Emerging New Zealander heavyweight Joseph Parker sent a clear message to Anthony Joshua and the rest of boxing's heavyweight division after demolishing the now 38-3 Crimean-born German heavyweight Alexander Dimitrenko inside three rounds in Auckland's Vodafone Events Centre.
The heavy-handed Kiwi gifted the experienced Dimitrenko only his second ever stoppage loss and Parker maintained his reputation as one of the division's most exciting talents.
Parker looked comfortable throughout the contest and was clearly the quicker and more powerful man. The plodding Dimitrenko, whose attack was limited to pawing jabs and clinch after becoming a touch hesitant to engage in slugfest once feeling his opponent's power, was floored four times in the brief bout—with Parker's clubbing right hands over the top dismantling Dimitrenko.
However, the contest ended in bizarre circumstances. Another right hand had Dimitrenko down on one knee on the canvas. But, Parker threw a right hand to the ribs of Dimitrenko which sent him theatrically reeling on the floor with his mouthpiece spat out. It was a moment of ill-discipline from Parker, but it would appear the German-based fighter was looking for a way out.
As the official completed the ten count and called off the fight, Dimitrenko was left perturbed. "It was not correct," said the fallen Dimitrenko. "I was down on one knee and he hit me. But, this is the boxing business—heavyweight boxing." As a result, Parker moves to 21-0 with 18 knockout victories to his credit.
IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and Eddie Hearn, the former's promoter, was watching on with a vested interest. Parker has been positioned as the IBF's mandatory challenger for Joshua's crown. But, Parker still had to blow past Dimitrenko to maintain that role and it was the perfect way for Parker to prove his mettle against a man who will enjoy a distinct size and reach advantage over him—something Joshua will certainly hold over the Auckland, New Zealand, native.
The heavyweight division has been in a state of flux over the last couple of months and that is largely thanks to the ongoing mess with WBA and WBO world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury—a long-time verbal sparring partner of Joshua's.
After beating long-time champion Wladimir Klitschko, Fury has not defended his titles after accepting the rematch against his Ukrainian foe—a rematch with cost him his IBF title which was later won by Joshua.
The rematch was first postponed ahead of the first contest slated for July, with Fury citing an ankle injury among the reasons why he couldn't take the fight. The rescheduled bout for October 29 was then cancelled altogether due to reported mental health issues stopping Fury from competing. Today, Fury claimed to have retired from boxing, though he later retracted that statement mere hours later.
The Briton, 28, is expected to have both WBA and WBO titles stripped from him for failing to defend his championships with the WBO giving Fury a 10-day deadline to provide an adequate reason for pulling out of this latest fight. Though, Fury has already got himself in hot water by allegedly failing a drug test—which, with Fury being Fury, was undermined by the subject as he renamed himself on Twitter as Tyson Montana with his face superimposed on Scarface character Tony Montana in the famous shot of him sat behind a desk with piles of cocaine on top.
The potential of a world title fight between two of heavyweight boxing's greatest rising talents—Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker—is a welcome distraction to the unstable division created in part by Fury.