Hughie Fury fires up as UK fighters and writers slam Joseph Parker's performance
Hughie Fury says he will knock out Joseph Parker as he joined British fighters and writers in panning the New Zealand heavyweight's lacklustre defence of his WBO world heavyweight title.
Fury still has mandatory rights to fight Parker next after pulling out of Saturday night's fight in Manukau because of a back injury.
Fury's fill-in Razvan Cojanu, a sparring partner of Parker's, took the champion the distance though the Kiwi was always in control of a unanimous points decision.
It was the inability of Parker to knock out the 2.02m Romanian that has seen him heavily criticised by the very market Parker is now targeting for a significant payday.
The fight was beamed live to Britain and his performance left no one impressed.
"Parker, to me, didn't look like he knew what to do with Cojanu after a few rounds when he couldn't land his big shots and he wasn't breaking him down," Fury told Boxing Scene.
"He made very hard work of it and against a former sparring partner who you'd think he'd know inside out and be able to take out, but he struggled and looked poor."
"Conjanu was useless and you could see he just wanted to survive in there, he didn't show any ambition to win and was in there to just to make it to the end of the fight,"
"My opinion of my chances against Parker hasn't changed after watching that. I said before I'll knock him out and that remains the same, but now I know I'll knock him out and take the WBO world title from him."
The WBO's eighth-ranked fighter, Dillian Whyte, was part of Sky Sports' coverage in the UK, and he made it clear what he thinks of Parker.
"If I fight Joseph Parker I believe I will knock him out and become the WBO champion," said Whyte.
"I say that from my heart and from deep in my soul. I honestly believe that. I will knock Joseph Parker out and become WBO champion. I don't see anything there that worries me at all. Nothing.
"Joseph Parker is a big fish in a small pond. He has said he wants to come to the UK and make a name for himself so I think I'm the perfect fight for him."
Whyte has previously been outspoken about Parker, and he didn't need to wait until the end of the fight on Saturday to double down, tweeting "I don't rate Joe Parker please make this fight please please," and including the handle of promoter Eddie Hearn.
Whyte is desperate to join the top mix and returns to action next month in London against Mariusz Wach. He says a good win there could set him up for a fight with Parker.
"[My promoter] Eddie Hearn has told me that I should be fighting Parker for the world title in September at the O2 Arena [in London], providing I win my next fight."
But Whyte will have to get in line. Fury's mandatory challenge is meant to be made in 120 days and Hearn has been indicating he wants Tony Bellew to be the fighter from his busy stable to take on Parker.
There was plenty of general interest in Parker's fight in the UK, where he is seen as a potential challenger to 27-year-old Anthony Joshua, who beat Wladimir Klitschko last Sunday (NZ time) at Wembley Stadium in London and who holds the IBF, WBA and IBO titles.
The headline at The Telegraph said Parker "failed to impress," and the article said "the New Zealander did not look particularly explosive in winning on all three cards and his performance is unlikely to rattle Joshua too much".
The Daily Mirror said it was a "lacklustre" fight, that "may well have done [Parker's] reputation more harm than good - particularly on the back of Joshua's bout with Wladimir Klitschko last weekend - as he struggled to show any kind of dominance".
Two thirds of respondents to an unscientific Mirror poll did not believe Parker deserves a shot at Joshua.
The BBC was also down on Parker's potential to make a splash in the UK.
"Though he remains unbeaten in 23 fights, the manner of this win may make Parker a tougher sell for pay-per-view audiences overseas."
The specialist boxing websites weren't kind to Parker either.
"Parker is still a young fighter and champion, so he has time to grow and improve. But basing things on today's poor showing, improve he must; in a major way. Is Parker a big enough puncher to be able to deal with either AJ or Wilder? Is Parker big and strong enough physically to be able to beat the very best?" quizzed James Slater at East Side Boxing.
"The very best? Right now, with Tyson Fury out of action (soon to return though; hopefully in July) Joshua and Wilder are the two proven best champions – in that order.
"You are only as good as your last fight, so the old boxing adage says. In that case, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker really are worlds apart."
That theme was continued on BoxingNews24 where Gerardo Granados wrote: "Even if Parker won a comfortable decision, it is a concern to see how he wasted the chance to look impressive against a one dimensional slow boxer. This bout was supposed to be a title bout but instead looked more as an undercard 10 rounder. Joseph once again kept on dropping his hands leaving big holes to be countered and even if Cojanu was really limited and threw few punches still was able to land a few solid punches on Parker.
"Parker had an opponent tailor made for him and failed to deliver. Can Parker bounce back? Does Joseph needs new trainer to take him to next level?
"Perhaps styles make fights and Cojanu's didn't mix with Parker's style. Maybe I am too adamant to see Parker win by knockout in all of his fights. But for sure right now I think he is the weakest belt holder."
A disappointing spectacle was always likely to be the case, given the shambolic buildup to Saturday night's bout, which included double deals and the eventual withdrawal of Fury, but all the same, it was a less than ideal send off.
And instead of being on red alert, the UK is mostly waiting to see if Parker has anything more in the tank.