Can Joseph Parker be the first boxer to defeat Anthony Joshua?

Steve Wellings

Steve is an experienced boxing writer and author. He has been writing about boxing for over 12 years and has attended over 150 shows. He has written and published nine books on the sport. He is the host on a boxing podcast called Boxing Asylum.

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Many may disagree but I think Anthony Joshua is there to be taken by the right man. That’s not a knock on him necessarily, he’s a good solid boxer with heart, a powerful dig and great marketability, but he’s not an amazing fighter. I believe that a younger, fresher version of Wladimir Klitschko, with Emanuel Steward in the corner, would have taken him out when hurt in the fifth round of their April, 2017 encounter.

That was a stirring battle and the way Joshua caught his second wind, rallied back from a potential points deficit (he was obviously unaware of the cards at the time) and found enough energy and resolve to put consistent pressure on the fading ex-champion made for one of the best heavyweight fights in recent years. In fact, not since Lamon Brewster and Sergei Liakhovich went at it for the WBO crown in 2006 have I enjoyed a heavyweight scrap quite as much.

The fact remains that Joshua can be got at, but is Joseph Parker the man to finally pop that unbeaten cherry? Probably not, but Parker does have a few things going for him that could realistically cause issues for Joshua. Parker is fairly young at 26 and listed at 6’4” (according to BoxRec) so is a hefty enough unit, despite looking to me like a smaller heavyweight compared to some of the division’s behemoths.

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Putting aside late round fades against the likes of Carlos Takam and Andy Ruiz Jr (he has also done the distance against Hughie Fury and Razvan Cojanu but hardly fought at a pace that would cause a blowout) Parker has shown that he can still see out a fight at a good pace. Can AJ fight hard for 12 rounds? Not likely, but heavyweights aren’t usually renowned for high octane affairs where stamina is constantly called into question.

Parker has clearly dropped the weight in anticipation as he knows he cannot afford to be heavy and sluggish and present a sitting target for Joshua’s straight, accurate shots. Parker was not in supreme condition for the Hughie Fury fight, if rumours are to be believed, but he did not need to be as Hughie offered little in the way of offensive moves in that bout. Lacking power and failing to let the right hand go, despite making the New Zealander miss frequently, Fury was made to pay for his lack of aggression and ambition.

Against Joshua, WBO king Parker will need to be wary of reaching and “falling in” when attempting to land a big shot. Frustration and lack of discipline could lead to Joshua’s uppercut becoming a vital weapon. Former Joshua opponent Dillian Whyte knows a thing or two about fighting in front of a capacity crowd. The Brixton heavyweight has gone on record in the Daily Star stating that the huge crowd and volatile atmosphere in Cardiff will “swallow Parker up” and he has predicted that the size of the occasion will cause Parker to melt under the pressure.

“I think AJ will step back and look to land straight right-hand, left-hook and I think he’ll have a lot of problems with that,” added Whyte.

Whyte is a tough guy who has tasted Joshua’s power and can vouch to the skills of the champion. Dillian also enjoyed success in their meeting and rocked Joshua in round two with a left hook. If Parker is fit, focused and unnerved then he might be able to replicate that – or better.

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