Everyone wants to be a hard-man on fight night but to get real respect, you have to know what you’re talking about – or at least sound like you do.
That’s where we come in. Whether you’re a seasoned pugilist who need to brush up on the two fighters’ records or a casual fan in need of a blagger’s guide, our lowdown on Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker will have you playing the expert analyst come the 28th July.
1) Know Your History
To the uneducated, Whyte and Parker are just another two footnotes in the story of Anthony Joshua’s rise to the top. But there’s a hell of a lot more to these two dangerous heavyweights than narrow losses to AJ.
Whyte does actually have a win over Joshua on the record – a three round unanimous decision win as an amateur. And his unusual pedigree isn’t limited to beating future world champions; the Jamaican-British slugger was originally a professional kick-boxer, and a two-time British Champion at that. The Brixton man's destructive power transferred easily to the Queensbury rules, where he won a European title in his sixth bout, stopping Sandor Balogh in the sixth round. However, the South Londoner's joy was short-lived, as he later tested positive for using banned substances.
After serving a two-year ban, a newly focussed Whyte returned to the ring to stop seven consecutive opponents before losing to Anthony Joshua via a 7th round knockout in a classic rock ‘em, sock ‘em war. Dillian has since beat his last four opponents, including bitter rival Derek Chisora. The Chisora fight was unusual in that Whyte hurt but didn’t stop his foe; when The Body Snatcher lands his best blows, the man on the receiving end doesn’t usually get up.
In his 25 pro fights, Joseph Parker also only has one loss on his record (to you know who) although his power has faded in recent years, due to the side-effects of double-elbow surgery. Indeed, Parker hasn’t stopped an opponent since Alexandra Dimitrenko in October 2016. Having said that, the Kiwi insists that since the Joshua fight, physiotherapy has seen a great improvement in the strength and durability of those problem elbows, and expects his shots to return to their previous one-shot KO power.
But even without that spark, Parker can cause Whyte problems in other areas. Compared to other robotic heavyweights, the Samoan is a natural, fluid boxer, having boxed since the age of four. His performances are always a demonstration of smart footwork, fast hands and boxing know-how. Even against bigger men like Hughie Fury, Parker usually works out a way to let those fast hands go.
2) Get Fighting Familiar
Whyte has claimed in the build-up to the fight that he will “put (Joseph Parker) asleep.” Hype often overshadows reality in boxing but the 30 year-old's bark is even bite than his bark; an extremely aggressive, front-foot style has seen him earn 17 career knockouts from 21 wins – not that this rottweiler of a heavyweight didn’t go for the stoppage in those other six victories. Whyte's brawling style has seen him throw caution to the wind against every opponent he has faced – an approach that has been as dangerous for him as the men he faces. Dillian is undoubtedly planning to go for the kill – and will be hoping Parker will feel riled up enough to exchange with him.
Not that there is much chance of Parker losing his cool; despite his ability to switch into warrior mode when stepping through the ropes, the 26 year-old has a huge number of rounds under his belt and is yet to have his mettle broken.
Parker does concede 5cm in reach to Whyte, although the Brit's willingness to duke it out in the inside should mean it won’t be a problem for the New Zealander to get within range. Joseph would be smart however, to wait for Whyte to come to him; his fast hands and faster fists mean that if he really has recovered his power, his opponent could be ripe for a devastating counter-shot. Indeed, Whyte has expressed his hopes that Parker will “leave his running shoes at home.” Unfortunately for him, Parker’s right hand is even more rapid than his feet.
3) Get Personal
Regardless of individual fighting styles, this bout will be a banger. To find out who you’re really backing, a look at the men behind the gloves is required.
Whyte may be known as The Body Snatcher, but is one of the most likeable characters in British boxing and thanks to several hundred features on IFLTV, has gained something of a cult following among boxing’s hardcore audience. His cheeky demeanour, sense of humour and honest confidence (not to mention his “shark fin” haircut) could one day elevate him to star status if he carries on delivering in the ring.
Not that Whyte has had it all easy; he emigrated from Jamaica as a child with no formal education to speak of, and became a Father at the age of 13. A champion for the underprivileged, Whyte has spoken in the past of his desire to set an example for others who have faced similar challenges to himself.
Parker is perhaps even more loveable than Whyte; his coach Kevin Barry has been quoted as saying that Parker was formally a “shy” young man who was unsure of quitting a building apprenticeship and committing to boxer, due to a lack of confidence. Parker’s humble nature can be seen and heard in every interview he participates in; he is as accessible a star as they come in his native New Zealand, although one imagines he’d like to be a known face across the entire planet.
And that, in a sense, is the crux of this fight; whichever of these two very personable boxers win on the night has another crack at the big time. Either way, there will be thunder and lightning.