By Jake Collins / @MelancholyFolly
Let’s firstly address the twenty quid elephant in the room before looking ahead at the bouts themselves. No, never in a million years ought this to be a PPV card. Even without the late replacements and such, this was never a PPV worthy card. If you happen to be defending this, please know that your acceptance of inferior product enables the inferiority to become the standard. Additionally, ask WHY you’re defending it. Are you fighting on the card? Do you get a share of the PPV money? No, you don’t. The fighters are the top of the bill – those that the PPV money will directly be harvested for – make plenty of money as it is. We do not owe anyone a millionaire lifestyle. And no, “it’s the price of a few beers with the boys!” isn’t a useful, clever or poignant reply. It absolutely misses the point and produces the fallacy that you’ve got mates. Right, well that’s my portentous bullshit out of the way – onto the preview.
For all of the above, this IS a good fight. It’s an odd one to see existing though. Whyte has been calling out Wilder and his WBC belt for a long time, claiming that he has been avoided by the champion. The WBC in turn said “OK, fight Ortiz and you’re mandatory” (being number 1 in the WBC rankings does NOT immediately make you mandatory). The response was tepid at best. All the while, the IBF ordered an eliminator against the perpetually ranked Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev. Nothing much happened there either. And so, we end up with Whyte fighting Parker, which is cool, though should Whyte win he has no real credence in crying about a title shot.
They have one noteworthy common opponent between them, which they both of course lost. Whyte gave us an enthralling fight, went for broke (with some success) before having his soul taken from him. Parker on the other hand, produced a disciplined but dull display. I thought the fight was much closer than the cards suggested but an L is an L is an L. He boxed pretty well but any inside action was halted by the office admin posing as a referee in their fight.
Outside of that, Parker has struggled a little below that level. I personally thought Ruiz Jr just pinched their fight, plus the duel with Takam was pretty close too, though Parker deserved the nod there. He has pretty fast hands and seems to have a quality chin. His boxing is decent but by no means special; he does the basics well and moves around the ring handily enough to be a pain at world level. He seems capable on the inside too, willing to trade when the opposition is mutually keen. He’s done the twelve rounds enough to show a more than adequate gas tank as well.
Whyte, I still don’t really know. I was prepared to give him credit for beating Browne but the Browne that showed up moved with the fleeting grace of a decaying sandbag, so I struggle to give retrospective adulation. The dude was slower than Wach, considerably so in fact. Not Whyte’s fault though and he scored a brutal KO, plus threw in some really nice body shots. I think he still struggles when fighting off the back foot though which is why he can get drawn into a shootout like he did with Chisora. He looked terrible against Helenius who evidently was unwilling to engage but the red flag for me was his inability to pin Helenius down and cause some damage. Helenius is past it and wasn’t much cop beyond European level anyway. I did see more discipline in the Browne fight though and that’s something I’ve always been critical of toward Whyte. A lot of his shots still seem awfully wild to me which is of concern.
Calling the outcome here is a little tricky but I give the edge to Parker. I’m not sure that Whyte does anything better than Parker. He maybe has a little more power but that’s ostensibly so. Parker has much more polished punching form and operates more successfully on the back foot in that he doesn’t look so laboured when moving laterally. If he fights in a similar way to the AJ fight then I think he can take enough rounds off of Whyte to secure a decision. If however (and this is what I hope happens) they get into a situation where it’s Hell for leather then the outcome becomes a little more murky. I’ve seen Whyte hurt by Joshua, Chisora and Helenius; I’ve not really seen Parker hurt properly at all. But then outside of Joshua, Parker hasn’t really been in with any punchers. I do feel that his neater skills will serve Parker better in a slug-fest too. Whyte dug real deep against Chisora though, probably deeper than I’ve seen Parker have to dig, so that counts for something. I suppose it comes back to my earlier thought: I just don’t know how many things Whyte does better than Parker. Regardless of who wins, it’s a legit good win and should be treated as such.
It seems odd that Chisora still finds himself in meaningful fights at this stage. He’s clearly seen better days and his last official win of note (I thought he just beat Whyte, which is telling) was Kevin Johnson back in 2014. He was soundly beaten and retired against Fury off the back of that, before then eventually being comfortably outpointed against Pulev and then dropping a decision to Kabayel. Kabayel isn’t a bad fighter at all, but he’s not a world level guy. I suspect the Whyte fight drained the last drop of fortitude out of Chisora. I just don’t know if he can go to war like he used to anymore. More to the point, Carlos Takam is a very capable fighter. As stated, he gave Parker a tough run and was in a FOTY contender with Povetkin prior to that (though suffered a concussive KO). The fight against AJ was a deplorable stoppage on the ref’s part but he was very much down on the cards. He did well though, showed solid head movement to get inside Joshua’s jab and great resilience too. He just lacks genuine power once he’s in range.
Both fighters lack devastating power, in honesty. Both have sturdy chins though, which indicates that this is a distance fight. Chisora was KO’d properly by Haye and was stopped as previously mention by Fury. Other than that (and the two I mentioned for Takam), they’ve stood pretty strong. My feeling is that Takam is fresher than Chisora and probably a little hungrier off the back of the valiant effort against Joshua. There’s little difference in size. I would say that Takam is more capable of boxing intelligently than this version of Chisora who was unable to adapt to Kabayel’s movement around him. Takam won’t fight in that method but he can be elusive enough in the pocket which I think will frustrate Chisora and give room for Takam to counter effectively.
Potentially, this could be a really fun fight. Equally, this could end up being pretty dire. It largely depends on Chisora’s motivation and mood for me. If Chisora’s passionate and determined then Takam will have to be on song and either throw right back or box cleverly, using pivots around Chisora, both of which should make for an engaging fight. I can’t look past a Takam decision here.
Rest of the card
None of the other fights require their own section. Out of nowhere (and perhaps of promotional desperation) we have Nick Webb and David Allen squaring off. It’s a fine fight for both but it was announced today (the 23rd), so at this sort of notice it’s poor. Webb isn’t a prospect of note but Allen will likely not be in his ideal shape and was hit an awful lot against Tony Yoka. Given Allen’s recent talk of retiring, I’m not sure how up for this he can suddenly be, so I think Webb is the safer bet.
Katie Taylor is fighting Kimberley Connor. It’s hard to get a gauge on how useful the female fighters are as the talent pool is so much smaller (even self-proclaimed GOAT Shields hasn’t looked up to much). Taylor will win. She’s an excellent fighter in her field and unfortunately for her it’s a small field. I hope her success encourages more women to get into boxing though. That’ll gradually increase the pool organically and hopefully result in better fights for us to watch. I’ve seen more female fans on Twitter over the last couple of years emerging too, which is cool.
Conor Benn inexplicably finds himself on PPV once more. He’s rematching Cedrick Peynaud who was robbed against Benn last time out. Peynaud IS the reigning champion of The Home of Boxing (Luxembourg) but as far as I know he isn’t a full time fighter, so Benn ought to have improved enough to win convincingly. I don’t rate Benn particularly and I don’t think he will go beyond domestic level (he pulled out of an English title eliminator last year), but he certainly isn’t a dull watch. Their first fight was actually pretty action packed, so more of the same please fellas.
Anthony Folwer matches up with equally unbeaten and equally unproven Craig O’Brien. Buglioni doesn’t yet have anyone to fight and neither does Joshua Buatsi, which is annoying because he’s better than this. Ricky Summers had to pull out which sucks as that was a step up for the Olympian. There were rumblings from Matchroom that a solid Russian replacement was en route (which the clues suggested was perhaps Igor Mikhalkin, who is better than Summers) but that seems to have vanished into the ether.by