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BLH Scouting Report: Joseph Parker

Radu's scouting reports come to the front page of BLH with a look at New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker.

Phil Walter/Getty Images

Howdy, folks! Over the past few months we've been having a bit of fun in the Fanpost section with a series we've called Scouting Reports, where we have a look at some of boxing up-and-coming fighters and try to assess their strengths and weaknesses and maybe try to work out whether they're destined for greatness or not.

It's actually been a lot of fun and we figured we might as well bring the party to the main page of Bad Left Hook and see how many windows we can break and how much beer we can chug before the cops and/or USADA show up.

So far we've covered:

Today we'll be having a look at young New Zealand Heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker. In case you're not very familiar with him, Parker is viewed as one of the two biggest hopes of heavyweight boxing, along with Englishman Anthony Joshua, and a bit of rivalry between the two young up-and-coming boxers is beginning to shape up.

Joseph Parker v Bowie Tupou Weigh In Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images

Parker was a good amateur boxer with success mostly at the youth level. After narrowly missing out on qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, he turned pro that same year, he's been keeping busy and he's been making increasing waves with his spectacular knockouts. He has thus far amassed a record of 18-0 with 16 KOs and in a bit of a surprising move, he is in discussions to face World-ranked contender Carlos Takam in an eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger for the Anthony Joshua - Christopher Martin IBF World title bout in London on April 9th. So this means that if Joshua were to defeat Martin (big 'if') and Parker were to defeat Takam (an even bigger 'if'), we could be getting the anticipated Joshua - Parker bout later this year.

So with that in mind, since we've already covered Anthony Joshua a while ago in our Scouting Reports, I've decided to have an in-depth look at some of Parker's most significant bouts to see how he is shaping up as a prospect and also how he compares to Joshua, his possible foe. This is what I've been able to find on Youtube:

Unfortunately I was only able to find highlights of his toughest test to date, a 10-round decision over veteran toughman Sherman 'Tank' Williams in October of 2014, where Parker was forced to go 10 rounds for the first time in his career and also took a few shots along the way but ultimately dominated the action and stayed fresh to the final bell.

Joseph Parker v Sherman Williams Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

So far, when I've done these scouting reports, I have listed all the things I noticed, sorted into several categories, from best to worst:

The Very Best

1) Power. Needless to say, Joseph Parker is easily one of the hardest punchers in all of boxing.

2) Hand speed. For a heavyweight, Parker really does have explosive hands.

The Good

3) Head movement. This doesn't always show up, but Parker can and does often dodge opponents' punches by ducking under or around them. This is particularly hard to teach so it is great that he has it.

4) Punch accuracy. It may be a product of him being patient with his offense, but when he throws, he usually does land and when he lands it's rarely a glancing blow.

5) Ferociousness under fire. This is a fun feature of his. Although it has rarely happened thus far, when an opponent does manage to get inside on him and launch an attack, Parker doesn't cover up, doesn't submit to pressure, he starts firing back for all he's worth, perhaps a little bit like Juan Manuel Marquez but without the accuracy, the leverage and the balance. So close distance on Joseph Parker at your own peril.

The Decent

6) Size. Parker is listed at 6′ 4″ with a 76″ inch reach, which is passable for a modern heavyweight. He is taller than, say, Haye, Povetkin, Glazkov, Stiverne or his upcoming opponent Carlos Takam, but shorter than Charles Martin, Tony Thompson or the really big guys like Klitschko, Joshua and Fury.

7) Jab. The young Kiwi's jab is a major part of his arsenal. It's very quick and he uses it well to close distance and set up his thunder right hand. On the flipside, it's not particularly powerful, it's more of a fencing distraction than a constant tool to overwhelm. It is also better used offensively than defensively.

8) Counterpunching. Once again this shows up rarely as he isn't often under attack, but I think I noticed good natural instincts in improvizing a counterpunch on the spot when under sudden attack.

Joseph Parker v Kali Meehan Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Not So Great But Improving

9) Footwork. Parker is relatively slow on his feet, fights a bit tall and stiff and doesn't always get his step sequence right when exchanging. The improvement I've seen is mostly related to defensive footwork, more precisely stepping back and out of trouble.

