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Fight Picks: Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker

Joshua (left) and Parker. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire URN:34484031
29
Mar

This Saturday, IBF and WBA heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua will meet WBO counterpart Joseph Parker, at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.

This eagerly awaited unification bout came to fruition after lots of verbal jousting over the Christmas holidays. Since then both camps have continued to trade barbs, however, the fighters have kept their cool and been respectful.

Joshua (20-0, 20 knockouts) earned huge acclaim, winning gold at the 2012 Olympics before turning professional in late 2013. The hard-hitting Englishman progressed quickly, winning British and Commonwealth championships before his handlers saw an opportunity to match him against IBF titleholder Charles Martin, who he promptly stopped in two rounds.

Since then, the 28-year-old boxer-puncher has continued to improve and he answered a lot of questions about his fighting heart when he got off the canvas to stop Wladimir Klitschko in THE RING Magazine Fight of the Year.

Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) also comes from a strong amateur foundation. He took bronze at the World Youth Games and silver at the Youth Olympics before turning professional in July 2012. Parker quickly earned a reputation as one of the best young heavyweights around and despite fighting predominantly in New Zealand, his training camps take place in Las Vegas where he gets expert sparring under the supervision of trainer Kevin Barry.

The 26-year-old Parker won the vacant WBO title after scoring a 12-round majority decision over Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2015. He has defended twice, scoring points decisions over Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury.

Predictably, both fighters told the assembled media that victory will be theirs at a press conference on Tuesday. “I win by knockout, 100 percent,” said Joshua bluntly. Parker countered by saying, “I’m not here for a payday. I’m here to take those belts back with me.”

How will Parker deal with the biggest occasion of his career? Will the elbow surgery he had last year improve his power or leave him rusty? Will Parker’s brain trust, led by David Higgins, pull something out of the bag. Rumor has it that former champion Tyson Fury will walk Parker into the ring.

Online gambling group bet365.com lists Joshua as a 1-8 (-800) favorite while Parker is priced at 11-2 (+550).

Here’s how the experts see it:

THE RING MAGAZINE/ RINGTV.COM

TOM GRAY: JOSHUA TKO 6
Joshua is taller, longer and heavier. Parker is more mobile and known for being durable. I expect Joshua to control the action behind a powerful jab, while looking to setup power shots. Parker will move, change the angles and look to score with quick raids. I think the New Zealander will have moderate success early on, but sooner or later a big shot is going to land flush, then the writing will be on the wall. I can see the referee stopping the fight with Parker on his feet absorbing more than what is necessary.

LEE GROVES: JOSHUA KO 10
I believe the early rounds will be a war of nerves because each respects the other’s power and because of the magnitude of the moment in their respective careers as well as the surroundings in which that moment will take place. However, there will be a time in which the first big punch will land and I think Joshua will be the one to do it. From there, I believe Joshua will methodically break down Parker and stop him in the later rounds.

MICHAEL WOODS: JOSHUA KO
Joseph Parker was on the short list as one of the next gen heavyweights to watch, with believers putting forth the notion that he’d be a future star. That was three years ago and, while he has a belt, he’s not a star. That would change if he were to beat Anthony Joshua, but he won’t. A.J is too damn athletic and strong for a guy I still don’t forgive, for making me sit through those dreadful rounds versus Hughie Fury. A.J will stop Parker, round 8 or 9.

TOM GERBASI: JOSHUA
Simply put, Joshua is the better fighter and for that reason alone, he’ll get the job done. But I have a feeling Parker may surprise some people and will deliver his best effort to date. It won’t get him the win, but it will provide some dicey moments for Joshua before the final bell.

NORM FRAUENHEIM: JOSHUA TKO
There’ s a lot to like about Joseph Parker. He’s poised and personable. His background is compelling. But poise, personality and a good back story aren’t skills, and Joshua simply has more of those to offset the temptation to think Parker can spring an upset. Within the ropes, one word more than any other is used to describe Parker: Durable. That’s often code for average. Durability is there, to be sure. He’s never been off his feet. Guess here: Parker will remain upright, yet left exhausted and defenseless against Joshua, who will pound out a late-round TKO with more skill and a lot more power.

