Technical / White Paper

King of Kings

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King of Kings

Anthony Joshua might be the poster boy of world boxing who counts Prince Harry among his friends but there will be no airs and graces ahead of the biggest fight of his life.

Joshua takes on Joseph Parker at Cardiff's sold-out Principality Stadium on 31 March live and exclusive on Sky Sports Box Office in a fight that will create British boxing history.

Never before have two unbeaten world heavyweight champions clashed on these shores and whoever claims the WBA, IBF and WBO belts in the Welsh capital on Easter Saturday will proceed to the sort of fights which will be forever carved into boxing folklore.

This will be the third time running that Joshua has boxed in an outdoor stadium fight and, over the past few years, 'AJ' has banked scarcely believable sums of money from a sport which very few ever really make pay.

But Joshua has always lived by the mantra 'stay humble, stay hungry' and his most extravagant purchase during his latest training camp is evidence that he is not straying too far from his favourite motto.

“My only luxury I've done this time is I've put up black out blinds in my flat in Sheffield,” he says, leaning back on a chair in London's swanky Dorchester Hotel. “That helps when I'm trying to sleep in the afternoon.

“It's mainly the same as usual for training but we've changed little things, diets, recovery, physio, times of training to make things work.

“I've learned from experience of training camps to still work hard but I've added intelligence to it.”

That could come as ominous news to the unbeaten Parker considering Joshua has stopped all 20 of his professional opponents to date inside the distance.

And, if current IBF and WBA champion Joshua needed any extra motivation, a war of words with Parker in the build-up has only served to add fuel to his fire.

The visitor from New Zealand claims to have never been knocked down in his life, be it sparring, an amateur contest or in any of his 24 professional fights. But he says the fact that Joshua has been floored in both the unpaid and paid codes suggests he has a 'glass jaw'.

So does it get under the Watford giant's skin? “It's fun isn't it?” he said. “It gets the blood boiling and adds a bit to the fight.

“I want to perform. I want to win, know what I mean, and that gets under my skin and that's why I watch my weight, I'm running further, doing more than I did last year. I'm going to be more consistent.

“Yesterday we did 20 rounds in the gym which I wasn't even doing for the Klitschko fight. We're steps ahead. Obviously it's down to performance and occasion, but in terms of steps to where we are, we are leaps and bounds ahead of usual, so it will be quite interesting to see where we'll be at on 31 March.

"If he's better than me, quicker than me, tougher than me, it will take a lot to put me away because I won't stop coming.”

Joshua knows victory over Parker will open the door to a unification fight with American puncher Deontay Wilder, the current incumbent of the WBC strap. Whoever wins that would become the first man in boxing history to hold all four heavyweight belts at the same time.

But Joshua is not looking too far ahead. “Look,” he says. “We have now defended the heavyweight crown the most times in British history.

“Last year I wanted to get Carlos Takam out of the way without losing a round. That is what set me up for a big 2018. I can learn from my mistakes and add it to my list of experiences.

“It's about taking challenges. It has always been like that with us, we've always been a couple of years ahead of the game. It's risky but it's entertaining as well and that's why we have these career-defining fights and two unifications in less than a year because we are willing to take the risk.”

Despite being an unbeaten world champion, Parker will arrive in Cardiff as a huge underdog with the bookmakers. The price will have drifted even further after a lacklustre showing in his only other outing in Britain, when he outpointed Hughie Fury over 12 rounds in September.

But Parker believes it is wrong to judge him on that fight against a noted mover in Fury.

"The reason I am so excited about this fight is the difference in styles,” Parker said. “The style that Hughie brought was not really good for me with the style I take to the ring.

"The reason I have been chasing this fight for so long is that my team love challenges so we see this as a massive challenge and that is what excites us.

“I like to be the underdog, I know what I have to do, I know that I have to train the hardest I have ever trained. I know training is going to be painful and if he catches me the fight will be painful as well.

“I am expecting a long tough fight but in this division, one punch can change anything.”

And there’s plenty more to look forward to, this month and beyond…

Kell Brook v Sergey Rabchenko (March 3)
Super-Welterweight Bout

Kell Brook makes his return to the ring for the first time since last May as he battles Belarussian Sergey Rabchenko in Sheffield.

Scott Quigg v Oscar Valdez (March 10)
WBO featherweight title bout

Englishman Quigg has his sights set on the Mexican’s featherweight title as the pair come together at California’s StubHub Center.

Dillian Whyte v Lucas Browne (March 24)
WBC Silver heavyweight title bout

The Londoner defends his heavyweight title for the first time against unbeaten Australian Lucas Browne at The O2 Arena.

Amir Khan v Phil Lo Greco (April 21)
Welterweight bout

Khan makes his much-anticipated return to the ring next month as he pits his wits against Canadian veteran Phil Lo Greco in Liverpool.

Tony Bellew v David Haye (May 5)
Heavyweight bout

It promises to be the grudge match of all grudge matches as the two rivals come together for round two at London’s O2 Arena in May.

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