Before Canelo Alvarez takes over the boxing airwaves Saturday night on DAZN, the streaming service has another fight for us from Auckland, New Zealand, as heavyweight rivals Joseph Parker and Junior Fa square off for bragging rights and more.
Parker (27-2, 21 KO) and Fa (19-0, 10 KO) are very familiar with one another from their amateur days, but now they meet as professionals. It’s a big grudge match for the two of them, and there’s a lot of pride on the line here, plus important positioning in the race to get into a world title fight — for Parker it would be returning to that level, for Fa his first chance.
Who wins it? We make our picks.
Scott Christ (8-2-1)
Parker and Fa were amateur rivals, going 2-2 against one another. The pro game is totally different, of course, and Parker has proven himself a contender as a professional heavyweight, winning the WBO title against Andy Ruiz Jr, becoming the first man to go a 12-round distance with Anthony Joshua, and nearly pulling one out of the fire dramatically against Dillian Whyte.
Parker’s more proven, and he’s also the younger guy at 29, with Fa now 31 and having done very little of note since turning pro in 2016, four years after Parker did. Having seen Fa, nothing about him really stands out when projecting at a top level. But grudge matches like this one can be weird, and I’ve got the itchy little feeling that Parker is looking past this. He’s openly talking about fighting Derek Chisora next, targeting the Usyk-Joyce winner after that, and so on. I think this fight is everything to Junior Fa, and heavyweight boxing is more consistently unpredictable than any division, probably. I’m going with the upset. I honestly couldn’t give you any technical reasons or whatever, because Parker has proven a lot more as a pro. But I think Fa’s up for this, and Parker hasn’t fought anyone good in three years himself. Give me the underdog late. Fa TKO-10
Wil Esco (7-3-1)
To keep it short and sweet, the main difference I see between Joseph Parker and Junior Fa is that Parker is much better on his feet than Fa, and I expect that to pay dividends for Parker by allowing him to dictate the pace of the engagements against Fa. Parker is a considerable step up from Fa’s previous opponents and I think that will show once the opening bell rings. I expect Parker to use his movement to set up his shots and eventually start breaking Fa down by the second half of the fight. And once we get to the second half I think Parker exerts his authority to hand Fa his first stoppage loss. Parker TKO-10
How to Watch Parker vs Fa
Date: Saturday, Feb. 27 | Start Time: 1:30 am ET
Location: Spark Arena - Auckland, New Zealand
Online Coverage: BadLeftHook.com
Patrick L. Stumberg (7-3-1)
Fa is, in all honesty, a perfectly functional heavyweight, boasting a sharp right hand and a far more effective body attack than his build would suggest. Unfortunately, Parker is just all wrong for him; despite his height and length, Fa is overly willing to mix it up at close quarters, where Parker’s speed and power advantages figure to reign supreme. If Fa couldn’t keep an ancient, undersized Devin Vargas at arm’s-length, he’s going to have an absolute nightmare of a time trying to handle Parker’s onslaught.
Maybe it’s just the level of competition decreasing sharply, but Parker seems to have finally recaptured his killer instinct in recent efforts, and that’s seriously bad news for the less-seasoned Fa. Unless Parker’s been hiding a tender midsection from us all this time, he overpowers Fa in the pocket to claim Kiwi supremacy. Parker TKO-6
Lewis Watson (7-3-1)
It’s the fifth rubber between these two Kiwis, with four bouts in the amateurs unable to split them at 2-2. Still, a lot has changed since then. This is a big step up for Fa. He probably needed that intermediate fight before jumping in with Parker, but COVID-19 complications kind of put this one on a plate for both fighters and who are we to bitch.
I don’t think Fa owns that one-punch concussive power to keep Parker at bay over the distance. Parker is a tough, tough dude and you’re going to have to throw some serious timber to get his attention. Fa likes to throw big, slow looping uppercuts from a distance, and after becoming frustrated I can see him being exposed to a big counter from everybody’s truly favourite social media star.
Are you ready? Okay, I’m gonna do it: I think it’ll be a STEP TOO FA for Junior. Thank you, and goodnight. Parker UD-12