10) Conditioning and activity level. There is some reason to be worried about Parker's stamina and conditioning. The more he punches in a round, the heavier he starts breathing. If he is in with an opponent that sits there and takes a lot of punishment, it's not uncommon for Parker to go to his corner at the end of a round visibly winded, even if it's an early round. The good news is that he seems aware he needs to tone down his activity level to avoid punching himself out. In the two bouts that went the longest (Minto and Bergmann), Parker took repeated breaks in the action in most rounds to preserve his stamina. Not a great solution, but at least it shows that he has the problem under control.

11) Timing. Parker has a habit that we've previously seen when we covered Oleksandr Usyk. He seems to be exceedingly picky about his attacks. He wants to get his range, his timing and his accuracy just perfect before lunging, which sounds great but means that he often spends a lot of time not punching, but trying to get a good angle or position. He is very susceptible to not pulling the trigger at all if an opponent doesn't let him set up his offense just the way he likes it.

12) Punch variation.

The Bad

13) Body punching. In his early bouts Parker did not punch to the body at all. In his last bouts a few body punches have started to surface here and there but they are still pretty rare and he doesn't get as much leverage on them as he does on his headshots.

14) Stance. This is not a big problem, but Parker has a fighting position that is, let's say, less than textbook. He is a bit squared up and a bit straight up, his feet are a bit lax and perhaps a bit too close to each other, which is not an ideal position for rapidly moving in or out. His chin is insufficiently hidden behind his shoulder and he slightly leans forward with his head. I think ideally you'd like your front shoulder to be closer to your opponent than your face, and your face should be at the same level with your chest. Not so with Parker, who often keeps his face slightly ahead of his chest and about level with his shoulder.

15) Cutting off the ring. Parker seems to some problems tracking down and cornering fighters that move laterally. Both Minto and Bergmann managed to survive for long stretches because their constant ring circling made Parker at least partially more reluctant to throw against a moving target.

16) Lack of improvement. Compared to other prospects we've covered, the number of areas where he hasn't shown much improvement is significantly higher: he is still badly open to counterpunches, he is just as straight-up as ever, his offensive footwork is uneducated to say the least, his failure to diversify his offense is making him more and more predictable, his conditioning and his body which should be the easiest to improve are progressing at a very slow rate.

The Downright Horrible

17) Guard. I feel like I've said this for every prospect from the British Commonwealth I've covered. There are several problems with Joseph Parker's guard. The worst is that when he corners his opponent and starts throwing his chin is way out high and exposed while he punches. He is very open for counters. Several of his opponents countered him hard in the middle of his rallies and this is a major problem. But even in his classic defensive position, his back hand doesn't always stay up, just like Joshua's it's at a weird angle and at a weird distance from his chin.

Overall Impression

Joseph Parker is certainly very dangerous and an exciting fighter to watch. He has very fast hands with brutal power and they are accurate as well, and set up by a quality jab. I honestly think that if anybody lets him throw, they don't stand a chance to defend against his power. But I also think his flaws and his relative lack of improvement should give opponents a lot to work with. I think by far the best bet is to use movement and angles to keep him guessing. He seems to have serious trouble letting his hands go against opponents who don't stay where he wants them. And he often ends up unbalanced and with his chin out there when lunging after them. I also think his long line of early stoppages is hurting his development to a certain extent.

At some point someone who runs him around the ring and hits back hard is going to test exactly how tough he is and exactly how well conditioned he is. The funny thing is, I still give him a better shot against a fellow prospect like Joshua than I do against a veteran hard-ass like his upcoming opponent Carlos Takam. Because if he does manage to take the fight to Joshua he'd be putting him in a situation he isn't used to and if Joshua takes the fight to him, I think he has 3 advantages that he hasn't had the chance to showcase sufficiently yet: he is a better counterpuncher than Joshua, he moves out of trouble competently and he is very dangerous when engaged because he will rumble. But to get to Joshua Joseph Parker is going to have to show some improvement against Carlos Takam because that guy has experience dealing with good fighters.

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