banner

Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker - 5 Pub Talking Points

Anthony Joshua is aiming to move one step closer to becoming the first undisputed heavyweight of the world since 1999 when he faces Joseph Parker on Saturday.
 
Here we look ahead to an evening of boxing at the Principality Stadium that couldn't be much more blockbuster if Bob Holness was MC'ing and everyone got a VHS of the event to take home, with the proviso they drop it back a week later.
 
Who is Joseph Parker?
 
There has been so much talk in the last few weeks about a colossal meeting between Joshua and WBC Champion Deontay Wilder later this year that the fact Joshua must first overcome Parker has somewhat flown under the radar.
 
Parker, who trains out of Las Vegas, is not travelling across the Atlantic to make up one of the 80,000 people that will be in attendance, but to win and ruin Joshua's carefully manicured masterplan for world domination.
 
Had Parker not missed out on a place at the 2012 Olympics, Saturday's meeting could have actually been the second time the duo have shared a ring. Instead, Parker turned professional that summer, while Joshua went on to win gold in London.
 
Parker has won all 24 of his fights since quitting the day job in July 2012, with 18 by way of knockout. While relatively untested, the Kiwi is certainly not someone Joshua can underestimate.
 
He will be one of the quickest and most durable boxers Joshua will ever face and has the tools to at least give the home favourite some problems. 
 
While others are already overlooking Parker, Joshua is aware that his opponent needs respecting. He has even described this fight as 'technically harder' than a potential match-up with Wilder, despite the Yank's insistence that he's the world's finest.
 
Parker has certainly talked a good game in the build-up to this fight, but now, as Joshua has already alluded to, must back it up in the ring. Once the first bell sounds, gameplans can fly out of the window, particularly in a fight of this magnitude. 
 
How Good Is He?
 
Much of the intrigue surrounding this bout lies in the relative mystery of Parker. Whilst anyone with one of the big four belts slung over his shoulder is clearly no mug, the softly spoken Kiwi has hardly set the world alight since becoming the first Pacific Islander to land a world title. 
 
Failure to knock out Razvan Cojanu, ranked 78th in the world by BoxRec at the time, in his first defence was widely panned before he beat Hughie Fury last time out on points in an underwhelming showing that brought to mind the career of Emile Heskey - decent speed and a heap of effort let down by plenty of seriously wayward shots.
 
Having mainly fought in the relative backwaters of New Zealand, we're still to truly see what Parker is made of against world class opposition
 
Joshua's CV, whilst of a similar length, boasts a string of ruthless finishes against mediocre opposition and of course his epoch ending defeat of a genuine great in Klitschko.
 
What's On The Line?
 
Joshua, currently the WBA and IBF heavyweight champion, has two men standing of the way of an undisputed status no heavyweight has held since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
 
Parker has made two defences of his WBO belt since winning the vacant title in December 2016. The 26-year-old, like Joshua, is putting his unbeaten record on the line this weekend and it's the first heavyweight championship clash of its kind since 1987, when an unbeaten Mike Tyson took Tony Tucker's 0 in Las Vegas. 
 
Joshua will pocket a career-high payday against Parker, with the 2012 Olympian reportedly set to take home in excess of £20m, whether he is victorious or not.
 
Parker, by contrast, will bank around £13m, which will be the biggest payday in the history of New Zealand sports.
 
Parker's purse paints a stark picture of just what a BNOC Joshua has become in recent years - the Kiwi's previous biggest packet was the £1.1m he pocketed up for seeing off Fury minor in Manchester last September in a fight that wasn't even picked up by a major broadcaster, instead being streamed on YouTube.
 
Weight And See
 
After weighing in at a career-high 18st 2lbs in November in his last fight, all eyes will be on Joshua this Friday when he hits the scales.
 
It has been a subject of intense speculation in the weeks leading up to Saturday's showdown, but Joshua has so far refused to confirm whether he has shed any timber.
 
Joshua hasn't taken this route to play mind games with Parker, but simply because of the way things panned out in his last outing.
 
Prior to facing Carlos Takam, it was suggested by Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn that the 20-0 superstar would be lighter than he was when he fought Wladimir Klitschko in April (17st 12lbs). 
 
Rather than trimming down, Joshua came in heavier and the 28-year-old does not want to 'jinx' anything here. While Joshua has been coy on the topic, no surprises are expected this time around.
 
He has looked visibly leaner in training and Joshua will hope that translates into a more dynamic and explosive performance against Parker, who tipped the scales at 17st 7lbs in his last fight. 
 
What Next For The Winner?
 
Both men will only be focused on the task at hand, but their respective teams will already have eyes on the future. The natural path for the winner will be a huge unification clash with Wilder at the end of the year, but that might not necessarily be next. 
 
If Joshua comes through Parker, as he is expected to do, then Hearn has suggested the Briton could first make his US debut against American Jarrell Miller in August.
 
Hearn, a master of building fights, believes that in order to make the meeting with Wilder as big (read profitable) as possible, Joshua needs exposure in the US, while Wilder needs to build his own brand in the UK.
 
Whatever happens, I just hope Wilder continues to make these terribly spooky/unwittingly hilarious call out videos.
 
 

A post shared by Deontay Wilder (@bronzebomber) on

 
While Joshua has been granted opportunities to unify the division, sooner or later he will have to deal with his mandatory obligations with the WBA.
 
Alexander Povetkin is rated the No.1 challenger by the WBA and a fight between Joshua and the winner of his clash with David Price, which features on Saturday's undercard, will likely be called.
 
Perhaps thinking more cynically, the money men could be holding off on shooting their wad on a unification fight with the American brawler for now. Were Joshua to dispatch both Parker and Wilder in the next year there's a real question of 'who next?'.
 
Understandable scepticism remains about Tyson Fury's ability to return to the level he was at, if at all, and the chasing pack of heavyweights looks l light on prospects ready to step up to world level anytime soon.
 
The last thing Hearn and co. want is to have the most marketable British sports star since David Beckham on their hands but no one of similar stature left to challenge him for the next couple of years.
 
The bizarre, heavily stage-managed circus of Mayweather v McGregor aside, few things kill fan appetite and thus revenues quite like uncompetitive mismatches - ticket and PPV sales for Mayweather v Berto being a classic case in point.
 
As for Parker, should he pull off a stunning upset, the Kiwi has already confirmed his intentions are to get back in the ring with Joshua and prove it was not a fluke.
 
One thing we do know for sure is this is an event not to be watched at home. Click to find out which nearby are pubs showing Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker and get ready for another huge night for British boxing.
 
MatchPint: Like/Follow

Cover image - PA.