A 26-year-old world champion with an unbeaten 24-fight record, Joseph Parker should be the toughest opponent that Anthony Joshua has ever faced.
However, the Kiwi has shown flaws in recent bouts that suggest this unification fight actually represents less danger to Joshua than his clash with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley a year ago.
Parker has won 18 of his fights by knockout, but each of his last three have gone the distance, the most recent of which was a majority decision over Hughie Fury in September.
The WBO champion has power, but struggles to use it against the best fighters.
The four who took him the distance – Fury, Razvan Cojanu, Andy Ruiz and Carlos Takam – all proved tricky to hit and managed to stay out of the way of Parker’s often-telegraphed bombs.
Joshua is yet to experience that same problem.
Takam proved a tough opponent for the Englishman back in October, but Joshua eventually managed to break down the Frenchman’s defences and force the 10th-round stoppage.
At 6ft 6in tall, Josh has got a huge reach and arguably the heaviest hands in boxing, and – unlike Parker – the boxing intelligence to make use of those physical gifts.
The WBA and IBF champion’s only risk in this fight is leaving himself open to a big right hand, but it’s easy to see Parker running out of ideas if Joshua frustrates him with the jab.
Joshua’s knocked out every opponent he’s ever faced, but Parker’s excellent chin means this might not end the same way as AJ’s previous 20 bouts.
He got the stoppage against Takam, but it was hardly emphatic, with the referee stepping in with the Frenchman still on his feet.
Given that this is a huge unification bout, it’s likely that Parker will be given more of a chance to see out the 12 rounds providing he isn’t being repeatedly knocked down.
Joshua’s KO streak is going to end eventually, and this fight looks a decent bet to be the first time he sees the judges’ scorecards.
Best #BetYourWay pick:
Joshua to win with no knockdowns –
Assuming Joshua does box conservatively and focuses on keeping Parker out of range, there’s a very good chance that the New Zealander won’t hit the deck.
Parker’s never been knocked down in his career, and it’s worth remembering that Joshua didn’t put Takam on the canvas prior to his stoppage win last time out.