MARTIN MULCAHY: JOSHUA TKO
Anthony Joshua enjoys every imaginable and real advantage, so unless Joshua gets overconfident, as his predecessor Lennox Lewis did on occasion, I do not see him losing the unification bout. Joshua has shown he can elevate his game while Parker has yet to be tested on the level of Joshua, and it should be far a step on foreign soil. At this time, I only see someone with superior speed besting Joshua. I don’t believe Parker has the firepower to consistently pressure Joshua either, and by the fourth round he will be on his back foot and in survival mode. The question for me is whether there will be a stoppage? I am tipping yes, and in the championship rounds.

RYAN SONGALIA: JOSHUA KO
I like Anthony Joshua in this, and by knockout. Don’t get me wrong, Joseph Parker is a solid fighter with boxing skills as good as anyone’s in the heavyweight division, but Joshua is another level physically and I don’t think Parker has the power to hold Joshua off for 12 rounds. Look for Joshua to deal with Parker’s boxing skill early on before powering through for a late knockout.

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: JOSHUA TKO 9
Intriguing fight with both meeting opponents who are close to their physical prime. Much has been made of Joshua’s weight and I suspect he’ll come in lighter than he has for a while. How will Parker deal with the big occasion? I believe he may give Joshua trouble with his movement early, but can he land something to dent the Brit’s forward charge? Parker’s jab will give Joshua trouble but A.J will be causing his own damage and that will take its toll on the gallant New Zealander who will be stopped from a barrage in the ninth round.

GARETH A. DAVIES: JOSHUA TKO 9
I see Anthony Joshua winning. I think his own prediction between five and nine rounds is accurate, but I think Parker will go for broke early. He’s got two game plans; he’ll try knocking Joshua out early, if not he’ll try to win on points on the backfoot. I think Joshua’s experience in his last two fights, going 21 rounds (combined against Klitschko and Carlos Takam) and coming back from the knockdown against Klitschko make him the favorite to win the fight, but don’t rule out Parker winning. Joshua TKO nine rounds.

BOXING INSIDERS

JOLENE MIZZONE (MATCHMAKER): PARKER UD
I know Joshua has the power and it’s going to be hard for Parker to win a decision in Joshua’s backyard, but I have to lean towards Parker for the simple fact that I think he fought a little better competition coming up. Yes, Joshua fought the man to beat, but he wasn’t in his prime at the time. If Joshua stops Parker I will stand corrected. Either way great fight for the boxing fans!

KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER): JOSHUA SD
I think that Parker will turn out to be Joshua’s toughest opponent yet. If this fight were not taking place in the U.K., I might even pick Parker to win. I believe that he is quite underrated and has not been given nearly enough credit for his past performances. However, Parker will not only be fighting Joshua; he will be fighting the crowd and the judging, as well as the enormity of the whole situation. Joshua, on the other hand, will be very comfortable fighting, as always, in a very friendly environment. So, while I believe that Parker is certainly skilled enough to defeat Joshua, none of the intangibles are on his side. Therefore, I am picking Joshua. But I can’t wait to see the fight. It is quite intriguing. I guess a unanimous decision is the most likely outcome, so I’ll will go with slit decision.

ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER): JOSHUA TKO 8
I am a big fan of AJ and it will be very difficult to beat him. (The fighter who can beat him) will need to possess speed and power; speed in order to get in and out, and power in order to keep AJ honest and on the defensive. Parker is a tough man and is champion, so that must be respected but does not have the speed, skills or power to pull it off. I see a few rounds of respect and caution, but come the fifth round the fight breaks out and after a few rounds of dominance AJ closes the show via 8th round TKO.

JOHN BENINATI (MATCHMAKER): JOSHUA KO 10
Joshua late stoppage. Parker has ability and is younger and might be the better athlete. However, Joshua is the bigger puncher and bigger man. They both fought Takam; Parker had some trouble and Joshua KO’d him in 10. Couple that with where the fight is, Joshua KO 10.

SEAN GIBBONS (MATCHMAKER): JOSHUA
I like Anthony Joshua to win a decision or late round stoppage. Joshua is a very big strong athletic fighter. Parker is a slow plodding fighter and that plays into Anthony Joshua’s style.

