Heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker will square off in a unification bout at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday night. The WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO titles are all on the line and it is already being billed as the fight of the year.
The winner will walk off with all four titles and be primed to take on Deontay Wilder in a bid to become the first man in the history of modern-day heavyweight boxing (with all of its varied organisations) to hold all of the major world titles at the same time. The loser will leave empty handed, with a career in tatters, so there is a great deal at stake in this contest.
Both men are also unbeaten in their careers, so somebody’s winning streak will be going down the drain. Joshua is the heavy favourite, priced at 1/6 with many of BMR’s green-listed bookmakers and best priced at 1/5 with Betfair and Black Type. Parker, who has won all 24 fights of his career, is the 9/2 outsider with bookmakers like William Hill, Sky Bet, Paddy Power, Unibet and 888 Sport. The general consensus among pundits, ex-pros and commentators is that Joshua will win, and if you agree you have to dig a little deeper to find value.
It is worth noting that Joshua, the British Olympic champion, is now entering the prime of his career, a period in which he feels and seems unstoppable. He is only getting better and has won all 20 of his fights so far by knockout. His athleticism and punching power are phenomenal, and nobody has ever been able to take him the distance. His impressive CV includes a famous win over Wladimir Klitschko, which sent the Ukrainian legend into retirement, and he has overwhelmed tough fighters like Dillian Whyte and Carlos Takam.
Meanwhile, Parker has had to rely on split decisions in two of his last three fights. He has never faced anyone from the top tier of heavyweights, and he has never taken on someone who can hit as hard as Joshua. The Kiwi is also at a disadvantage in terms of height, weight and reach, so he will have to quickly adapt to fighting against a bigger man. In mitigation, Parker has never hit the canvas in any of his 20 fights, while Joshua has, and the New Zealander is a tough warrior with plenty of talent.
Many believe Joshua’s victory to be a foregone conclusion and they are already talking about whom he will face next, Wilder or Tyson Fury. But the Brit is not taking the challenge lightly, and he has prepared for this bout with his usual intensity while paying Parker all the respect his deserves. He will not be in for an easy evening, but he is full of confidence and deservedly so, while the partisan British crowd can spur him on. Joshua has already had a few scares in his professional career and he may get another on Saturday, but eventually you would expect his sheer power to overwhelm Parker.
The bookmakers are so convinced he will knock out the Kiwi that the best price you can get is just 2/5 with Betfair and Marathon Bet, while many will only go to 1/3 or 2/7. A better way to get value is to look at group round betting and you have two choices, providing you fancy Joshua to get the knockout. You can get 7/4 on a Joshua knockout in rounds 1-6 with Paddy Power and Betfair, and 7/4 with Ladbrokes and Coral on a Joshua knockout in rounds 7-12.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, reckons his man will land the knockout blow within the first six rounds, but Parker is a tricky customer and should hold on for plenty of time, so rounds 7-12 appeal more. You could always hedge your bets and cover yourself with a smaller stake on rounds 1-6, and then just sit back, watch and hope Joshua makes it 21 knockouts in 21 fights.