ninth when a flurry of punches and an overhand right found the target.
Fury was content to stay behind his jab in the 10th which interrupted Parker’s momentum and in the last round he came out swinging.
Parker landed a big right early in the 12th and then another big right over the top for a strong finish.
But it was Fury’s corner who thought they had won the fight at the final bell.