Hellraiser Boxing - Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker are to meet in a heavyweight unification fight in Cardiff on March 31st, and if he's to show he's at the level he says he is, Joshua will need a good performance, warns George Storr.
Hellraiser Boxing News | Performance Needed If AJ To Shine Against Parker
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker are to meet in a heavyweight unification fight in Cardiff on March 31st, and if he's to show he's at the level he says he is, Joshua will need a good performance, warns George Storr.

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Performance Needed If AJ To Shine Against Parker

by George Storr

‘Is this [Joseph Parker] Anthony Joshua’s biggest test?’ asked Sky Sports in a recent social media post. No, it’s not, and the question frankly is a ridiculous one after the war that played out between AJ and Wladimir Klitschko last April. However, the agreed 31st March unification between the two big men could still be a bout to remember for a number of reasons.

Last time out Anthony Joshua defeated France’s Carlos Takam, but the performance was not the romp home some expected and arguably the fight was stopped too soon. Joshua ultimately did well to beat Takam but the Watford man showed more vulnerabilities than fans expected and Takam dealt well with a lot of Joshua’s work.

Takam and Parker are both gutsy, durable, come forward fighters but Parker got the better of the Frenchman when they met, taking a unanimous points decision in New Zealand. Parker also stands 3 inches taller than Takam and will enter the contest with Joshua unbeaten. Could this make him more of a threat?

Ultimately Parker’s physical profile suggests he can present a meaningful challenge and psychologically he has the boosts of both being a champion himself and going into the ring as an undefeated fighter. The stumbling block, however, is the level of opposition he has faced in the past. Highlights include Alexander Dimitrenko, Hughie Fury and Andy Ruiz Jr., but the fact that AJ has done away with Klitschko, Whyte and Breazeale inside the distance leaves him streets ahead on experience.

Equally, the simple but unescapable fact that AJ has stopped every single opponent he has faced is bound to affect both his and Parker’s confidence going into the match. Compare that stunning record to Parkers frankly underwhelming display against Hughie Fury, (in which Fury consistently out-boxed Parker and was ultimately cheated by the judges scorecards) and it looks like there’s only one winner.

AJ has previously shown a level of respect for Parker, but certainly no admiration. In an interview with Sky Sports he assessed the Kiwi’s credentials…

“He’s not a devastating puncher… but then I think the level of opposition you go in with, people get better, they can take shots better, they can ride shots a little bit better.

“He’s got the attributes, he’s big, strong, he’s got the right mindset, so that’s all good, but once he gets the ring generalship of knowing when to throw your punches… With Hughie, some of the punches were just landing short, so if you want to step forward twice, feinted first, then go in, then thrown your shot. As the competition gets better, it will be harder to be as effective.”

AJ clearly sees himself as a step up in class for Parker in terms of opposition, and he’s right. Perfect preparation will still be necessary though because of Parker’s physicality. Whether or not the New Zealander has devastating power at a high level is debatable but Joshua will need a commanding performance to keep him at bay.

AJ’s coach Rob McCracken told Sky Sports that he is hoping for a lighter Joshua than the monster that faced Carlos Takam at a career heaviest 18 stone. The trainer said, “The emphasis is on being as quick as possible and taking as little punishment, [being] a bit lighter would allow him to do that”. While Sky, Eddie Hearn and casual fans might not agree, boxing fans would love to see an AJ that offered more of a purist ‘hit and don’t get hit’ style.

An AJ win is on the cards, but critics will be happiest if he can add some of the speed and movement that was at times lacking from the Takam performance. Equally perfect preparation is, as always, necessary to negate Parker’s threat and he shouldn’t be underestimated despite his shortcomings. Let’s hope for a great fight and a progressive performance from Joshua.

Posted: 17th Jan 2018

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