LONDON — Anthony Joshua predicts an early end. Joseph Parker is still deciding how he will end it.
For a world heavyweight unification title fight refreshingly free of trash talk, predicting the outcome on Saturday in Cardiff was as close as Joshua and Parker came to banter on Tuesday at their first joint news conference in fight week.
Parker, the WBO titleholder from New Zealand, said, naturally: “I’m going to beat him, I haven’t decided how, yet. I don’t know if it’s a knockout, or points, or decision. See how I feel on fight night.”
Joshua, the WBA and IBF champion on home ground, put his view this way: “Let’s say I’ve got 20 quid (pounds) in my pocket and I’m looking at Joseph Parker. I believe Anthony Joshua can knock Joseph Parker out for sure.”
Joshua added he’s trained to go all 12 rounds if necessary, even though he’s never had to in an unbeaten 20-win pro career.
He has made no secret of his long-term view, of unifying the four main heavyweight belts. And even though he said he was “1,000 percent” focused on Parker, he still gave the impression his opponent is the hors d’oeuvres to the main meal that is Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), the American who holds the other main belt, the WBC’s.
“Every fight will have reason in the long run,” Joshua said. “Parker, he’s a champion, he’s done well for himself, he’s someone who will add something to my life journey.”
Trainer Rob McCracken added: “He just sees it as another fight on the ladder to becoming the undisputed champion.”
Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) smiled through the subtle putdowns from Joshua and McCracken, of being a “lively challenger” with “solid credentials.”
Asked what worried him about Parker, Joshua answered as if he hadn’t seen any Parker video: “He’s quick and can take a punch. That’s what I’ve heard.”
Parker is receiving only a third of the purse, an estimated 7 million pounds ($9.9 million), but backing for him has increased by at least as much since he arrived in Britain more than a week ago, thanks to a charm offensive. While Joshua came to the news conference in T-shirt and tracksuit trousers, Parker appeared in jacket, tie, and spectacles. A power suit, so to speak.
“I feel it’s my time,” Parker said. “I’m young, I’m fast, I’m strong, and I’m determined to win.
“I’m not here to put on a show or for a payday, I’m here to take those belts back to New Zealand and Samoa. I’m here to be a part of history. I’m not doing it just for myself, I’m doing it for my team, my family and my country.”
Joshua has suggested that Parker will be intimidated and unprepared for the biggest crowd he’s ever boxed in front of – 78,000 – but Kevin Barry, Parker’s trainer for five years, dismissed the fear-mongering.
Barry said Parker has wanted this fight for too long to be put off by a Principality Stadium crowd which will include his parents Sala and Dempsey.
“One of the huge strengths of Joseph Parker is the way he controls his emotions,” Barry said. “Whether the crowd is 800, 8,000 or 80,000 it’ll be the same Joseph Parker smiling all the way to the ring, the same guy preparing in the dressing room.”
But McCracken believed Parker’s calculated calm won’t help him.
“Being fast and calm and relaxed, it doesn’t prepare you for getting into a ring with Anthony Joshua,” McCracken boasted. “He hits you and you don’t know why you’re getting hit.”
Both fighters are expected to be lighter than their previous fights at the weigh-in on Friday.
“He’s at his best, I’m at my best,” Parker said. “There’s going to be no excuses afterwards.”