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Joshua faces Parker in tough Cardiff showdown

Joshua faces Parker in tough Cardiff showdown
March 31
04:04 2018

British-born Nigerian Anthony Joshua returns to the ring at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on Saturday night with his IBF, IBO and WBA titles on the line against WBO title holder Joseph Parker.

The fight, which will be broadcast in over 160 countries, is dubbed Road to Undisputed because it involves the heavyweight division unification between Joshua and Parker. The winner of the fight unifies the three major titles at stake.

The fight has a reported £20m purse with Joshua expected to take home up to £13m while Parker will receive £7m – a career high for the New Zealand boxer.

Twenty six-year-old Parker, who is undefeated in 24 fights, is the current WBO world champion – a title he won in December 2016 and has successfully defended the title twice. He has won 18 of his fights by knockout while six have ended in his favour by unanimous decisions.

Joshua, who is undefeated in 20 fights and which he won through knockouts,added the WBA world heavyweight title to his IBF and IBO titles when he knocked Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko out in front of 90,000 fans at the Wembley Stadium on April 29, 2017. He successfully defended the three titles against Carlos Takam on October 28, 2017 at the Principality Stadium.

The 28-year-old, whose parents come from Sagamu in Ogun State, has revealed his sights are fixed on becoming the first man to hold all four major heavyweight world titles.

According to Telegraph, a win for Joshua will make him the third man to hold the three major world titles after Americans Mike Tyson and Lenox Lewis. A victory will also fuel talk of unifying the titles with the WBC crown of Deontay Wilder, who is unbeaten in 40 fights.

The last boxer to hold three major titles was Lennox Lewis, who became undisputed champion by defeating Evander Holyfield on November 13, 1999. Lewis held the IBF, WBA and WBC titles in 2000.

The fight will be a tough one for both parties as they look to end each other’s unbeaten runs. The fight also extends beyond the two fighters as an estimated one million subscribers are expected to view the fight around the world.

Parker said he is not afraid of Joshua – rather he respects his opponent and would go for the title.

“I’m prepared for one of the biggest fights I’ll be involved in. Everyone says you’re going to have stage fright and be nervous walking out in front of so many people but I’m so blessed and grateful to have a team around me, who keep me grounded,” he told Telegraph.

“He’s similar to me – a gentleman, very respectful. He knows how to handle himself and he has been through this before. He’s very experienced and he has confidence. We both respect each other and complement each other but we know what we want.

“I am a champion and I am ready to take his belts back home – for myself, my team, my family and country. That’s it.”

But Joshua is driven by the fear of failure and believes the fight will be a history-making one.

“I just know how quickly the tables can turn. One minute you’re the man, and the next you’re not,” he told Inquirer.

“This will be history. This is a unification fight with two heavyweights undefeated and it’s in the UK.It’s going to be electric.

“When you come here to fight me, you know there’s going to be blood, a fighter hurt and 20 times out of 20 I’ve been victorious, so expect the same routine.

“The crowd will affect him. It took me a few times to get used to it. It’s an experience he hasn’t faced yet. It is daunting, it is overwhelming. You have a fighter that will block out the noise, which takes a whole heap of energy. Then you have a fighter who rides the wave, which can leave you too excited.

“The fight is won or lost in training camp but the last bolt is screwed on during the spell from your changing room to the first bell.”

Also, while Parker will be attracting the attention of fans in Samoa, where his parents were born and he has a chieftaincy title, Joshua will attract the attention of fans in Nigeria, where his parents are from.

According to BBC Sport, the Samoans are praying for Parker to bring honour to their country.

“When you get to that level of national support, it’s massive. It is Easter Sunday in Samoa when it’s fight night here. The fighters will walk out around 10:30pm in Cardiff, perfect timing for Samoa, around 12:30pm on Sunday. Church is done, lunch is done. You could say it’s a divine appointment,” BBC Sport quoted Seti Afoa, a Samoan journalist, as saying.

“We have a TV station that picks it up and it’s free to air around the country. That’s the case for all Parker fights. That’s how big this guy is. People will be in front of a TV set, they’ll be anywhere looking at the fight, I would say 90 per cent of the country will be watching the fight. I think Joseph Parker has more than a prayer. He comes in here with confidence that we haven’t seen before.”

However in Sagamu, Ogun State, the Joshua family has also organised a special prayer for their son to emerge victorious in the bout.

Joshua’s uncle Adedamola told our correspondent on the telephone during the week that the boxer’s success is a pride to the family.

“The town is enlivened each day with the approach of the fight. Everyone wants to be a part of Anthony’s success. The family is praying for him to succeed because his success is a pride to us and the country at large,” he said.

“We organised a special prayer for him at the family church and we believe that God will answer our prayers and grant him success. The Joshua family is solidly behind him.”

Spokesman for the Sagamu Youths Congress Ayodele Osho said the body had mobilised people in the town to watch the fight on the big screen and cheer Joshua on to victory.

Osho said, “This fight is different from his previous fights, so Sagamu Youths Congress believes that we need to support our brother in such a time like this. We have mobilised people to come and watch the fight at a bigger venue than where the last fight was shown. With the publicity we have created for it, the number of people who will watch the fight will be more than what we had last year. This is our own way of saying we identify with Anthony, who is a great representative of Sagamu.”

Meanwhile, boxing fans who spoke with our correspondent during the week are of different opinion over Joshua’s chances of winning the fight.

Wasiu Arowolo believes Joshua can win the fight by knockout while another fan Uche Nnamdi says the fight will be decided by the judges. But Kemi Ojediran believes Parker can create an upset to extend his unbeaten run.

Arowolo said, “Joshua is a power-fighter. I have liked him since he defeated Klitchko (Vladimir). None of the boxers in the heavyweight division has faced such a tough opponent. They’ve had it quite easy. I believe the fight will end in the 10th round in favour of Joshua.”

Nnamdi said, “The two fighters are unbeaten, which will make the fight interesting to watch. Joshua has more on the line than Parker, who has little to lose. As a Nigerian, I want Joshua to win but I know it won’t come by knockout as he had done in all his previous fights. The fight will be decided by the judges.”

Ojediran said, “Parker has nothing to lose and as such has no pressure on him. Although, he (Joshua) is his biggest opponent so far in his career, I believe he will cause an upset. I watched a few of his videos and I discovered that he has more power in his punch than Joshua and he knows how to fight for points than Joshua as well. I think he can cause an upset in Cardiff.”

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