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Parker vs Fury: Fight preview and matchup

Joseph Parker defends the WBO heavyweight title on Saturday against Hughie Fury.

Joseph Parker

Joseph Parker v Razvan Cojanu Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Record: 23-0 (18 KO) ... Streak: W23 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'4" / 76" ... Age: 25

Thoughts: Parker has never been overly impressive. He’s good enough and relevant enough to get big hype out of New Zealand, because they don’t have a lot of relevant pro boxers to get all that excited about. But is he really a top fighter?

Well, that depends how you look at it. By pure talent, no, I don’t think Parker is a true top fighter. He’s pretty good, but hardly an elite talent. Is he a top fighter within the heavyweight ranks? Sure. It’s still not that great a field, he holds a title, and he’s better than most.

But when I look at his performances against his two best opponents, Carlos Takam and Andy Ruiz Jr, I’m left wanting a whole lot more in each. He beat Takam by decision in 2016, and deserved the win, but that fight was a lot of bad execution by Takam giving the fight away, I think, more than it was Parker really proving superiority. And against Ruiz, Parker went about 50-50, and was probably lucky to be at home to escape with the majority decision win and the vacant WBO belt.

Even in his last fight, he won handily but didn’t really impress against Razvan Cojanu, the sort of opponent a top fighter should wipe out. All of this makes me think that Parker is ripe for the picking against a good opponent, and that his handlers might wish they’d been able to go for the big money against Anthony Joshua once this one is over.

Hughie Fury

Boxing at Copper Box Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

Record: 20-0 (10 KO) ... Streak: W20 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’6" / N/A ... Age: 23

Thoughts: Is Hughie Fury the good opponent who can pick off Joseph Parker? Yeah, maybe. He has talent, he’s young, he’s got a winning attitude, if you will. If he can keep this fight at the range he wants and effectively use his jab, he’s got every chance of winning.

That said, Hughie is not Tyson. The two will never be confused. He’s simply not as good as his older cousin. So if anyone is looking for Hughie to come in and take the spot Tyson has left open in the division, don’t hold your breath.

Ring rust could be a major concern. Fury has dealt with health and injury issues since his last fight, which came on April 30, 2016, a somewhat unimpressive win over Fred Kassi, coming via technical decision. Even Team Fury didn’t dispute the idea that Hughie wasn’t at his best and didn’t look great. They all admitted it.

Now, with 17 months having passed since his last fight, where is Hughie Fury at right now? Is he truly prepared for this fight? And even if he does have to shake the rust, is he actually good enough to beat Parker? Hughie is still really unproven.

Matchup Grade: C+. For me, this fight comes down to Hughie Fury and what he brings to the table. I think we’ve seen about all we’re going to see out of Joseph Parker — sure, Parker’s still young, but I just don’t see a lot of upside left in his game. If Fury is mentally and physically prepared, I think he’s got a style that could be a nightmare for Parker, who is prone to lulls. But we’ll see. This fight could be better than I expect, or plenty worse. It’s kind of a crapshoot matchup.

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