Joseph Parker overcame a first-round knockdown to defeat Derek Chisora by split decision following a brutal Heavyweight battle at the AO, Arena Manchester, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in all markets excluding the UK, Ireland, China, New Zealand and Samoa.
The New Zealander had a disastrous start, hitting the canvas in the opening seconds, and Parker showed grit along with his classy combinations to secure victory with tallies of 115-113 and 116-111, with Chisora receiving a score of 115-113.
“I am feeling it,” Parker told Matchroom. “Derek landed a lot of shots on me. I’ll probably feel it more tomorrow. The plan was to come out and box smartly and stay focused. I got caught right at the beginning. I think it was round the back of the head, I didn’t see it.
“The plan was to box and move and be smart. With the guidance of Andy I was able to box. We didn’t have the longest time together. I know I needed a lot of work. I need to keep learning from Andy and practicing the things we work on in the gym.
“It was a tough fight and I got caught right at the beginning. I just had to dig deep and stay focused and follow the plan that we had in place. Swayed off a bit, but Derek is a very tough opponent. He came forward, put pressure on me from the beginning. Threw big bombs and landed a lot.
“The boxing skills won me some rounds towards the end. It was a very close fight. I thought it could go either way, and I’m very thankful and blessed to get the win today. He brought the smoke. If you want to feel it, jump in the ring with him.
“It’s very achievable [World Title fight]. I just have to get back to the training. There’s a lot of things I have to work on. I had a good plan in place. There’s still a lot I can show, I just have to keep working with Andy, and more camps ahead. We could do it next fight.”
Katie Taylor retained her WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine Lightweight World Titles after a unanimous decision victory over Natasha Jonas with scores of 96-94, 96-95 and 96-95.
The Irish star shared another memorable meeting with Jonas, nine years after their London 2012 Olympic Games bout, as Taylor was forced to dig deep for the win.
“Again, it was probably a bit too exciting for my liking,” Taylor told Matchroom. “It was definitely a toe to toe battle in there. I thought I was a bit flat early on, but I dug deep to win the championship rounds. I definitely showed the heart of a champion in there and that’s what won me the fight in the end.
“She showed everything it takes to win a World Title in her last two performances. Tonight was a brilliant showcase for women’s boxing and boxing overall. Every time we fought as amateurs it was that type of fight as well. I’d prepared for a hard ten-round battle tonight and that’s exactly what it was.
“Eddie was saying that fight would have brought the PPV sales up a small bit. That’s obviously a great start. I feel sorry for the main event coming out after that fight. It was a thrilling fight. I’m just delighted to come out of it with the belts and still undefeated. 18-0, onwards and upwards. This is what I’m in the sport for, I want to be involved in the biggest fights. There’s plenty of those fights out there for me.”
Campbell Hatton sealed a shutout points victory over Levi Dunn as he made a winning debut in his hometown of Manchester.
The 20-year-old was fighting at the scene of father Ricky’s World Title triumphs after a frantic debut in Gibraltar and he displayed more discipline, sealing a 40-36 verdict following four rounds.
“I could tell during the whole build up that I’d be a lot better in this fight,” Hatton told Matchroom. “I’ve just been so much more relaxed. It’s night and day. I’ve not watched it back yet, but I think I did show a lot smarter boxing and a bit more composure.
“There’s still room for improvement but I’m buzzing with it. I’ve not had probably 10% of what I had to do last time. I’m grateful for it. I think I was hurting him a bit more this time. In a spar, it isn’t about taking them out is it. He was doing a lot of holding. He’s a tough kid and he’s done the job that he was here to do. I think I would have got him out of there if there was a bit less holding.
“My heroes have boxed here, so it’s a box ticked for me. It was weird walking down the ramp with no crowd. I can’t wait to do it again here when it’s packed. It’s not new to me now, I’ve got a bit more used to it. I’ll be straight back in the gym ready to go again. It’s all learning, and by keeping busy, I think I’ll be flying soon.”
Chris Eubank Jr marked his return to Britain with a punishing points victory over Marcus Morrison to stay on course for a big name fight later this year.
Eubank Jr ended a lengthy absence from the ring, hurting Morrison on a number of occasions before sealing victory with three scores of 98-92.
The Brighton star had Morrison in trouble as early as the second round, but says he decided to let his opponent recover in order to gain valuable rounds.
“My last fight lasted two rounds, so really it’s been two years since I had a twelve-round fight,” Eubank Jr told Matchroom. “There was definitely some ring rust, and there was definitely some getting back into the swing of things. I had him hurt bad in the second round. I backed off. I wanted him to recover so that I could be seen again.
“I’m back on TV, I’m back fighting, this is my home. This is my life; this is what I do. I wanted to go the distance and get those rounds in. I’m happy with the performance. I followed instruction; he was telling me to do things in the corner and I went out there and did it. That’s kind of alien to me. Usually most of my career has been dependent on what I want to do, my instincts and my reaction. But now we have a head coach in Roy Jones Jr and I full trust him. I’m happy to be paired with him.
“This is the beginning of a long and great journey for me. I want to be very active this year, I want to fight at least twice more. This is a good start. Full credit to Marcus. I’ve hit guys with shots like that and they’ve gone. He kept coming. A lot of respect for Marcus. There’s a lot of World Champions in the Middleweight division. There’s a lot of big names out there for me to go and fight. Golovkin is the end goal, and anyone with a World Title. I’m coming, they’re all on the radar.”
