ANTHONY JOSHUA, the WBA and IBF heavyweight champion, believes that WBO heavyweight champion and March 31 opponent, Joseph Parker, is better than Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion. And thankfully a battle between two of those champions is almost upon us.
The glowing endorsement of the New Zealander, or at least the timing of it, is of little surprise considering Anthony Joshua is set to take on Parker in in 10 days’ time, and interest in a collision with Wilder will likely go off the scale should he win.
“All round [Parker is better than Wilder],” Joshua enthused during a media day at his Sheffield training base. “His left hook, right hand, swings one right to the body, he likes a left hook to the body,” he continued, almost coming off his chair as he exhibited the shots he was describing. “I haven’t seen Wilder throw that many body shots. Wilder relies on the right hand, so I think Parker is a better all-rounder.
“When you talk about Parker you talk about his speed, his stamina, he’s got a good chin. There are more stats and facts than he just has a right hand [like Wilder]. Parker has an all-round game, that is what makes it a dangerous fight.”
Despite that danger, Joshua – who looked significantly slimmer than the 18st he scaled for his October bout with Carlos Takam – insists there is no pressure.
“I don’t feel it,” he said. “It’s pressure I put on myself isn’t it? I know that boxing doesn’t stop here. The pressure is more performance, I know I can slug out a win, we have always got that. It’s based on performance to make your stock rise. Opinions are always good. If Parker loses, he will come again and vice-versa. The pressure is on a performance more so because if you perform then the outcome is a win. There is always going to be pressure win or lose, I’m trying to say.”
But Joshua also believes, perhaps with his tongue in his cheek, that Wilder, fresh off a thrilling but topsy-turvy 10-round victory over Luis Ortiz, could one day advance his current 40-0 record beyond that of the recently-retired Floyd Mayweather’s – which stands at 50-0.
“When Wilder won, I just thought he’s supposed to do that. He’s a 10-year pro. He turned pro in 2009 after the Beijing Olympics, so after nine years as a pro, you’re supposed to beat Ortiz.
“It was his 40th fight. I just looked it vice-versa and thought by my 40th fight, no-one should be giving me problems.
“I just thought, by my 40th fight, I should be a seasoned professional. He’s still learning which is good. He might well go on and beat Mayweather’s record.”
Joshua’s lip service of his rivals stopped, though, when it came to how either would have fared against his old opponent, Wladimir Klitschko, who the Englishman defeated after an epic Wembley encounter last year.
“I don’t think I’d have given many a chance [of beating Klitschko that night],” Joshua said with a smile. “Remember when I fought Klitschko he didn’t say he is in great physical condition, he said he was obsessed and his mind was in the right frame that night. I don’t think many people would have beaten him. When a man is obsessed, he is in a tough place to be.
“I don’t think many would have beaten Klitschko.”