These are exciting times for the heavyweight division. In Cardiff on March 31st, reigning IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua will take on WBO title-holder Joseph Parker for an eagerly anticipated fight that will be the first time that undefeated boxers have gone head to head since Tony Tucker took on Mike Tyson in 1987. It could also potentially be the first act of a reunification of the division.
With WBC champion Deontay Wilder waiting in the wings, the winner in Cardiff will have the chance to box for the undisputed world heavyweight title, and according to online boxing betting markets, Joshua is a big favorite to be taking on Wilder later this year.
However, boxing legend Frank Bruno, who is a big fan of Joshua, has given the rising star of UK boxing some advice ahead of the fight, warning him not to get drawn into a war with Parker.
Speaking to the media this week, Bruno said that he was backing Joshua to earn the win, but emphasized that it was important for Joshua to get his tactics right: “If Anthony Joshua moves around and uses his reach and his power, he should make it, not an easy fight, but make it easier for himself. If he is going to get macho and start wanting to tear up with him, then Parker is a very dangerous guy, very fit, and he is on you all the time.
Former heavyweight world champion Bruno also said that with his advantage in terms of power, size, and skill, Joshua can win against Parker. He also emphasized that the Olympic gold medal winner, who is unbeaten in 20 fights, would not allow himself to be distracted by the prospect of taking on Wilder, and would be totally focused on the next fight: “His feet are on the ground and he deserves everything he gets. I think just take one step at a time because Parker is not a mug. He is a very tough guy and he comes to fight.”
Joshua would be right not to underestimate Parker, who has yet to suffer a knock down in any of his fights. The outsider is quicker on his feet than Joshua, and if he can avoid the big hits, he will have a chance of taking the fight deep into the later rounds.
Admittedly, that is a big “if.” Joshua is an accomplished fighter who will have a clear plan and is unlikely to let his opponent get to him, having learned that lesson the hard way against Dillian Whyte. Parker will also have to deal with bigger hits than he has ever taken before and on a bigger stage than he has yet had to cope with.
Whatever the outcome, this promises to be an absorbing fight between two undefeated champions that will capture the imagination of fight fans the world over, and give a boost to a division that was once the most popular in the sport.