Knockout victory elusive as Parker beats Massey on points

Joseph Parker lands a body punch during his unanimous points victory over Jack Massey in Manchester.

Joseph Parker, back in the ring after a torrid battle and first stoppage loss of his career against Joe Joyce in September, has comfortably beaten Jack Massey in Manchester this morning but his English opponent will likely be the happier of the two.

Parker won by unanimous decision over 10 rounds – 96-93, 97-92, 97-93 – at Manchester Arena but he had demanded of himself a knockout finish against a cruiserweight in Massey who was stepping up a weight level.

Unfortunately for the Kiwi, who tipped the scales at 112kg, and had a 14kg weight advantage, he never looked like getting it and it probably means his rebuilding phase will continue – in fact his trainer Andy Lee all but confirmed that afterwards.

Massey, warned twice by referee Darren Sarginson for holding (he lost a point in the eighth round for transgressing once too often), not surprisingly took a defensive and conservative approach and while it was never going to win him the fight it at least increased his chances of finishing it on his feet.

Parker, despite his size and experience as a former WBO world champion, never seriously hurt Massey, although, after opening with three consecutive left hooks, he did score with two impressive uppercuts in the sixth and 10th rounds.

As has been common with Parker in recent years, he didn’t take advantage of the former, and, while the latter appeared to open up a cut near Massey’s left eye, it didn’t seriously trouble the Brit, a former British cruiserweight title challenger, who appeared the happier of the two at the finish.

With Massey losing that point in the eighth, it was difficult to see how the three judges awarded the fight to Parker by between two and four clear rounds – from this writer’s perspective the Manchester local probably won only two at the most.

He received a big cheer in the second round when he connected with a combination, but Parker, who owned the centre of the ring, was busier, more aggressive and connected with the heavier punches.

But the knockout – or even a knock down – remained elusive.

Parker’s friend and training partner Tyson Fury, at ringside, spoke during the fight of his belief that Parker would win by knockout, saying at the end of the sixth round: “Joe’s doing what he needs to be doing… [he’ll] probably stop him in a couple of rounds.”

Joseph Parker celebrates with the New Zealand and Samoa flags.

Trainer Lee said after the third: “You just have to break him down because he’s very negative.”

In the end, Massey, 29 and with a 20-1 professional record heading into this fight, was durable and technically proficient enough to survive and look reasonably good doing it, although this was not a crowd-pleasing slugfest.

Parker's output tapered off in the second half of the fight and while he scored with big right hands when Massey retreated to the ropes, the Kiwi couldn't unlock the Brit's defence with the trademark combinations of his best days which culminated with his world title victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Auckland in 2016.

After making good strides under Lee, and suffering from a virus which hampered his performance against Joyce in Manchester four months ago which finished with Parker on the canvas in the 11th round, it was a frustrating performance.

And given it came on the undercard of an all-British fight between Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith, the sense that Parker's stocks have fallen significantly since the highs of his brief title reign which finished at the hands of Anthony Joshua in front of a crowd of 80,000 in Cardiff in 2018 was profound.

“More of everything,” said Lee when asked what he would like to see from the 31-year-old Parker who goes to 31-3 as a professional. “I think he’s just beginning again.”


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