By Keith Idec
Joseph Parker senses Anthony Joshua and his handlers have taken too much confidence from Parker’s admittedly subpar performance against Hughie Fury.
Parker barely beat Fury in the second defense of the New Zealand native’s WBO heavyweight title. The previously undefeated Fury filed a protest with the WBO following that 12-round, majority-decision defeat September 23 in Manchester, England, but Parker’s controversial victory pushed him toward the biggest fight of his career against Joshua.
The 26-year-old Parker suspects Joshua and his team determined after watching the Fury fight that he should box Parker next.
“I think the other side, based on that performance, are underestimating us,” Parker said during a conference call Wednesday. “And I think a lot of people are already writing us off because of that performance. But like I’ve said, we’ve worked on a lot of things and we’ve had a great camp, and it’s gonna be a different fight. It’s gonna be a different fighter you’re gonna see March 31. … If they’re judging us on that fight, then they’ve got it terribly wrong. That could definitely work in our favor.”
England’s Joshua, 28, is an approximate 8-1 favorite over Parker, despite that the 6-feet-4, 240-pound Parker is an undefeated, defending champion.
Four months before Parker edged England’s Fury (20-1, 10 KOs), he went the distance with former sparring partner Razvan Cojanu in his first title defense. Romania’s Cojanu (16-3, 9 KOs) was a late replacement for Fury, who withdrew from that May 6 fight in Manukau City, New Zealand, due to a back injury.
Parker drew criticism for that decisive victory because he was expected to knock out Cojanu.
“Like I’ve said, last year wasn’t our best year,” Parker said. “And probably that [Fury] fight wasn’t actually close to what we can do in the ring. They probably saw a lot of things they could work on to get to us. But we’re a totally different fighter now from when we fought back in last year. We’ve improved on a lot of things and we’re gonna show you all what we’ve been working on so hard in Vegas.”
Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), the IBF/IBO/WBA champ, and Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) will square off a week from Saturday night at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales (Sky Sports Box Office; Showtime).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.