Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KO) against Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KO), the Brit’s first big fight of 2018. Both will put their heavyweight world title belts on the line tonight in front of a sell-out crowd ringside and many more watching across the world in one of the most highly anticipated fights of 2018.
Parker, 26, is putting his WBO belt on the line while Joshua, 28, is defending his WBA and IBF titles in a winner-takes-all fight.
The fight will be broadcast in the United States on Showtime at 5 pm (EST). Here are the 10 things you should know about this event.
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A crowd of 78,000-plus is expected to attend the Joshua-Parker clash in Cardiff. It’ll mark the third consecutive fight Joshua has headlined with more than 70,000 fans on hand. For Parker, this will be the first time he’s performed in front of such a large crowd.
Parker insists he’ll be able to handle the atmosphere:
“Even though it’s a phenomenal atmosphere there is one ring, one referee,” said Parker per BBC. “If I’m in any arena, you just have to simplify the madness and the chaos.” Still, it’s a possibility Parker could be unnerved by raucous, pro-Joshua crowd. This will undoubtedly be his most significant opponent and toughest professional environment.
The only common opponent on Joshua and Parker’s record is Carlos Takam. Both men defeated the rugged African-Frenchman, but Joshua’s win can via 10th-round stoppage–though it was a controversial one. Most believe Takam could have continued and there were loud whispers that the fight was stopped to preserve Joshua’s perfect KO streak.
Joshua dropped Takam in the fourth round and was still on his way to a clear unanimous-decision win.
Parker did beat Takam by unanimous decision in May 2016, and the bout was much closer. In fact, one judge had Parker winning by just two points. Sometimes, there’s nothing of substance to take from the common opponents section of my 10 Things articles, but in this case, I believe there is.
Joshua’s handling of Takam and his performances against a steadily escalating level of opposition proves he is improving as a fighter. Parker’s relative struggle with Takam and competitiveness with some of the other opponents he’s faced in the past three years–as the competition has increased–would imply he may have plateaued.
That could be a bad sign ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Last Time Out
Joshua had a few small issues with Takam, who is very reminiscent of Dwight Muhammad Qawi with his low center of gravity, toughness and hard inside counter shots. However, Joshua has continued to show toughness and poise against the likes of Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko, and Takam.
While the stoppage was premature, Joshua still clearly showed himself to be the superior fighter as he bloodied and dropped Takam before the ref stepped in to call a halt to the bout.
Parker’s last fight wasn’t quite as impressive. In fact, I scored his majority decision victory over Hughie Fury for the latter. I thought Fury outboxed him for most of the fight with Parker only having a few moderately exciting moments with the right hand.
Granted, it was a tough fight to score, but I thought the nimble and crafty Fury made Parker look silly at times.
Unlike most of Joshua’s opponents, Parker has quick hands and good feet. Many of Joshua’s opponents have been of the lumbering variety. Parker’s athleticism and penchant for throwing combinations are his biggest weapons.
That said, he could have a devil of a time closing the distance. In addition to Joshua’s two-inch height advantage, the leaner Joshua will also enjoy a six-inch edge in reach. Depending on the style of fight Joshua elects to fight, he could essentially control this bout from the outside without putting himself in much danger during inside exchanges.
Joshua has shown some vulnerability to the left hook so you can bet Parker will be looking to land that shot.
The Night Will Be Going Well For Joshua If…
He is the aggressor and he’s setting the tone with his jab. The nerves could be a real thing for Parker. Joshua looks lean and ready to make a statement against an opponent he respects but desperately wants to stop.
The Night Will Be Going Well For Parker If…
He is making Joshua uncomfortable early with his speed and finding a home for his left hook. He should also invest in body shots. That is something few, if any, Joshua opponents have had the heart to do in his young career.
The Gloves Are Off is an excellent series from Sky Sports, and in this segment, Joshua and Parker sit face to face with Johnny Nelson asking the perfect questions. However, the most poignant question comes from Joshua at the 3:56 mark. “Are you going to knock me out?”
Take a look at the video to see what could be the telling response.
What A Win Would Mean For Joshua
A victory would further solidify Joshua as perhaps the sport’s biggest star. This would likely be his last non-pay-per-view fight broadcast in the United States, and that’s even if he doesn’t fight WBC champion Deontay Wilder in his next bout.
He’d hold three-fourths of the world titles and he’d likely be the favorite to unify the belts once he has a chance to fight for the WBC strap.
What A Win Would Mean For Parker
Parker would be the sport’s newest star. He’d hold three titles and be guaranteed a big-money rematch with Joshua. He’d be in a position to set himself up for life after pulling off a memorable upset. Needless to say, this is a massive fight.
– Brian Mazique I Forbes