ON paper, all things being equal, Anthony Joshua should navigate his way around Joseph Parker with little difficulty tonight (March 31) in Cardiff. That’s the view of top coach Adam Booth, who guided David Haye to a WBA world heavyweight title nearly a decade ago.
But, of course, fights are seldom won or lost on paper and Booth, as aware of this as anybody, can’t help but think Joseph Parker, the smaller and lighter man, yet to have his ‘Wladimir Klitschko moment’, possesses a key ingredient Saturday’s opponent lacks.
“It’s too easy to go with Joshua,” Booth told Boxing News. “My initial instinct is Parker struggled with Hughie Fury and Joshua has showed his mettle against Wlad and Dillian Whyte and can cope with that level and that atmosphere.
“Admittedly, Hughie Fury was quite negative in that fight, though, so who knows. Joshua won’t be moving around like Bootney Farnsworth. We know that much.
“But I haven’t been overly impressed with Parker’s workmanlike approach. It’s very A-B-C.
“Then again, you can’t look past the fact he’s a Maori. It’s the only thing that’s bugging me. They are a different breed. If he’s truly a Maori, this fight is a lot harder than people think.”
Booth, by the sounds of it, is similarly torn on Anthony Joshua and his reign as WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion. Impressed by the quick knockouts, and head over heels following his stirring eleventh round knockout of Klitschko last April, Booth still believes the Watford man is a work in progress battling through flaws each and every time he fights.
“All Carlos Takam did (in his October fight with Joshua) were some very basic little bounces on the toes and changes of distance and it was enough to completely befuddle Joshua,” said Booth.
“I think Joshua is a slow thinker. I think he’s quite prescribed in everything he does to control what he really is. I think he’s ballsy and can certainly whack, but his status doesn’t match his competency. And Joseph Parker is a Maori. And I’m just going to keep on saying that. Joseph Parker is a Maori.”
The Maori meets The Money in the heavyweight division tonight in front of 90,000 fans at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, and Booth will be in attendance. Before the main event, he’ll be tasked with guiding world bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett and hot prospect Josh Kelly to their next career victories. Once that’s over, he can sit back and relax and see if the unshakeable feeling he has regarding the importance of Joseph Parker’s heritage rings true.
“As boxers, I pick Joshua,” he said. “But Parker’s a Maori and his hands aren’t bad. He’s not a big puncher but his hands aren’t bad. I think it will be a better fight than people think.
“So, my educated pick is Joshua. But there is this big thing about Parker being a Maori that makes me think I can’t confidently choose a winner.”