On Saturday, March 31st, the WBA and IBF world champion Anthony Joshua will look to make the first step in unifying the heavyweight division against New Zealander Joseph Parker in the first major boxing bout of 2018. The fight, taking place at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, will likely see the winner match up against America’s Deontay Wilder where all four world titles will be at stake. It’ll be the first time two reigning heavyweight world champions have met in Britain with Parker being the current WBO champion.
How did this happen?
The two heavyweights have been on a collision course for some time. Joshua has claimed two of the four world titles since turning pro after the 2012 London Olympics. Parker, who turned pro a year earlier, has just the one belt, so they finally agreed to fight after a heated negotiation process.
The build up
The Principality was the location for Joshua’s previous bout in which he successfully defended his titles against Frenchman Carlos Takam after a highly controversial 10th round stoppage.
Both Joshua and Parker remain undefeated up to this point. AJ goes into the fight with his 100% KO record fully intact, boasting 20 knockouts from 20 fights. Parker, meanwhile, has had 24 fights registering 18 knockouts along the way.
Parker has voiced his opinions on Joshua’s ‘glass chin’ stating: “All we have said is that Joshua has a glass chin. He knows it, everybody knows it, they just don’t want to talk about it’. …If I get him in the trouble Klitschko had him in, there’s no chance for him. I’ll go in fast, I’ll go in hard, and I’ll go in for the kill. He won’t be able to recover against me.’
These warnings have not been taken lightly by Joshua who is refusing to think about any potential fights beyond Parker. “People are talking about Wilder. I’m not. That’s not my focus’, Joshua told Sky Sports.
Many have written off Joseph Parker and, over the last couple of weeks, talk of a potential showdown between Wilder and Joshua have taken front seat. However, Parker still poses plenty of problems for the Watford born fighter.
Who’s the favourite?
The bookies have Joshua as heavy favourite. Many boxers and boxing experts also see Joshua as the likely victor with the 28-year-old gaining the support of Carl Froch and Deontay Wilder. Eddie Hearn has claimed Joshua sees Parker as a tougher challenge than Deontay Wilder.
When is the Fight?
The fight will take place on 31st March on Sky Sports Box Office with ring-walks scheduled for 8:00pm though this depends on the undercard. Get down to your Last Orders* to watch AJ back in action again!
*Selected venues only