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-WEIGHT WORLD TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): JOSHUA KO
Boxing today is about entertainment and Joshua vs. Parker fits the bill nicely. Two unbeaten world champions in a sold out 80,000-seat stadium. In my opinion, AJ’s first real test against an undefeated champion who has no fear and is on the right side of 30 years old. If AJ can’t put Parker away inside eight rounds then Parker takes a points decision.

BARRY JONES (FORMER WORLD TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): JOSHUA KO
I’m going for a predictable Joshua stoppage in a fight that, yet again, he might not have everything his own way and might possibly have to get off the floor to win. I think Parker is a good all-rounder but a little bit ponderous and not massively adaptable. You have to feel he will go straight at Joshua and try to test what he calls ‘Joshua’s glass chin’ and I think that will be just will what Joshua wants. So I go for a Joshua late stoppage, where he has a few testing rounds before catching Parker coming forward. He then goes for that big finish and gets it anywhere from round nine.

PEDRO DIAZ (TRAINER): JOSHUA
It’s a good fight, because two good fighters face each other. I think Joshua is in a good moment of his career. I do not think he has problems to achieve victory.

VICTOR SILVA (TV ANALYST): JOSHUA KO
There is no doubt that Joshua vs. Parker will be a fight with a lot of power in both sides – 100 KO percentage vs. 75 KO percentage. Parker is very offensive, always going forward, but he is not a one-punch KO fighter. He hasn’t had great performances versus big guys and he receives a lot of punches. Joshua knows his weapons very well. He has a 6-inch advantage in reach and with an opponent with a weak defense, he definitely will go for the KO. I don’t believe we will get the late rounds and Joshua will come out with his hand up.

TONY TOLJ (MANAGER): JOSHUA UD
I see it as an epic battle – the irresistible object versus the Immovable force. Something’s gotta give. Joshua for me has the better pedigree and it was proven against Klitschko that he can overcome adversity. I haven’t seen Parker swim in the deep water yet. So, in front of an expected 80,000 AJ fans, Joshua for the win, 8-4 UD.

PAULIE MALIGNAGGI (FORMER TWO-WEIGHT WORLD TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): JOSHUA KO
I favor Joshua, but I would not be shocked if Parker has a go of it, much like Ortiz did to Wilder. I think Parker has some nimble qualities to his style that could trouble Joshua. Overall, though, Joshua’s fundamental qualities get him through. Although in heavyweight boxing one punch can make all the difference, Joshua has shown the character, resilience and tenacity to overcome adversity. I believe Parker has to take the fight late to have some chance, but it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with the atmosphere in the stadium early on because things like that do play a part on your emotions even in subtle ways. Joshua KO, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Parker have his moments as well.

TONY BORG (TRAINER): JOSHUA KO
I think Joshua is going to be too big all round for him and too good. He’s a very skilled boxer; devastating jab, right hand will finish the best of heavyweights and I don’t think Parker is big enough or mobile enough to stay there in there. I think Joshua in about eight or nine rounds.

MATTHEW MACKLIN (FORMER THREE-TIME WORLD TITLE CHALLENGER/TV ANALYST): JOSHUA UD
I think it’ll be a good fight. A lot of people are saying Joshua knockout and it wouldn’t surprise me cause he’s really coming into his peak. But I think you’ve got to give Joseph Parker a lot of credit. He’s coming in as a reigning world champion, he’s 26-years-old, in his physical prime, confident, he’ll believe in himself. Why wouldn’t he? He’s never been down, good chin, very well-conditioned fighter. I’m not sure Joshua stops Parker, although he can probably knock anyone out – he hits so hard. Joshua breaks guys down, he’s not someone who had to knock guys out with one punch. He has a good jab, he sets his shots up, he can hurt you at range and on the inside. But Parker has always looked durable in fights. It could be a distance fight but, however it plays out, I think Joshua has that bit on him. I think he’ll have an answer for whatever Parker brings. I think points, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Joshua stopped him.

ISMAEL SALAS (TRAINER): JOSHUA KO
Now we are in a very good period of heavyweights. We have a few good fights around. It will be competitive early and AJ will win by KO in six or seven rounds.

KAY KOROMA (TRAINER): JOSHUA UD
I think Parker’s people underestimate Joshua’s ability to rise when he’s in danger and use his mind, not his heart. Parker has never had to face that in his career. I think it will be a decision and I feel Joshua will win.

Final tally: 23-1 in favor of Anthony Joshua

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

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