Records on the line

Arab News - - SPORTS -

It is one of the most evoca­tive ti­tles in sport: The world heavy­weight box­ing cham­pion.

Yet it is a ti­tle that has too of­ten been frac­tured as a re­sult of the rise of nu­mer­ous dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ing bod­ies in the years since the out­stand­ing Muham­mad Ali was stripped of the ti­tle in the late 1960s for re­fus­ing US mil­i­tary ser­vice in the Viet­nam War.

But the cur­rent picture will be­come clearer when Bri­tain’s Anthony Joshua, the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion and World Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion cham­pion, faces New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, the World Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion ti­tle-holder, in a heavy­weight uni­fi­ca­tion bout on Satur­day.

Some 78,000 spec­ta­tors are ex­pected at Cardiff’s Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium, a tes­ta­ment to the en­dur­ing ap­peal of the heavy­weight crown in gen­eral, and the pulling power of Joshua, in par­tic­u­lar.

Joshua’s life story reads like the out­line of a movie — a boy who fell in with the “wrong crowd,” but avoided prison be­cause of his in­volve­ment in box­ing, and went on to win an Olympic gold medal in front of his home London crowd in 2012. Then he turned pro and built up an un­beaten 20-fight record in the paid ranks.

But Parker, two years younger at 26, also has a per­fect pro­fes­sional record, with 24 wins, 18 of them through knock­outs.

Satur­day’s fight will be the first time two undis­puted heavy­weight cham­pi­ons have met for the ti­tle in Bri­tain, and should move the win­ner closer to a bout against Deon­tay Wilder, the Amer­i­can who holds the World Box­ing Coun­cil’s ver­sion.

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