SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 30, 2018 – British heavyweight Anthony Joshua has put nearly 250,000 fans in the seats in his last three fights. On Saturday, 78,000 of them will watch the biggest star in boxing put his IBF and WBA titles on the line along with his undefeated record against WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker of New Zealand, who is also undefeated.
It is only the second unification fight between two undefeated heavyweights in modern boxing history. Little wonder the fight is getting so much attention. Showtime Boxing will air the fight live from Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT. The first fight between undefeated heavyweights: Mike Tyson vs. Tony Tucker in 1987.
Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) is arguably boxing’s biggest international star if you factor in the ability to sell tickets. His only rival is Canelo Alvarez of Mexico. Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) is the highest rated opponent he’s faced to date.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is prone to big statements, but this time he’s not exaggerating when he says, “It’s a great fight. Two undefeated young heavyweights. Fearless, fast, big punching, great footwork, 24-0 against 20-0. I think it’s the kind of fight that we need in the world of boxing.”
It’s doubtful the action will live up to the significance of the bout’s outcome.
Parker has something to prove against rising star Joshua
Anthony Joshua is coming off a tenth round TKO win over a game Carlos Takam of France in November. Joseph Parker won a somewhat uninspired majority decision over Hughie Fury of Great Britain in the same month. Joshua’s win followed the 2017 Fight of the Year against longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko, a starmaking turn for the charismatic 28 year old.
Parker’s recent performance against Fury wasn’t inspiring. It came not long after he barely escaped from American Andy Ruiz, a fight many thought Ruiz won. Parker, age 26, has plenty of skills but he needs to prove he deserves his title.
“I feel it’s my time. I’m young, I’m fast, I’m strong and I’m determined to win,” said Parker. He promised he wasn’t in the UK merely for a payday. New Zealand’s first heavyweight champion declared, “I’m here to take those belts back with me. I’m here to be part of history. I’m not doing it just for myself. I’m doing it for my team, my family and my country.”
Joshua is the clear favorite, but he’s saying all the right things about taking Parker seriously. “In my mind, I’m a challenger. Scrap my belts. I’m challenging for the WBO heavyweight championship of the world. I’m hungry. I’m willing to take risks and take him out early.”
Joshua vs. Parker: Power vs. speed
Joshua is right in one respect: boxing can be full of surprises, not all of them good. “I know how easy it is to be forgotten about. I just realize that this is my time, and I have to capitalize and maximize and do what’s right for me. This isn’t about being the fan favorite … I’m here to handle my business in the best way possible, and when it’s all said and done, be content with the decisions I’ve made.”
Parker’s greatest assets are speed and a rock solid chin. Parker hasn’t ever been dropped to the canvas as a professional, and he claims he’s never been dropped as an amateur, either. Parker is nimble enough to move well around the ring, and when he can land shots accurately, he presents a formidable challenge.
Joshua has a 100 percent knockout rate in his 20 professional fights. His power is unquestioned, and he’s also shown himself to be resilient. Joshua can be hit and he certainly can be dropped as both Dillian Whyte and Wladimir Klitschko discovered. But in both cases, Joshua kept his wits about him, weathered the storm and came back to win. Resilient may be the single most underrated skill in boxing.
Parker says he wants a war, and Joshua says bring it on
Parker claims he’s going to make the fight a war. Joshua says that’s good news. “I’m not a model of Tyson, I’m more of a model of Lennox. I will break you down. If you get him hurt early, brilliant. But if not, don’t look for it because it will come. I may not be the fastest but I have ring generalship. I set up traps and I can counterpunch,” said Joshua.
Despite the talk, Parker would be crazy to engage in a brawl with Joshua. Instead, he needs to measure the distance, use angles, and move in and out to strike Joshua and then step out of his way. Parker can pile up damage little by little if he can frustrate Joshua, and it will add up. He can look for Joshua to make a mistake and move in. Parker doesn’t have one punch power, so he needs to wear down the British champion to have any chance of stopping him. But in enemy territory, Parker will have to win definitively to take it on the judges’ scorecards.
Joshua has the power and brash confidence to end the fight early. If Parker hits Joshua flush early in the fight without hurting him, it will encourage Joshua to pour on the hard punches and go for the early stoppage. It will thrill the home crowd and send a strong message to his American counterpart Deontay Wilder, who has the remaining title, the WBC heavyweight championship.
Ringside Seat’s prediction for Joshua vs. Parker
Anthony Joshua weighed in at 242.2 pounds, and Joseph Parker weighed in at 236.7 pounds. Both shaved off 10 pounds from their last fights.
We aren’t swimming against the tide on this one. Joshua has proven he’s the real deal. Parker has struggled in recent fights, and though he looks fit, we won’t believe it till we see it. We see this as a fourth round TKO for Joshua.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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