WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker and his team hosted one of the most bizarre press conferences in boxing history in Auckland on Wednesday, as they continued their campaign for a unification bout with WBA and IBF titlist Anthony Joshua.
In the lead up to the presser, Parker and his promoter David Higgins of Duco Events promised to reveal “rare footage” of Joshua being “dropped repeatedly by little known opponents.” Based on those words, one would have expected some previously unreleased sparring clips, but what Team Parker delivered was anti-climactic.
The whole scene at the presser, however, did provide hilarity in an excruciatingly awkward kind of way.
After removing the lectern and various promotional posters from the front of the room, a large projector screen was revealed. Higgins and Co. then proceeded to play a 1980’s style video package slathered in cheese that didn’t feature anything in the slightest bit shocking or revelatory.
The video featured clips of frequent Joshua sparring partner Lawrence Okolie addressing rumours that he dropped the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in sparring. It was made to look as though Okolie confirmed the rumours, but the hard-hitting cruiserweight prospect never actually did so. He did once utter the words “I smashed him up” when asked about the murmurings, but the words “I’m joking, I’m joking” followed swiftly thereafter. The Parker montage conveniently left the latter statement out.
The Okolie clips were followed by a snippet of concrete-fisted heavyweight super-prospect Daniel Dubois claiming that he dropped AJ in a sparring session and Joshua himself admitting that David Price once sent him to the canvas in training. Dubois has never gone into great detail about the supposed knockdown however, while the other incident happened in 2010 when Price was a red-hot heavyweight prospect and Joshua was an inexperienced amateur.
There were clips from Joshua’s stoppage loss to Romania’s Mihai Nistor at the European Championships in 2011 – the full footage of which has long been available on YouTube. There was a clip of AJ being floored by bitter rival Dillian Whyte in the amateurs, a knockdown that fans were already well aware of due to the numerous references to it during the build-up to the pair’s pro encounter in 2015- which Joshua won by knockout after a couple of shaky moments that also featured in the strange Parker compilation.
Finally, there was footage of Joshua hitting the deck after taking a vicious right hand from Wladimir Klitschko in their epic April 2017 encounter. Klitschko, a massive puncher and former longtime world champion, hardly fits the description of “little known”.
In between each clip, there was an oh-so subtle metaphor – a graphic depicting the shattering of glass.
You can watch the montage below…
(If the time-stamp doesn’t work skip to the 8:20 mark.)
The video was obviously designed to back up Team Parker’s assertions that Joshua is a little soft around the whiskers.
“It’s the worst-kept secret in British boxing,” Higgins said. “It’s a genuine weakness, backed by fact. There is no disrespect here – it’s all in the public domain and it’s all factual.”
“We want to build the hype in the UK. We will cop some hate, as we often do … but this is all fact. And it’s fact that Joseph has a granite chin … he’s never been dropped as an amateur, in sparring or as a professional(via Boxing Scene).”
Higgins subsequently offered £20,000 to anyone who could provide evidence that contradicts his claims about the historical sturdiness of Parker’s mandible.
Parker’s team have been in negotiations with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn about a possible unification fight as of late, but haven’t been able to come to a financial agreement. Higgins previously claimed in an interview with Sky Sports that Hearn had made him a “ridiculously low” and “insulting” offer before adding that his fighter deserved at least 40% of the profits from the fight.
On Wednesday, however, Higgins stated that the team are now willing to take a smaller percentage in order to get the fight done.
“There are no excuses … they can have 65 percent of a very, very big pie. Our message to Anthony Joshua – and it’s a serious message – is we want the opportunity to test your chin so much that we’ll let you keep 65 percent of the profit, even though it’s an intercontinental unification,” he said.
“Show Parker some respect and make the fight. We want an open book on revenue share. We have gone from 50 to 40 to 35 percent of the net profit and are willing to take the fight next. We feel anything less is disrespectful or a disgrace. Given Joshua has two belts and Joe has one, a share of about two-thirds and one-third split seems natural justice.”
Understandably, Parker’s presser got quite a reaction on Twitter.
Joseph Parker and his team are so amateur this is cringe
— Papi De La Rhino (@davidthewhiter1) November 21, 2017
I like Joseph Parker, I feel like I would enjoy a very small amount of time in David Higgins company but that was shite, 1990s WWF shite promo shite
— Papi De La Rhino (@davidthewhiter1) November 21, 2017
So Joseph Parker had a press conference yesterday where he showed the press a few times Joshua has been dropped in the amateurs and dropped against Klitschko and expects that to help in the negotiations ?? #TWBW
— World Boxing Wall (@WorldBoxingWall) November 22, 2017
Joseph Parker really needs to distance himself from his promoter ASAP
— Liam Macca (@L_Macca) November 22, 2017
This is a shambolic Duco press conference around Joseph Parker.
— Guy Heveldt (@GuyHeveldt) November 21, 2017
This is that earth shattering footage?
Not to Joshua, just to Parker and his team. ? https://t.co/NMEgbz2OZA
— Dave Coldwell (@davidcoldwell) November 22, 2017
In his most recent fight, Parker took on another Brit in Hughie Fury, younger cousin of Tyson Fury, in Manchester. The Kiwi struggled desperately with the elusive Fury, but managed to hold on to his title via controversial majority decision.