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Boxing | International

Parker defends against sparring partner

WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker from New Zealand makes the first defence of his belt when he meets sparring partner Razvan Cojanu of Romania at the Vodafone Centre in Manukaua City, New Zealand, on Saturday night.

Parker, 25, was originally supposed to meet mandatory challenger, Britain’s Hughie Fury, but the fight was postponed when Fury injured his back.

The unknown Cojanu, 25, who is based in Burbank, California, and ranked at number 14 by the WBO, has spent two camps with Parker, first before Parker’s fight with Alexander Dimitrenko in October last year and for his cancelled fight with Fury.

Parker, 25, won the WBO belt on a majority decision against Andy Ruiz Jr in December last year and Cojanu’s last fight was also in December last year when he knocked out Zhiyu Wu (7-1) in the second round.

The champion has won 18 of his 22 fights inside the distance since making his pro debut in July 2012, and the only time he had to go the distance was against Bruce Ritani Coe, Sherman Williams, Carlos Takam and Ruiz.

Parker does have a leaky defence at times but has power with an 82 percent knockout ratio and good hand speed.

Cojanu has arecord of 16-2; 9, with his two losses coming against Alvaro Morales on points over four rounds in March 2011, when he made his pro debut, and a second-round knockout against Donavan Dennis in April 2015.

He subsequently reversed the decision against Morales in July 2013, winning on a majority four-round points decision.

Having spent a considerable time together in the sparring ring, Parker should know enough about his challenger to finish him off inside the distance.

The only possibly advantage that Cojanu has going into the fight is that he is the taller of the two.

On the undercard, in a light-heavyweight contest, Umar Salamov (18-0; 13) meets Bosnia and Herzegovina-born Emil Markic (24-1; 19) over ten rounds.


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