Boxers Joseph Parker and Hughie Fury Ready for Heavyweight Showdown
A preview of Saturday’s heavyweight title fight between Joseph Parker and Hughie Fury.
Updated: Sept. 20, 2017 • 7:46 PM ET
Joseph Parker will defend his heavyweight title this Saturday.
Boxing has a significant heavyweight title on the line this Saturday in Manchester, England, where rising young stars Joseph Parker and Hughie Fury will battle for Parker’s WBO heavyweight title.
Parker, who’s 23-0 with 18 knockouts and making his second title defense, is a 25-year-old New Zealand native. Many consider Parker a representation of the next wave of great heavyweights. However, in his last two fights against a step-up in competition, he lacked the finishing ability he showed in previous fights.
Prior to his fight with Andy Ruiz in 2016, during which he won the WBO title, Parker was a dominant knockout artist. In the fight with Ruiz and his first title defense against Răzvan Cojanu, he lacked punching power, at times seeming afraid to pull the trigger, and wasn't as dominant.
While improvement can be expected from Parker, it’ll be increasingly difficult to hang on to the title as his competition improves. After the fight with Cojanu, many fighters were eager for a shot at Parker, including Tony Bellew and Deontay Wilder, to name a few.
Against a young and hungry challenger like Fury, Parker needs to remain as poised as he was in the Cojanu fight. Five years into his pro career, Saturday is a chance for Parker to prove that his heart is bigger than the hype.
Fury, 23 years old, hasn’t fought since April 2016 due to a back injury and skin condition that inhibits his ability to train at 100 percent. The skin disease is called acne conglobata, which causes trouble for his immune system. After his last fight with Fred Kassi, Hughie’s father and trainer, Peter Fury, told Sky Sports that his son was “only fighting on 30 or 40 percent.”
"That's all behind me now," Fury said via ESPN. "I've got a clean sheet, I feel a different person and a lot stronger. My body wasn't allowing me to do a lot before.
"It would put me out for two weeks at a time before the fight, which was three or four weeks away. I just had to stop because I was worse off for training. I had a skin condition which was poisoning my blood and over the years it has got worse and worse."
Fury believes the skin disease and back injury, which caused the first scheduled fight with Parker in May to be postponed, will not be a factor on Saturday.
"I've had it sorted for a year now,” Fury said. “I took medication [Roacutane] for six months and it's just gone now. I've been able to build up muscle and body weight. People don't know what I can do because I've not been fully fit before like I am [now]."
Fury, much like Parker, is unproven against stiffer competition. Still, he has lofty expectations to meet. He’s the cousin of former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, and it was Tyson Fury’s win over Wladimir Klitschko that opened doors for fighters like Parker and Hughie to be in the title picture. Both fighters can erase any doubt about their future with a win over the other.
The main questions going into this fight are: is Fury healthy? Has Parker peaked? Will the hometown crowd help energize Fury? The fight was originally supposed to be held in Parker’s homeland.
Skeptics of both fighters question whether they can compete with the heavyweight division’s elite. Despite what critics might say, this fight has the ingredients to be a great battle that sees a finish.