One of the most interesting prospects in boxing’s heavyweight division returns to action Saturday night, when undefeated Joseph Parker faces journeyman Jason Bergman. The bout will headline a card at the Faleata Sports Complex in Samoa.
Joseph Parker is a New Zealand native who now makes his headquarters in Las Vegas. In 2015, he was 5-0 with five KOs, to improve his record to 17-0 with 15 KOs. He didn’t exactly face world beaters in 2015, but Jason Petteway, Yakup Saglam, Bowie Tupou and Kali Meehan were all experienced, fringe contender/journeymen quality opponents. It’s an impressive group to set up and knock down every couple of months.
At 6’4″ and 235 pounds, Parker has size. The 24-year-old also put together a respectable amateur career, before turning professional. Bergman is a rugged, experienced veteran, but he should be no match for a rising force like Parker. Expect to see Parker emerge as a mandatory contender in 2016.
In another notable heavyweight bout, undefeated 2012 Olympian Dominic Breazeale gets a stiff test against the ageless Amir Mansour on the undercard for Danny Garcia vs. Robert Guerrero. At 43, Mansour is a physical marvel. The only loss of his career was an all-out war with former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham. He drew with unbeaten Gerald Washington in his last fight, but I think he should have won that fight.
Breazeale played quarterback for Northern Colorado State and turned to boxing after finishing school. He lost in the opening round of the Olympics, but simply to have qualified with the level of amateur experience he had compiled so far was an achievement. At 6’7″ and with a reach of 81.5″, he’s got dimensions similar to Deontay Wilder’s, but with 30 more pounds of solid heft.
That doesn’t mean he’s likely to achieve Wilder’s level of success. I’m far from convinced that he’ll get past Mansour. But he’s as legitimate at this point as IBF so-called heavyweight champion Charles Martin. Like Joseph Parker, he’s another worthy heavyweight prospect to watch.