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Joshua vs. Parker possible for Mar.31 in Cardiff, Wales

By Tim Royner: Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) is close to being inked for a unification fight against Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) on March 31 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The press conference for the news on the announcement of the 3/31 fight could be taking place in London, England 2 weeks from now, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Joshua’s last fight against Carlos Takam took place at the Principality Stadium on October 28. The stadium seats 74,500 fans and it’s quite likely to sellout for the Joshua-Parker fight despite it not being perceived as a great match compared to the far bigger mega-fights involving Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury opposing Joshua.

Parker and his promoter David Higgins have gotten on Joshua’s nerves recently with the comments they’ve made about his punch fragile punch resistance. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s upset and he thinks the press conferences are going to be interesting with Parker.

“They’ve got under his skin. The press conference is going to be a lot of fun,” said Hearn to the “He talks a lot but he’s a character and the sport needs those. There’s a method in his madness,” said Hearn.

It doesn’t appear to be an act with Higgins. He seems to believe what he says when he talks of Joshua’s weaknesses. Higgins isn’t saying what a lot of other people aren’t commenting on about Joshua’s chin, and his stamina problems. When Joshua gets hit hard, he sometimes gets buzzed and he looks shaky. The stamina problems have been a problem for Joshua since his fight with Dillian Whyte in 2015. That flaw has likely always existed for Joshua. It’ just that they were hidden in his earlier bouts because of the mediocre opposition that he was being matched up against by Hearn.

Hearn says Joshua wants to keep his record perfect with nothing but knockouts. That may prove to be a lot more difficult for big Joshua to accomplish against Parker, who takes a good puncher, and has an excellent set of wheels. Parker also can punch like an ox. He may not hit quite as hard as Joshua, but he’s close enough to be very dangerous. Parker is easily the second biggest puncher Joshua will have faced, only behind Wladimir Klitschko.

Joshua looked like he was ready to fold up under the half a dozen power shots that Wladimir landed in round 6 of their fight on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. If Parker lands those same shots on Joshua’s chin, he has a good chance of dropping him in the same way. Parker, 25, isn’t going to think twice about going for the knockout if he gets Joshua hurt.

Wladimir didn’t want to unload on Joshua after he got up from the knockdown. Wladimir backed off and let Joshua survive his shaky moment. Parker’s trainer will stress before the fight the importance of empting out his gas tank if he gets Joshua hurt in the same way that Wladimir did. There’s no use in Parker letting Joshua escape if he has him teetering on the brink of defeat.

“Both are aggressive fighters. AJ likes people to come on to him,” said Hearn. ”He’s much better technically than people make out. Joseph will step up and look better than he did in his last fight because no one is going to look good against Hughie Fury – he didn’t come to fight,” said Hearn.

Parker might decide to box Joshua in the same way that he did against Carlos Takam and Andy Ruiz Jr. Parker was more of a pure slugger when he first started his career, but he’s added a different element to his game. Parker has learned from the different people he’s sparred with. He doesn’t resemble the fighter he was when he turned pro in 2012.

The 6’4” Parker does well against tall fighters for some reason. He dominated the 6’6” Hughie Fury, 6’7” Razvan Cojanu, 6’7” Alexander Dimitrenko, 6’7” Daniel Martz, 6’5’ Kali Meehan and 6’4” Yakup Saglam. Joshua is 6’5”, 250 lbs. Parker will be right at home with Joshua’s size.

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