JOSHUA ON THE BRINK OF UNIFIED DOMINANCE

History is beckoning on Mr Anthony Joshua. Unarguably, this is his time; and the omen is that he will seize it.

As the calm, soft-speaking, ever-smiling boxer, who is unquestionably hailed now as saviour of world boxing weighed-in yesterday, Friday, looking leaner and sharper at 17st 4lbs 2oz—a stone lighter than in his last fight with Joseph Takam—there is an electrifying emphasis on fitness and endurance ahead of the test.

In a few hours from now, precisely on Showtime at 5.00pm European Time, (about 12.30am West African Time), the 28-year-old, 6.8ft British born of Nigerian parents from Sagamu will step into the ring to defend his three undisputed world heavyweight boxing championship belts: the International Boxing Federation (IBF), the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the International Boxing Organization (IBO) while seeking to add his 6.4ft opponent and world champion, 26-year-old Joseph Parker’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) title in a unification contest that promises fury, blood, knockdown and knockout between two undefeated boxers with a combined 44 ring victories and 38 knockouts.

Like Anthony Joshua, Joseph Parker would be stepping into the ring a leaner, lighter and sharper boxer at 16st 12lbs 7oz. What this means is that both boxers will be emphasizing, power punch, counter punching, foot work, finesse, defence etc. that will definitely result to a first emotional defeat for one of them.

The contest that is scheduled to take place at the 78,000-capacity Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, represents the first time a world heavyweight boxing unification bout will be taking place in Great Britain. Apart from marking the first of such a contest in British soil by two current world heavyweight champions, the match will also mark the second time in history that two reigning, undefeated, world boxing champions with perfect records will be trading punches, according to CompuBox research.

Should Anthony Joshua win today’s contest, it will mark the third time in sports history that a British-born boxer would be unifying and holding at least three undisputed world boxing titles at the same time. Furthermore, he will become the fifth boxer in history to hold three world heavyweight boxing titles at the same time and first to hold four in total. Yet, a victory will also take Anthony Joshua closer to a much more anticipated contest with the American trashy loudmouth and holder of World Boxing Council (WBC) undisputed belt, Deontay Wilder, for a historic shot at world’s first boxer to hold all five recognized heavyweight belts at the same time!

When the two perfect opponents go to war this evening, “Something’s got to give,” according to Anthony Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, in a monitored interview to ESPN.

“And that’s where you know you are going to get a great fight; because I think both guys will be there to win; both guys will be fighting until the end, and it’s not like anyone has experienced that loss before, or how to quit in a fight, or anything like that.”

“The only thing I can see in this fight is a brilliant fight between two excellent, undefeated heavyweight champions.”

Indeed, both fighters know the significance of the fight.

Joseph Parker betrayed no confidence in his pre-fight talk that suggested a slugfest or brawl ahead. According to the New Zealand-born Samoan, he will be fighting Anthony Joshua for his country besides himself and his family.

“I’ve got speed the speed, power, skill, technique, all of the above. See you soon.”

“I’m not here for a pay day. I’m here to take those belts back with me. I’m here to be part of history. I’m not doing it just for myself. I’m doing it for my team, my family and my country.”

“He is at his best. I’m at my best. This is the perfect time for the fight. There are going to be no excuses. Whoever wins is the best on the day.”

“I’m young, hungry, fit and strong. I’ve got my speed back and I’ll show you on Saturday. Let’s go to war,” Parker, whose trainer glowed about how a surgery on his elbows last year has now made him sharper from his best camp ever, warned.

Back in Samoa, it will be just after morning service of Easter Sunday when the country will be in a virtual standstill as its citizens tune in to the capacity stadium to watch Parker, a boxer that has yet to be knocked down as a professional, walk his talk.

So, the multi-million dollar question is: who is going to win this contest of brain, wits, tactics, strategy and strength?

Anthony Joshua is a clear favourite by head and shoulder over Joseph Parker. Having taken the hardest road of the three recognized current world heavyweight belts holders to stardom by fighting and defeating many of the most feared and often avoided boxers, Joshua is rightly regarded as the man-to-beat; in spite of his rivals’ sarcasm that he is yet to fight outside Great Britain.

Staking his personality, character, strength, image, brand, appeal, future and humanity on a perfect 20-0, 20-K0s with 82cm reach, Anthony Joshua can only underestimate Joseph Parker’s impressive 24-0, 18-K0s and 78cm reach, perilously. Of course, he wouldn’t take any chance. By the time he walks into the square rope in the sell-out capacity stadium today, Joshua would have recorded a combined audience of approximate 250,000 fans in his last three fights.

This last fact, more than any other, could have played a huge role in the insertion of an immediate rematch for Anthony Joshua in the event of a loss to Parker, unlike Parker, who does not enjoy such respect.

While the spotlight is on Joshua, his camp does not anticipate a loss, judging from the pain, work and denial he has put into his camp preparation before today. This might have informed the early plan his promoter is making already to take Anthony Joshua to other countries outside of the United Kingdom after this fight with eyes firmly focussed on America, Middle East and Africa (hopefully Nigeria, his second citizenship and the birth place of his parents).

Indeed, Anthony Joshua’s appeal as a global boxing brand extends beyond the United Kingdom. Millions of British citizens, millions of Nigerians and even Americans, where less than 18,000 fans watched Deontay Wilder’s last title defence against Luis Ortiz, will be praying fervently for his victory even as he continues to inspire millions towards making successes of their lives through boxing, sports or any other human endeavour.

“I know about the history of the sport. I know how easy it is to be forgotten about. I just realize that this is my time and I have to capitalize and maximize it and do what’s right for me.”

“This is not about being the fans’ favourite. I’m here to handle my business in the best possible way, and when it’s all said and done, be content with the decisions I’ve made,” Joshua stated.

Despite being the favourite with a 9/1 odd, Joshua is unfazed and ready to add Parker’s belt to his own three in a fight fans are hoping to live to expectation.

“It’s good news that he wants a war,” Joshua replied, before adding, “In boxing, all you need is a good chin and a right hand; but I’ve been working on finesse, technique, counter-punching. I hope Joseph Parker falls into my booby traps because I’m going to set him up with some power shots as well as. Yea, I’ll be up for a war. I’ll hopefully be up for some blood, sweat and cheers from my corner.”

“Physically, I believe in my ability. I’m focussed and I understand it’s a boxing match and the people are expecting the pinnacle of boxing. Hopefully, they’ll be able to see me through to victory.”

If you are still in doubt or confused about what to expect in the scheduled 12-round, especially after Parker, New Zealand’s first boxer to hold a world title, said: “I’m going to beat Joshua; I haven’t decided how I want to beat him yet;” then go back again and read the lips of Joshua, the only current world boxing title holder with 100 per cent knockout rate and boxing’s biggest global star.

“You need to still keep that challenger’s mind-set,” Joshua admonished.

“I’m still the challenger in my head, and sometimes I don’t want to be seen with the belts around me too much. Now that I’m the hunted, it’s no time to just put my feet up and relax. I’m out there defending my throne on Saturday night… I win by knockout; 100 per cent,” maintained Joshua, who has always fought true to his words.

May the better boxer win by 9th round knockout! What are your expectation, opinion and suggestion?

Written by Sebastine Ebhuomhan, an award-winning journalist; now a freelancer, he lives in Benin City.
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