Boxing is an unpredictable sport and the best laid plans often go to waste.
When Zach Parker’s team sought out a fight with the excellent John Ryder for the WBO Interim title it was the right fight at the right time. Parker was full of confidence and sitting at the top of the WBO’s super middleweight rankings. Ryder was the respected, well known name who would allow Parker to bounce into a full title fight with ‘Canelo’ Alvarez with real momentum.
The fight had barely begun before Parker badly broke his hand and was retired after just four rounds. Ryder took the Interim belt and moved directly into a massive fight for the undisputed title with the Mexican superstar. Parker was forced to sit on the sofa and watch.
“The surgeon said that if I’d carried on I could have lost my whole career over it because it was only going to get worse if you keep punching. It was a good job that my corner said I couldn’t keep boxing,” Parker told 32Red.
“Now I’m back training all the time it’s done the world of good for my mental health and everything. I’m in a really good place now. Roll on fight night.” For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
“I think losing might have been a good thing for me”
“When I did it, I didn’t know I’d done it. I hit him with another shot and thought, ‘Oh, God. That’s done.’ I’ve never broken a bone in my body, I’ve only dislocated a shoulder but that isn’t like a break. Anyway, we are where we are. I’m back fully fit, I’ve been looking amazing in sparring. I’m hitting hard and can’t wait to get back.”
Whilst Parker has been sat on the sideline for 10 months, during which time the super middleweight division has continued to move. Ryder got the WBO title fight with Canelo. David Benevidez beat Caleb Plant in another massive 168lb clash and fighters like Diego Pacheco, Edgar Berlanga and David Morrell have continued to build their reputations. Parker hasn’t seen anything to cause him too much concern.
“It’s all tied up with Canelo at the moment. You see John Ryder go against him and you can see he’s on the down now. I think you can see age is catching up with him. I think I could have caused him a lot of problems but everything happens for a reason. It happens in sport doesn’t it?” Parker said.
“Styles make fights and John gave a really good account of himself. My fight with him was just playing out the way I wanted it to but you can’t help getting injured. I think I’m still up there with the top guys. I think losing might be a good thing for me. I’ll fight anybody now. Once you lose your ‘0’ you get better chances.
“Caleb Plant’s had another loss against David Benevidez. There’s the Benevidez fight. Even going to light heavyweight, there are a lot of fights up there. I’m keeping my options open.”
“There are big fights out there for me”
One of those light heavyweight options – if Parker and his team had their way – would be Anthony Yarde. Yarde returns from his unified world title defeat to Artur Beterbiev this weekend and will then begin plotting his next attempt at a world title. Parker is in the same situation and would jump at the opportunity to step up in weight and derail the Londoner’s plans.
“I said I’d take it in a heartbeat,” Parker said confidently. “I’ve always said I’ll move up in weight at some point. I’m massive at super middleweight so I’ll keep my options open, see what my manager, Neil Marsh, and promoter, Frank Warren, can get their hands on and go from there.
“Talk is cheap though. You need to back it up. I’ll get a couple of wins on my record and then I’ll be back with the top lads. I wasn’t number one for almost three years for no reason. I think I’ll get better chances now and there are big fights out there for me.”
“They want to see me prove it”
Talk is indeed cheap. Boxing fans can be fickle and fighters are generally only remembered for their last appearance. The dangerous, exciting Parker who climbed to the top of the WBO rankings with five consecutive knockouts has been overshadowed by the memory of him staying on his stool after round four of the fight with Ryder.
Parker got so close to the top of the mountain last time that he could see the summit, now he knows exactly what it will take to do it again.
“I’ve just got to trust the process. I know my level, I just need the platform to show everybody. I saw Canelo against John Ryder. If I was fully fit I’d have beaten John Ryder but people don’t want to hear that. They want to see me prove it and that’s what I’m going to do.”