Joshua unifies 3 heavyweight belts with decision win over Parker

Andrew Couldridge / Reuters

Anthony Joshua unified three of the four major heavyweight boxing titles Saturday with a unanimous decision win over Joseph Parker, becoming the WBA, IBF, and WBO champion. With the win, Joshua becomes the unified world heavyweight champion, needing just the WBC belt to gain the undisputed title.

Entering the fight as the WBO belt holder, Parker (24-1) had his undefeated record broken but became the first fighter to take Joshua (21-0) the distance, losing by scores of 119-109, 118-110, and 118-110 through 12 rounds.

A fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder appears inevitable for Joshua to unify all four of the major heavyweight straps. He confirmed his interest in his post-fight interview, calling out Wilder.

"Let's go, baby. Let's go," Joshua shouted into the camera.

With 80,000 in attendance at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Joshua showed a new side to his game, carefully picking apart his opponent over 12 rounds rather than going for the kill with monster shots. Joshua had previously never reached the 12th round of a fight.

Some controversy surrounded the contest as the referee appeared to be overly quick to separate the two boxers. He also failed to stop the fight on separate occasions when the tape on one of Joshua's gloves became loose.

Nothing too meaningful landed in first two rounds before things started opening up in the third, though neither fighter gained a solid advantage. Joshua landed the first significant punch of the fight early in the fourth round, catching Parker with a left counter. After a technical battle through the first five rounds, the explosions started going off to start the sixth as both fighters traded wide-swinging blows.

Joshua looked to take the seventh and eighth rounds, earning a serious lead over his opponent for the first time in the bout as Parker's technique grew sloppier. He continued controlling the action in the ninth and opened a cut by Parker's left eye in the 10th. Joshua cruised through the final two rounds to earn the first decision win of his career.