Manchester’s AO Arena witnessed a breakout performance from Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce as he systematically broke down New Zealand’s former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker.
In a fight that was dubbed a 50/50 contest heading into Saturday night, Joyce started fast to pepper out a stabbing jab and assert his authority on the smaller man Parker early on. The New Zealander certainly had success of his own and landed a huge right-hand to the forehead of Joyce in the fourth. Remarkably however the thirty-seven-year-old remained undeterred and continued to threw bundles of hooks of his own, a response which must have been demoralising for Parker who just seconds earlier landed the shot of the contest so far only for it to have little to no impact. As the fight reached the midway point, Parker looked to be slowing down, tiring under the relentless pressure of the man before him, his legs looking sluggish as he continued to try and evade the hounding work of the Juggernaut. Joyce took the large majority of the middle rounds as he continued to grow more and more dominant on the night, and opened a cut on the left eye of Parker in the seventh after a clean right-hand. Parker appeared to be hurt in the eighth by another punishing right, showing incredible heart and grit to stick it out as he continued to try and push Joyce back.
Parker, despite shipping a wealth of punishment already on the night, incredibly fought on and looked to regain a second wind in the tenth as Joyce finally showed a human side and looked to take a breather. The New Zealander took the round but Joyce continued to remind his opponent of his greater physicality, making Parker work every second of the round. The eleventh, a round that seemed out of reach for Parker given the state he looked to be in halfway through the bout, finally saw the end of the contest. Perhaps an accumulation of the punishment he had shipped in the previous ten rounds as well as the sheer exhaustion of everything he had put into the contest, Parker found himself on his back in the home corner following a near perfect left-hook thrown by the Juggernaut which caught the New Zealand man flush with a minute of the round remaining. Referee Steve Gray began to administer a count, with Parker remarkably summoning the will to regain his footing by the time the count reached eight but it was clear that there was little need for the contest to continue with the writing seemingly on the wall for the thirty-year-old. Gray eventually waved the contest off, a merciful decision after a brave showing from Parker, while Joyce gets his breakout moment to announce himself as one of the standout fighters in the division.
Joyce and Parker embraced once the British Boxing Board of Control officials had finished administering medical attention, finally showing the respect that most knew was already existing between the two men who almost looked to enjoy each other’s company during the build-up to the contest. The thirty-seven-year-old Joyce then called out unified champion Oleksandr Usyk in his post-fight interview after confirming himself as the WBO mandatory for the Ukrainian in what would be a mouth-watering affair between two men who already have history after fighting in the amateur code years ago. Joyce, who for long has been mocked for his less than aesthetically pleasing style, can no longer be ignored or denied as a top-tier heavyweight who will prove a handful for every other man operating within the division, including the two champions.
Amanda Serrano added the IBF featherweight title to her WBC and WBO straps at 126lbs in the chief support with a comfortable victory over Denmark’s Sarah Mahfoud. Serrano, who ran out a unanimous winner on the cards by scores of 99-92 and 97-93 twice after ten rounds, was impressive for the majority of the contest, particularly impressing in the first half of the bout where she aggressively closed down Mahfoud, showing little regard for whatever came back her way. To her credit, Mahfoud regrouped and improved in the second half of the fight, taking a couple of rounds with tidy work off the back foot but never really threatened to score a major upset as she was handed the first defeat of her professional career so far.
Nathan Heaney had his hand raised over Jack Flatley in their domestic middleweight affair but not in the manner he would have wished for after a horrendous cut caused by an accidental clash of heads in the fifth forced the bout to end prematurely, much to the frustration of the fans sitting ringside. Heaney edged the opening rounds as the two felt their way into the contest but Flatley looked sharper in the third due to the hesitance of the Stoke man who to his credit responded well in the fourth. The bout was developing nicely before the coming together midway through the fifth which forced the fight to be cut short. Flatley moved forward to let his hands go on the inside only to crash into Heaney’s forehead, opening a terrible gash above the popular middleweight’s right eye. Referee Gray immediately paused the bout and consulted the ringside doctor who needed little time to advise the contest be stopped and the scorecards be consulted. Fans were not happy, ringing out a chorus of boos but the situation was unfortunate and left those involved with little choice other than to halt the affair. All three judges found Heaney a winner by margins of 50-45 and 49-46 twice to settle a disappointing ending to a fight which offered promise and intrigue heading into the evening.
Further down the card, Ekow Essuman successfully won his British welterweight title outright with a unanimous decision over Samuel Antwi (117-112, 116-113 and 115-114). Antwi began the fight well early on but Essuman began to takeover in the middle portion with Antwi looking weary. The challenger came back well in the closing rounds but it wasn’t enough to prevent a comfortable Essuman win on the night. Anthony Cacace overcame Italy’s unbeaten Michael Magnesi at super-featherweight to pickup the lesser IBO title at 130lbs following a split-decision on the scorecards. The fight was close during the opening six rounds on the night but the superior boxing of the Irishman from range in the second half of the contest took the fight from Magnesi who was handed his first professional defeat by the three judges ringside by respective scores of 116-112 and 112-166, 111-117.
Raven Chapman sealed her fourth professional victory in as many outings with a comfortable unanimous decision victory over Jorgelina Guanini over eight rounds at featherweight, while newly-crowned British and Commonwealth super-middleweight Mark Heffron blasted through Martin Ezequiel Bulacio inside a round to continue his impressive form at 168lbs. James Heneghan forced a fifth-round stoppage of Rod Douglas Jr. at middleweight, and Callum Thompson cruised past Delmar Thomas with a four-round points victory at lightweight. Amaar Akbar edged Karlo Wallace in his fourth professional contest, and cruiserweight Tommy Fletcher disposed of Toni Visic in four rounds.