Almost 80,000 fans will witness Saturday’s unification heavyweight bout between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker, live on Sky Sports Box Office/Showtime from Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Will Anthony Joshua score another KO or can Joseph Parker shock the world? For the sake of entertainment for boxing fans across the world let’s hope it’s somewhere in between.
Anthony Joshua is the face of world boxing and the proof is in the pudding, selling nearly an astonishing 250,000 tickets in his last three events. Saturday’s main event is a step towards an undisputed heavyweight champion, a pugilist and fight fans dream scenario.
Realistically speaking, it’s hard not to think this bout represents a prelude to a prelude. The odds are fairly low of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder fighting next. From the sounds of it, the first of a two-bout agreement would take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, which leads us to believe Anthony Joshua will in fact be fighting at the Barclays Center in August according to his promoter Eddie Hearn. Don’t be surprised to see Joshua and/or Wilder get the CBS red-carpet treatment to enhance A.J.’s American profile.
Either way, this unification fight does have plenty of intrigue, maybe not the outcome, rather more in the way of wondering how it plays out in the ring.
Both men are ranting and raving (of course) about their respected training camps, claiming they’re in the best shape of their careers (per usual for boxing). It seems as though Joshua has attempted to slim down some and Parker upped the ante as far as preparation. Obviously we won’t truly know until the fighters step on the scale and mix it up a day later.
A few specific items are on the table helping to decide how and who will be victorious. Joshua’s offensive fundamentals and punching power are the main reason (location as well) the vast majority of pundits side with the London native. On the Parker side, combination punching with good hand speed could impress the judge’s scorecards and contain Joshua offensively.
Another item is stamina, and it definitely is something in serious question for both men. AJ went almost 3 straight rounds being gassed against a faded Wladimir Klitschko. He also showed fatigue versus Dillian Whyte and Carlos Takam.
Addressing the three gasping-for-air Klitschko-rounds, some have claimed Anthony punched himself out going for the knockout after dropping Wladimir. This hack of a scribe thinks differently for two reasons. One, Joshua didn’t throw enough punches to be punched-out in order to need a break. Secondly, how many times have you seen a boxer need almost 3 rounds to recoup from being tired? It didn’t seem like Joshua threw enough combinations to punch himself out, which is obviously not a good sign for what lies ahead.
Joseph Parker’s vulnerability of running on empty usually comes in to play after throwing combinations. Parker tends to work for a portion of the round and as a fight gets into deeper water, fatigue becomes a clear problem. Parker’s fix to his stamina problems may be two-fold, training a tad harder, and changing up the speed and torque of his punches from time to time could serve him well.
Beyond stamina, Anthony Joshua has most of the advantages, save an iron chin, which could still be a question mark for both men. Offensively, Anthony throws a solid jab and does a good job of mixing up his punch variety, but should apply a body attack more in this fight. Parker is the better or at least more frequent combination puncher.
Neither man is known for their defensive prowess Parker has shown us some decent movement but is clearly unable to cut off a ring. Joshua prefers to fight at range, inching forward slowly but steadily as he uses a jab and timing to land his power punches. Not to say Joshua can’t move at all on the outside but if he does choose that game plan it will be subtle circular movement, ala Daniel Jacobs versus Gennady Golovkin.
AJ’s head (upper body in general) movement is suspect to say the least and it’s probably the main weakness that will get him beat at some point. That said, it’s not like Parker is Pernell Whitaker and to be honest is kind of stiff himself.
When breaking down both fighter’s pros and cons, the biggest red flag is Joseph’s lackluster performances in the last few years. Parker barley snuck by Carlos Takam in what could’ve been a draw, and his way-too-close-of-a-fight versus Andy Ruiz proves he’s not quite ready for the top level in the division.
Maybe the combination of Parker’s supposed best camp ever and recent elbow surgeries (at least another yellow flag) will elevate him to a new level. Maybe Anthony Joshua over-trained and worrying about bulk and mass in camp will affected him Saturday.
Although this fight will start mildly-slow, once the bombs come out it will feature some fun two-way action. Chins will be tested in the early goings after they begin to warm up and that’s when Parker will have to hurt Joshua. Make no mistake about it, Parker has to hurt and drop (or KO) Joshua to have any remote possibility of winning in the U.K.
Anthony Joshua will have a few rough spots and if the fight drags on, he will look for and find a second wind. The struggles Parker had with just good opposition refuses to exit my mind. It is one thing to fight at the opponent’s level it’s another thing to stay at that level for most of the rounds.
Look for Anthony Joshua to face minor adversity only to turn the two-way action into a one-sided, second-half to the fight.
My Official Prediction is Anthony Joshua via Technical-Stoppage.