Joseph Parker begged for this heavyweight unification fight against Anthony Joshua, and following months of preparation and training, the bell is set to ring on Sunday morning AEST.
As the IBO, WBO and IBF champion of the world, Anthony Joshua is the heavyweight division.
With the sort physique usually reserved for something closer to a Greek God than a boxer coming out a council estate in Watford, Joshua’s dominance has been breath of fresh air for a division that had become stale.
He’s never been forced to go the distance in his 20-fight professional career; there’s only one occasion where he’s even touched the canvas. In all 20 fights, his opponent has seen stars earning him a 100% KO rate.
With his usual power, size and reach advantage, it’s no surprise to see Joshua opening as a heavy favourite at $1.17 to beat Joseph Parker on Sunday. He’s the more established fighter and will have 85,000 fans behind him in a packed out Principality Stadium.
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) March 27, 2018
Expected to finish the fight on his own, Joshua to win via KO barely carries any more value at just $1.40.
He’s insinuated we’re going to see him pick his shots better than he ever has before. While that could just be another way of saying he’s going to knock Parker out, there’ a good chance we could see Joshua sit behind his jab and use his reach advantage all night.
He doesn’t need to take any risks to win this fight. Taking it on points ($5) and signing up for another multi-million dollar rematch is a business decision Joshua and his team will have surely considered.
That’s not to say he’s turning up and expecting to win, though.
Joshua is the bigger man, but he’s not taking that for granted, saying himself: “it’s not really like the size of the dog, it’s the fight in the dog and he’s [Parker] got that fight.”
In a further sign of respect for the Kiwi-Samoan, Joshua has effectively acknowledged Parker’s superior hand-speed by dropping weight. Looking to improve his stamina and footwork, Joshua is adopting the approach of anticipation and timing beating speed.
He’s going to need the anticipation through the early rounds, in particular.
If Parker is to pull off the upset ($5), the foundations will need to be laid early. Like Klitschko, and to a lesser extent, Carlos Takam, pressure needs to be applied inside the opening five or six rounds if it’s to happen at all for Parker.
Frustrating Joshua and putting him in a position to chase the fight will open him up for Parker to use his trusty left hook and apply the finishing touch with one of his famously fast combinations. We’ve seen Joshua’s chin there to be hit before.
If the KO opportunity doesn’t arise, Parker can get behind the jab and drag Joshua into the later rounds and send it to the judges where he’s paying $15 to win by points or decision.
Given the stages they are at in their career, and the calibre of opponent Joshua has beaten, it’s hard to see him not ending the night with four belts around his waist. He has all the tools to frustrate Parker who has previously struggled for composure when things aren’t going his way.
Joshua has a proven ability to grind and produce a high work-rate through the middle rounds. However, Parker’s chin is like granite. It’s going to take more than a couple of clips for Joshua to send Parker to the floor.
If the Kiwi lasts the first eight rounds, many believe he has an advantage the longer this fight goes. Joshua does look fit, though. There’s a good chance the damage could already be done and he can let the fitter Parker swing for the fences through the final rounds.
Provided he Parker doesn’t connect on a haymaker, Joshua looks good to earn a win via the judge’s scorecards.