A heavyweight title unification match between WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua and WBO titlist Joseph Parker has been in the works for some time. This morning (Sunday, Jan. 14) it was confirmed. Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) and Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) will lock horns on Saturday, March 31, at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. And, as the cliché goes, someone’s “O” will have to go.
Joshua will be returning to the venue where he fought his most recent fight, scoring a 10th round TKO of late sub Carlos Takam. That bout on Oct. 28 of last year attracted an announced crowd of 78,000 which shattered the all-time attendance record for a boxing event at an indoor stadium. (Principality Stadium, identified primarily with the sport of rugby, has a retractable roof.)
A 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Anthony Joshua won the IBF title in February of 2016 with a second round blast-out of ill-equipped Charles Martin. He added the WBA diadem to his dossier on April 29 of last year with an 11th round stoppage of Wladimir Klitschko. That thrilling, see-saw bout was named the Fight of the Year by this web site and many other entities.
Joseph Parker won the WBO title vacated by Tyson Fury in December of 2016 with a razor-thin decision over Andy Ruiz in Auckland. Of Samoan extraction, Parker is the first fighter born in New Zealand to win a version of the world heavyweight title. He successfully defended his belt with 12-round decisions over former sparring partner Razvan Cojanu in Auckland and Hughie Fury in Manchester. Those bouts were lackluster affairs.
Parker is trained by Kevin Barry. The most prominent trainer in New Zealand, as was his father before him, Barry previously trained David Tua who defeated five men who held a version of the world heavyweight title. Barry says that Joseph Parker doesn’t punch as hard as Tua but is a more well-rounded boxer who is more dedicated to his craft.
Parker, who celebrated his 26th birthday last week, stands six-foot-four and carried 245 pounds for his last ring engagement. Anthony Joshua, two years older and two inches taller, figures to have about a 10-pound weight advantage. Although it figures that Parker will feel right at home in a rugby stadium (Polynesians have dominated the sport), Joshua will go to post a substantial favorite.
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