Joshua’s power should be too much for Parker
while also speaking of being in his finest ever condition having had surgery in early December to correct the elbow injuries with which he had long been struggling.
Of course, claims of peak condition are made by all fighters at all levels of the sport. Parker — like Joshua, 28 — is a young, fresh and athletic heavyweight, which is largely why their unification fight appeals — the removal of such a potential handicap suggests that this can prove true.
That he is looking so light, and that his eccentric promoter David Higgins last week put pressure on the three judges to score their fight fairly, also suggests that he expects it to last the full 12 rounds. This is in contrast to the approach taken by Whyte.
The smaller Whyte fearlessly met Joshua in the centre of the ring, willing to risk his heaviest punches to land one of his own and succeeding in hurting Joshua to the extent he could have been stopped on his feet before the eventual seventh-round technical knockout.
Klitschko later became the first to knock the WBA and IBF champion down, but is both bigger and rangier than Parker. He also possesses the ringcraft and footwork the New Zealander lacks.
Should he therefore pursue a perhaps cagey affair — and he will regardless have to improve on his display in September’s points victory over Hughie Fury — even if he succeeds in delaying it, that he is incapable of frustrating Joshua over the distance means that he risks a near-certain stoppage defeat.
His finest chance — even against an often one-dimensional opponent — comes in relying on his youth and freshness. It also relies on the speed he has been built to deliver; to hurt Joshua before the significant favourite hurts him, and then to capitalise on the opportunity that both Whyte and Klitschko missed.
In short, Parker needs to force a true heavyweight confrontation, but one thing that has been noticeable about him and his team since their arrival in the UK, is their conviction and their belief. Before the fight with Fury — whose own cagey approach proved the wrong one — Higgins was said to have been drunk at a press conference and amid their inexperience in later negotiations to fight Joshua, the impression developed of a group pursuing a lucrative opportunity they had not expected. They have since proven as professional as they are ambitious, encouraging long-term relationships as part of a wider plan.
Ultimately, the victor on Saturday evening will possess three of the four world heavyweight titles. He will therefore be on course to face WBC champion Deontay Wilder for all four in a fight that will prove the world’s richest and most significant whether it takes place later this year or the next. It will also crown
the first undisputed champion since the great Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Should he remain cagey and patient it is likely Joshua’s power and aggression will secure a stoppage within six or seven rounds, but even in the event of them
fighting toe-to-toe after the cautious opening that is almost inevitable, Joshua is both bigger, stronger, more proven and more powerful, and — despite his prediction of winning inside nine — would be likely to win his third world title even quicker.
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker will slug it out in Cardiff on Saturday for the right to meet Deontay Wilder in a heavyweight unification bout. (AFP)