As they stood atop the scales at Friday’s weigh-in, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker both looked at ease, confident in their own lighter frames, chuckling in the face of pressure ahead of today’s heavyweight mega-fight in front of 78,000 in Cardiff.
A brass band had just led Joshua in, a haka greeted Parker. The show had come to town. But beneath these calm fronts lies desperation to hold on to their own status as undefeated world champions.
At a weigh-in on Friday where both fighters showed respect for each other, WBA and IBF titleholder Joshua tipped the scales at 242 pounds (110kg) — 12 pounds lighter than for his most recent fight against Carlos Takam in October.
Parker, the WBO champion, weighed 236 pounds, nine pounds lighter than his last fight against Hughie Fury in September.
“I feel better,” said Joshua, who hasn’t been this light for a world title fight. “When I put this weight into the real thing, I’ll be a lot sharper and my reactions and timing will be better.”
After the stare-down, Parker and Joshua shook hands and briefly chatted on the stage.
“We’re both going to be moving well,” Parker said, “and throwing big bombs.”
Renowned for his power punching having knocked out all 20 of the opponents in his professional career, Joshua said fans might see a different side to him on today.
“Boxing is not just about brute strength, it’s about finesse and technique,” he said. “So you’re going to see some real class skills in there.”
The fighters were addressing a crowd of about 4,000 people at the weigh-in at Motorpoint Arena in a rainy Cardiff.
A New Zealander with Samoan heritage, Parker entered the stage to a few jeers, moments after supporters welcomed him with a New Zealand haka and a Samoan siva.
Parker looked like he meant business, whereas Joshua was all smiles as he high-fived some fans on his walk to the stage.
Around 78,000 fans are expected at the nearby Principality Stadium for the fight between two unbeaten world champions.
… Aims at unifying World Boxing Heavyweight division
The excitement that was hitherto missing in world heavyweight boxing division is now back! This was after several years of lull occasioned by a lack of credible boxers to challenge the Klitschko brothers in the division.
First, it was Vitali Klitschko that reigned in the WBC category after out punching Nigeria’s Samuel Peter in Germany in 2009 until his retirement in 2015 to join politics in his native Ukraine. He’s now the Mayor of Kiev in his country, while his younger brother Wladimir took hold of three world heavyweight boxing titles: WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO.
Both brothers refused to take on each other to unify the belt- as they claimed their mother would none of such a contest.
The two Ukrainian brothers lived and fought their title bouts in Germany- their adopted country. The Klitschkos actually took their turns in pummeling the Nigerian Nightmare Samuel Peter. In his first and only defense of his WBC world title, the Akwa Ibom born 2000 Sydney Olympian was battered that he refused to return to the ring in round 9. He lost his title. He also got pummeled and battered by Wladimir sometime later. In their first meeting Peter floored him thrice but lost on unanimous division.
While the lull lasted, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and others thrilled the boxing world in the junior weight category.
Today, the story is different in the heavyweight division. The first shock to the heavyweight came in November 2015 when a relatively unknown and unsung Tyson Fury defeated Wladimir in a unanimous decision. Boxing pundits rated the Briton as an outsider before the bout.
But his antics before and during the 12-round bout unsettled the Ukrainian and gave him an unlikely victory and all the belts.
Unfortunately, Fury was stripped of the belts when he battled depression and drug issues and was banned from boxing.
Anthony Olufemi Olaseni Joshua came into limelight in 2012, winning the men’s Olympic heavyweight boxing title. Since then, he has not looked back. He has had 20 bouts with 20 victories – all knockouts. He easily disposed of Charles Martin in April 2016 to become the world IBF heavyweight champion. However, the boxer, heavily linked to Nigeria said he did not feel like a champion until April 2017 where he battled Wladimir Klitschko with the three titles- vacated by Fury- at stake, and his IBF title. The defeat sent him top retirement at 42 though he had the option of a rematch.
The match at the 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium, filled to the brim on that night, saw Anthony Joshua announce himself to the world with an 11th round stoppage of the former champion. Since then Joshua has become a beautiful bride with all manner of boxers in the heavyweight division baying for his blood.
The roll call: Tyson Fury, David Haye, Dillian Whyte (he wants another scrap after being beaten by Joshua, though Joshua lost to him too as an amateur in 2009) and the biggest of them, the hard hitting American WBC heavyweight champion, Doentay Wilder. Both are undefeated in their pro career and have beaten all opponents via knockouts.
This weekend, Joshua will seek to consolidate his grip on the world boxing heavyweight with a title defense against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker. Parker is putting his own WBO title at stake. Bookmakers are tipping Joshua to win- he has the height and reach advantage and 80,000 cheering crowd at the Municipality in Cardiff, Wales. A win will ensure a mouthwatering encounter with the motor mouth American Wilder.
. Culled from FRONTPIXS NEWS