Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Focused AJ aims to take a leaf out of Floyd's book

 

By Declan Warrington

Anthony Joshua will take inspiration from Floyd Mayweather to ensure he retains his composure when he fights to unify the WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles tonight against Joseph Parker.

A 78,000-strong crowd is expected at Cardiff's Principality Stadium where Joshua - who yesterday weighed in at 17st 4lb 2oz, 6lb lighter than his rival - attempts to become the first to defeat WBO champion Parker in his first fight since those present at his victory over Carlos Takam booed through dissatisfaction at its conclusion.

The challenger that night for the 28-year-old's WBA and IBF titles was rescued in the 10th round by the referee, before Joshua could secure a convincing knockout, and after he had become angered by Takam's headbutts.

Victory over Takam followed that over Wladimir Klitschko, when Joshua risked defeat in pursuit of an early knockout, but despite external pressure to deliver the finish many expect this weekend, Joshua is determined to remain disciplined.

Given Mayweather preceded Joshua as the world's leading fighter during a run in which he rarely won inside the distance, the Briton said: "You can't always be trying to please people, because you're never going to win.

"Mayweather, as great as he is, goes 12 rounds the majority of the time, and everyone claps and says how great the performance was, but because I don't knock my opponent out in two rounds it's a bad performance. Everyone's got opinions.

"My job was to control Takam, move him around the ring where I wanted him and secure the win so I could move forward to 2018, and that was a mature performance.

"I have to do the job for myself. It's about performance, not just about going in there, looking for him and going 'Bosh' and hoping he flies out of the ring. My job was to perform, control the fight. He didn't give me any problems apart from the headbutt, and people are looking past the boxing IQ.

"If you don't knock an opponent out people are so interested in saying, 'He can't punch, why didn't he knock him out?' rather than saying, 'Did you see that left hook he defended, and came back? Did you see that uppercut?' People aren't interested in boxing IQ anymore. That's why I study the game, I respect that side of it."

It was also felt that in last year's dramatic victory over Klitschko, secured despite a relative lack of experience and which established his status as the world's leading heavyweight, he performed like a fighter in his prime.

He has instead warned 26-year-old Parker that he expects to only begin to enter his prime, and also that he therefore expects to win between rounds seven and nine.

"You're going to see me start priming, but I'm not in my prime yet," he added. "When you see someone in their prime is when they stay at the top for four or five years, when you see someone getting to their prime, that's what you'll start seeing now.

"In my head I have to prepare for a 12-round fight, but if we're talking about where it'll end, I'm hoping to go somewhere between seven and nine."

Parker, meanwhile, is fighting to repay "father figure" and trainer Kevin Barry.

The undefeated WBO champion has again spent the build-up living with Barry and his family in Las Vegas, and therefore leaving his own family behind in their New Zealand home.

Barry and his son Taylor prepare Parker to fight while the trainer's wife Tanya is responsible for preparing their food.

And Parker believes that within that close-knit set-up he has an advantage over the business-like environment surrounding Joshua.

"It's a great strength to be close to your trainer," said Parker. "He's not just like a trainer, he's more like a father figure when I'm away from home. I live with his family, so it's a close relationship.

"You need that in boxing, and that's the reason we've had so much success. It plays a big part.

"It's a big sacrifice but it's all worth it when you're trying to get a better future for your family."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph