By Keith Idec
Joseph Parker wasn’t trying to blame referee Giussepe Quartarone for his loss to Anthony Joshua.
The former WBO champion just thinks Quartarone should’ve allowed him and Joshua to fight inside when those opportunities arose Saturday night in Cardiff, Wales. Italy’s Quartarone drew criticism from Parker’s team, television commentators and fans for his extremely hands-on approach to separating Parker and Joshua throughout their 12-round heavyweight title unification fight at Principality Stadium.
Quartarone was very quick to step between England’s Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) and New Zealand’s Parker (24-1, 18 KOs) whenever the slightest clinch was initiated. He also came between the fighters unnecessarily several times during a mostly uneventful fight Joshua won by unanimous decision.
“We’re not blaming the ref,” Parker said during the post-fight press conference, “but when we were on the inside and trying to work, he [motions to separate them]. We tried to communicate with the ref, but he didn’t really speak English. But I wanted to work on the inside. I guess if I was on the inside, I could’ve done more and could’ve thrown a bit more punches. But the ref did his job.”
Kevin Barry, Parker’s trainer, contended communication with Quartarone was difficult because the referee doesn’t understand English well enough. Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, said later during the press conference that they were able to understand Quartarone perfectly fine.
“Look, obviously when one guy’s got a 76-inch reach and the other guy’s got an 84 or 85,” Barry said, “it’s very important for us, when we do close the distance, that we’re able to work. And unfortunately for us, the referee didn’t allow us to do that. I tried to speak to him when he came out of the back, and he had no idea or understanding of the question I asked him … yeah, because of the language.
“I knew he was from Italy, but I obviously expected that we’d have a guy that would actually be able to communicate with both the two participants fighting. And when I found out, I actually said to the [British Boxing Board of Control] beforehand, I said, ‘Well, this is going to be great. How am I going to be able to communicate with the referee, the guy in charge of the fight?’ He said, ‘Oh, he’s a very good referee.’ I said, ‘OK.’ ”
Like Parker, Barry acknowledged that Joshua was better than Parker in their fight and deserved to win. David Higgins, Parker’s outspoken co-promoter, didn’t blame Quartarone’s unusual approach for Parker’s defeat, either.
“The referee stuff was interesting,” Higgins said. “Apparently the commentators, the English commentators, they were getting frustrated with the ref pulling the guys apart. But our team signed off the referee. I won’t use that as an excuse. Would we sign him off again? No.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.