Dillian Whyte (24-1, 17KOs) survived a late onslaught from Joseph Parker (24-2, 17KOs) to win on points at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London.
On an excellent night of boxing under the ‘Big tent’ in London home fighter Whyte produced a gritty performance against New Zealander Parker to win by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the fight in favour of Whyte 113-112, 115-110 & 114-111.
Parker edged the opening round using his hand speed to good effect and making the Londoner miss wildly on a couple of occasions although he got caught to the body when trying to move out of range.
The second round was pretty even until Parker was adjudged to have been knocked down with only seconds to spare. After looking at the replays it looked like a culmination of a loss of footing and a clash of heads.
Whyte who came in over 16lbs heavier was starting to make his extra weight count by taking the centre of ring. Parker was unable to push the Brixton slugger back and ended up getting caught with a right hand uppercut in the third.
A pattern was being to emerge with Parker continuing to get tagged to the body on the way out of an exchange and Whyte using rough tactics to disrupt Parker’s rhythm. Every time the Kiwi was able to sustain any sort of pressure in he fourth and fifth Whyte would respond with something better.
Parker was starting to look dispondant with the occasional glare over to his corner as Whyte produced one of his best rounds in the sixth landing an eye catching right uppercut.
Both men started to look gassed in the seventh and eighth but it was Whyte who looked unsteady on his feet that continued to be the aggressor with Parker unwillingly to engage.
If the first knockdown was unjust the second one that put Parker to the canvas in the ninth was anything but. The former WBO champion had never been down in his professional career but was on the end of an almighty left hook that put him down hard. To his credit he was able to beat the count and hold on.
The knockdown seemed to help Parker as he managed to steady the ship and box his way through round ten without any real concern.
Parker now needed to produce the best six minutes of his career if he was going to get anything out of the fight and to his credit he did exactly that. A huge right uppercut rocked an exhausted Whyte back onto his heels but Parker was unable to find the space to do enough significant damage.
Into the twelfth and final round and the young lad from New Zealand went for broke. The ‘Body Snatcher’ was hurt with a big right hand that pushed him back onto the ropes early in the round. Although Whyte managed to stay on his feet he was looking like a man on the verge of hitting the deck.
With 25 seconds to go Parker nailed Whyte with another big right hand but this time the Londoner did hit the canvas. In a state of desperation Whyte managed to pick himself off the floor and hold on for dear life to the sound of the final bell.
Nothing short of a terrific tear-up between two of the top heavyweights around today. Joseph Parker can hold his head up high but he definitely has plenty to work on although this experience will leave him in good stead. Dillian Whyte can now look forward to his next challenge what ever that might be. Surely one more victory against a high ranked opponent will put him next in line for a title shot in 2019. Who knows if Wilder avoids Joshua again then we could see Joshua-Whyte at Wembley in April.