Dmitry Bivol retained his WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title via a unanimous decision despite a spirited performance from South Londoner Craig Richards.
The unbeaten Russian is recognised as one of the finest fighters in the 175lbs division, but he was made to work for victory over ‘Spider’ Richards with scores of 118-110, 115-113, 115-114.
“I’m not happy but I’m okay,” Bivol told Matchroom. “It was a long rest for me and I went into the ring after one and a half years. It’s fine. My opponent was a good fighter, really good. He’s smart and he thinks. He was thinking for the whole fight.
“It’s okay. I was feeling that I’d won. I gave him a couple of rounds for recovery. I landed more clean punches. I respect him and I respected him before the fight. I think he can make problems for all fighters because of his style.
“He moved a lot. Fighters who move a lot and have good speed are really hard. He is a good fighter, but I have more weapons in my arsenal. I’m glad I have had another defence. Of course, I want unification fights. I still want them. I haven’t had a chance to fight for another belt, this is why I defend my belt.
“I’d like to fight for another belt, it would be a good challenge for me. I believe I can become the Undisputed World Champion one day, this is why I train, that’s why I have a good team. I believe one day I will be if I train hard. Thanks to everyone who supports me and watched this fight.”
Johnny Fisher moved to 2-0 as he stopped Swindon’s Phil Williams in the third round with a barrage of hurtful punches.
‘The Romford Bull’ gave another impressive display of his raw power, forcing the referee to step in after a sustained assault.
“I thought it was brilliant to get out on such short notice,” Fisher told Matchroom. “Credit to Sam Jones and Eddie Hearn for getting the fight there for me. Phil Williams is an awkward and tough opponent; he’s only been stopped four or five times in 30 bouts. Awkward fight, but I got him out of there and I showed I could go three rounds and keep a high pace.
“I’m trying to find the balance between having that killer instinct and sitting behind my boxing. Sometimes in there you probably get caught between the two. As I progress, I’ll be able to use that killer instinct more effectively. It was an awkward fight, but I showed that I’ve got the strength and the power to stop people. I stopped him in the third round. We’ll go against for the next one as soon as we can.
“If you stay ready, you’ll get opportunities, especially at Matchroom and with S-JAM Boxing. I showed I can turn up and get the job done. I’m very grounded. I played rugby for a long time. That teaches you a lot of discipline. I’ve got family and a support network who believe in me. They always tell me the truth as well, and I’ll always be truthful about my own performances.
“It’s all systems go, ready for the next one. I’ve got to get that jab off, because in the gym it’s coming off lovely. When you get under them lights, you can have a bit of eagerness. I’ve only had four amateur senior fights and I’ve got a long way to go in the professional ranks.”
James Tennyson was dropped and stopped as Mexico’s Jovanni Straffon produced a stunning first-round victory to claim the vacant IBO Lightweight World Title.
The Belfast man was stunned by an early onslaught from Straffon, who dropped Tennyson heavily and then forced referee Michael Alexander to wave the fight off after just two minutes and ten seconds.
“I dreamed about this several years ago,” Straffon told Matchroom. “I know I was up against everything. I knew he was a very strong fighter. He called himself ‘The Assassin’, but he was assassinated. He punches hard, but nothing punches harder than life.
“It has been a very good year for Mexican boxing. There has been lots of surprises and upsets. I’m not really surprised about what happened. I have been well prepared for a year. I knew I was the big underdog but now I’m the winner.
“I would really like the opportunity to work with Eddie Hearn. I would like to thank my manager and promoter. I hope some really good things are coming my way. I believe I just won an opportunity to get some of the tough and big names out there. Don’t give up on anything, always keep on dreaming because dreams do come true.”
Former British Super-Welterweight Champion Scott Fitzgerald ended his lengthy absence from the ring with a third-round stoppage of Frenchman Gregory Trenel in the opening bout of the evening.
Fitzgerald hadn’t boxed since landing the British Title against Ted Cheeseman back in October 2019, and returned at Super-Middleweight as he continues to work his way back down to 154lbs.
In his post fight interview, the unbeaten Preston talent reiterated his desire to rematch one of his former opponents Ted Cheeseman or Anthony Fowler by the end of the year.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Fitzgerald told Matchroom. “There were times I thought I wouldn’t get back here. To get back in there and come out with a stoppage is a great feeling. I was whacking some shots off his head, and at some points he was smiling. I could see he was tough. At the end he wasn’t looking to throw back and I was hitting him with some big shots. The body shots were hurting him. I think it was the right decision from the ref.
“I’ve already lost a fair bit of weight to get down to 12 stone. If I’m out again in July I can be under eleven and a half stone and ready for a big one then. October time, under eleven stone then. I’ve 100% learnt my lessons. I just keep the right people around me. I’ll keep my eyes on the mission. No messing about.
“I’d like to win the British Title back by the end of 2021. That’s what I’m hoping for. Cheeseman, I’m sure he’d be happy to fight me again as I’ve already beaten him. That’s a way back in for me. I’m going to keep chipping away at this weight and get myself ready. The first fight with Anthony Fowler was a great fight and everyone enjoyed it, the public enjoyed it and I know they all want to see it again. If it’s right to happen before the end of the year, I’m ready for it.”