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06th May 2017

Anthony Joshua will not have been impressed by Joseph Parker’s WBO title defence

Needed to show much more than that

Darragh Murphy

Joseph Parker flattered to deceive in the first defence of his WBO heavyweight title.

Parker just about remains on track for a big-money unification showdown with Anthony Joshua after a lacklustre unanimous decision victory over late replacement Răzvan Cojanu in Auckland.

Following Hughie Fury’s withdrawal from the WBO heavyweight title fight less than three weeks ago, one of Parker’s main sparring partners answered the call to replace the injured Brit.

Having spent several rounds training with Parker, Romania’s Cojanu felt that he knew enough about the undefeated New Zealander to cause the upset but it wasn’t to be on Saturday afternoon.

Parker extended his perfect professional record to 23-0 but it wasn’t a performance that will have struck fear in the hearts of the heavyweight division’s elite.

Cojanu seemed to be enjoying his time in the ring with a world champion, as he laughed through shots and spoke to Parker throughout.

A 1/200 favourite to get the victory, Parker never truly had his opponent in danger over 12 rounds and given the stunning showing by Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko less than a week earlier in Wembley Stadium, the lack of quality in Parker vs. Cojanu was blinding.

The contest had the tangible feel of a sparring session, with neither man seemingly all that interested in a finish as long breaks were taken over 36 minutes of ugly, ugly boxing.

Having been afforded the perfect shop window in which to audition for the multi-million pound meeting with Joshua, Parker simply didn’t seize the opportunity.

Joshua certainly won’t have been impressed by what he saw from the 25-year-old and, in all likelihood, Parker could well struggle to make a case that he deserves ‘AJ’ next as the likes of Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte and Tony Bellew will be eager to receive the chance to fight for WBO gold against Parker, who looked considerably below the grade this weekend.