For a world heavyweight unification title fight refreshingly free of trash talk, predicting the outcome on Saturday in Cardiff was as close as Joshua and Parker came to banter at their first joint news conference in fight week. Parker, the WBO titleholder from New Zealand, said, naturally: “I’m going to beat him, I haven’t decided how, yet. I don’t know if it’s a knockout, or points, or decision. See how I feel on fight night.”
Joshua, the WBA and IBF champion on home ground, put his view this way: “Let’s say I’ve got 20 quid in my pocket and I’m looking at Joseph Parker. I believe Anthony Joshua can knock Joseph Parker out for sure.” Joshua added he’s trained to go all 12 rounds if necessary, even though he’s never had to in an unbeaten 20-win pro career.
Joshua, pictured, has made no secret of his long-term aim to unify the four main heavyweight belts. And even though he said he was “1,000 per cent” focused on Parker, he still gave the impression his opponent is the hors d’oeuvres to the main meal that is Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), the American who holds the other main belt, the WBC’s. “Every fight will have reason in the long run,” Joshua said. “Parker, he’s a champion, he’s done well for himself, he’s someone who will add something to my life journey.”
Trainer Rob McCracken added: “He just sees it as another fight on the ladder to becoming the undisputed champion.”
Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) smiled through the subtle put downs from Joshua and McCracken, of being a “lively challenger” with “solid credentials.”
Asked what worried him about Parker, Joshua answered as if he hadn’t seen any Parker video: “He’s quick and can take a punch. That’s what I’ve heard.”
Parker is receiving only a third of the purse, an estimated £7 million, but backing for him has increased since he arrived in Britain more than a week ago, thanks to a charm offensive. While Joshua came to the press conference in T-shirt and tracksuit trousers, Parker appeared in jacket, tie, and spectacles. A power suit, so to speak.
“I feel it’s my time,” Parker said. “I’m young, I’m fast, I’m strong, and I’m determined to win. I’m not here to put on a show or for a payday, I’m here to take those belts back to New Zealand and Samoa. I’m here to be a part of history. I’m not doing it just for myself, I’m doing it for my team, my family and my country.”