Joseph Parker farewells New Zealand in underwhelming boxing title fight

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Joseph Parker celebrates a successful world title defence with his team.

Joseph Parker throws a full-blooded right hand.

Things get heated between Joseph Parker and Razvan Cojanu.

Joseph Parker takes a shot to the face.

Razvan Cojanu proved a tougher opponent for Joseph Parker than most would've expected.

Joseph Parker strikes with Razvan Cojanu on the ropes.

Joseph Parker jabs with the left hand.

Joseph Parker throws a left hand at Razvan Cojanu.

Joseph Parker goes to the body of Romania's Razvan Cojanu.

Joseph Parker feels his way into the fight.

Joseph Parker enters the ring.

George Kambosos Jr celebrates his win over fellow Australian Qamil Balla, by unanimous decision.

The atmosphere at the Manukau Events Centre.

Undercard fight Umar Salamov with his trainer Kevin Barry.

ACT leader David Seymour, centre, with the Chow brothers.

Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis watches on.

Umar Salamov and Emil Markic both land punches.

Umar Salamov looked all class against Emil Markic.

Emil Markic, bottom left, had no answer to Parker's stablemate.

A brutal end as Tim Tszyu, right, defeats Ivana Siau.

Tim Tszyu lands a left jab.

Tim Tszyu, right, defeated Ivana Siau by TKO.

Joseph Parker relaxes watching his brother.

Jerome Pascua, right, defeated Josh Hatherley by split decision.

Joshua Hatherley, right, sports a cut above the eye.

Smiles all round after the fight.

John Parker, right, defeated Ratu Sailosi Dawai by unanimous decision.

John Parker, left, is still undefeated in a fledgling career.

John Parker takes one on the cheek from Ratu Dawai.

Younger brother John Parker gets the undercard win.

Judith Collins watches on.

Joseph Parker winks to his brother John Parker.

John Parker team photo after his win.

Jordan Tuigamala, left, was too good for Nigel Elliott.

Nigel Elliott is down for the count.

Jordan Tuigamala check on Nigel Elliott after knocking him out.

Joseph Parker's mum Sala Parker and Sir Peter Leitch (left) before the fight.

The promo ring girls.

'Sparring is different from a real fight' - Joseph checks out venue before Razvan Cojanu showdown.

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker faces off against Romania's Razvan Cojanu at the official weigh in.

Joseph Parker gave up 13kg to his opponent.

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Goodbye, Joe, thanks for all you have done for New Zealand boxing. It is a shame, though, you and your team could not deliver a more deserving, fitting farewell.

Saturday night's comfortable but dour points win over Romanian challenger Razvan Cojanu closed a memorable chapter in Parker's career - one he can largely reminisce over fondly.

Undefeated after 23 wins and 18 knockouts, Parker's fighting days in New Zealand, for the foreseeable future at least, have finished.

Joseph Parker's title fight against Razvan Cojanu was underwhelming.
PHOTOSPORT

Joseph Parker's title fight against Razvan Cojanu was underwhelming.

But his underwhelming farewell did not go to script. From too many empty seats at the 3000-capacity arena in Manukau, to the sparring-like action in it, this was not befitting of what the 25-year-old has achieved to date. It did him more harm than good.

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Joseph Parker celebrates his successful title defence with his team.
PHOTOSPORT

Joseph Parker celebrates his successful title defence with his team.

We were told the venue was sold out - it looked otherwise. Those that were there were restless; those who did not turn up did not miss much.  

Cojanu never came to steal the title. He was more interested in verbally baiting, holding and frustrating Parker. To a large extent that worked, making for a disappointing spectacle.

Cojanu, with his inside knowledge after over 80 rounds of sparring, took all Parker had to give, but no-one will sign up to watch the replay.

Give his stage in career, this was probably the worst promotion of Parker's career. Much of the blame can be laid at Hughie Fury's feet after the Englishman controversially pulled pin two weeks out with a dubious back injury.

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In hindsight, calling this event off may have been the better option.

Fury's absence saw Parker's first title defence go from highly anticipated to significantly downscaled, dimming hype and expectations.

Compared to the electric atmosphere that resonated from every seat at Vector Arena last December when Parker made New Zealand boxing history by capturing the WBO world heavyweight title against Andy Ruiz Jnr, this event fell flat.

But his time at home should not be remembered solely on that note.

Parker's five-year pro career has seen him clean up opponents in Auckland, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Christchurch and Invercargill, building a passionate legion of Kiwi fans along the way.

Those people who attended Parker shows will generally tell you how captivating the main event is live. Opponents haven't always been high quality but that's how the boxing game works. Build a record before you build the mansion.

Parker arrived on the Kiwi boxing scene at a time when David Tua and Shane Cameron - two legends of the sport here - began to fade, and quickly became a star in his own right.

Whatever your opinion of Duco as a promotions company, their handling of Parker once again elevated NZ boxing to the mainstream. Sideshows came and went. Through it all, Parker has been the central theme holding it all together.

Unfortunately for the Kiwi punter, he has now outgrown the local market. While things are going well Parker will continue to train in Las Vegas - fight overseas, and return home only for holidays.

Even before Fury pulled out leading sponsors, the likes of Burger King, had walked away and the financial pressure of squeezing money out of corporates and the pay-per-view market became too difficult to stage profitable fights here without any form of local or central government support.

Offshore, the money in the UK in particular is now far too enticing to keep Joe at home.

The sad part for the New Zealand boxing fan is they are now left questioning who is next? Where will the next star emerge from to carry these black tie, glamorous gown events.

Junior Fa, Parker's amateur foe, is lurking with an 11-0 record. But he will fight at least three times a year in the States.

Perhaps we will look back over this period and realise just how good it was to witness the rise of a Kiwi champion.

The time has come for Parker to go global; to prove his credentials.  

Future fights will offer better entertainment than Cojanu but won't see nearly as many New Zealanders in the stands. 

Despite the disappointing finale, they'll still be in Parker's corner. 

 - Stuff

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