This morning at 6 a.m. ET from New Zealand, Joseph Parker and Carlos Takam will meet in an IBF heavyweight title eliminator, with the winner in line for a shot at the belt currently held by Anthony Joshua. The fight will air on Sky Sports 3 in the United Kingdom, plus pay-per-view in New Zealand and Australia, and we'll be here for the early morning coverage.
Parker (18-0, 16 KO) has looked good so far as a professional and established himself as a legitimate prospect, but this fight with Takam (33-2-1, 25 KO) is a big step up for him, too. The 24-year-old Parker has yet to face a real contender, and while Takam, 35, is not an elite fighter, he's a step up over the likes of Jason Bergman, Kali Meehan, and Bowie Tupou, without question.
A potential fight between Parker and Joshua is a pretty fascinating idea, as both are explosive young punchers, but Parker first has to get through this test, and that's no given.
For a full preview of the fight, click here.
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Joseph Parker def. Carlos Takam by unanimous decision (115-113, 116-112, 116-112)
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ROUND BY ROUND
JOSEPH PARKER vs CARLOS TAKAM
Round 1: Parker popping the jab out early, Takam lands a couple good lefts. Parker kinda walking into a few of these shots, jab isn't working for him. Takam with a shot to the side of the head. Parker throws a right, but gets clipped back with a hook. Parker trying to press forward, but Takam not letting him land flush. Eye-opener round for Parker. Takam 10-9
Round 2: Parker catches Takam with a right, Takam trying to work away from any trouble. Parker swings a wild right and slips. Left hook from Takam again. Parker with a right to the body. Throws a heavy straight right, blocked and Takam bounces away again. Takam misses a wild right, Parker getting spurred on by the crowd. Parker really throwing some heavy shots, but not landing -- still better range control if nothing else, and he's showing purpose. Right hand from Parker again, partially blocked. Right hand again, partially blocked again, but a much better round for Parker. Parker 10-9, 19-19
Round 3: Parker fighting much more patiently these last two rounds, throwing different shots, and his speed is showing up as a real positive now. Takam not getting those counters off like he did in the first round, but he did buzz Parker just a bit with a hook. But Parker has made the adjustments from the first, and it's encouraging for him. Parker 10-9, 29-28
Round 4: Parker jabbing to start this round. Takam not taking risks here, which is probably smart at the moment. Might want to see if Parker will tire before he does that. After I say that, Takam starts pressing forward more and lands a decent hook. Parker landing some good shots at the end of the round, and a nice uppercut gets in. Body shot. Takam swinging aggressively but well short. Another uppercut, and Takam fires off a right hand up top that lands. Parker caught in a corner, then shoves Takam over during a moment of aggression. Parker 10-9, 39-37
Round 5: Parker landing some body shots, but caught again with a hook and a right thrown behind it. Takam lands a couple rights inside, coming over the top with them. Takam with an uppercut inside, Parker's body punches have been landing a bit this round. Takam now marching forward and really starting to push Parker back. Uh oh — Parker suddenly looking very tired. and running. Takam is throwing bombs at him. Not landing consistently, but he's really pressuring now. That could be a tide turner. Takam 10-9, Parker 48-47
Round 6: Parker trying to take the initiative to start this round, body and head shots. Parker throwing with purpose when he's able to lead the action. Takam's pressure backed off again. Parker taking advantage of that. Takam turning it up a bit into the final minute of action. Takam with a couple of potshots late. Parker 10-9, 58-56
Round 7: Parker looks tired in there. Takam not pressuring, though. Might be a mistake. But there's still a long way to go. Parker throwing lots of arm punches now, but Takam not taking advantage yet. Body shot from Parker. That's been a nice bit of work from him in this fight. Parker 10-9, 68-65
Round 8: Takam throwing shots to start this round, and really doing nice work inside, but Parker lands a hard right hand back! Crowd getting crazy as Parker throws a ton of punches. Takam shaken a bit but he fires back and buzzes Parker! A lot of energy wasted by Parker, and Takam is coming on with a minute left in the round! Both did some good stuff in this round, both hurt a bit, but I like Takam's overall pressure to take the round. Takam 10-9, Parker 77-75
Round 9: Takam lands a good hard right hand with a minute left, kind of a ho-hum round before that, eighth took plenty out of both guys. Parker takes a good shot. Another right from Takam. Parker didn't bring much this round. Takam 10-9, Parker 86-85
Round 10: Parker laying back in the first half of the round, Takam just letting him do it. Terrible effort here from Takam in this round. He does nothing and this is the third round he's sort of given away. Parker 10-9, 96-94
Round 11: Takam treating this fight like Canelo Alvarez treats the WBC middleweight title: handing it over to someone who wants it. Takam lands one good right with about 30 seconds left but otherwise gave away another round here, more or less. Parker 10-9, 106-103
Round 12: Takam upping the pressure a bit more. Might be too little, too late. Takam pressuring and throwing everything he can, from any angle, once he gets in range. Parker eating shots. Takam slips with a minute left. Parker is throwing a bit back, but is mostly wisely just trying to cover up and keep his composure. Takam with a good shot, Parker fires back! Parker throwing what energy he has left into the last minute. Takam 10-9, Parker 115-113