Anthony Joshua could be dangerous in a 12-round fight, says former opponent and fellow former world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker.
Parker was the first man to go championship distance with Joshua when he lost the WBO belt to the then-unified champion in 2018.
New Zealander dismisses suggestions Joshua’s preparation will let him down in his monumental rematch with Alexander Usyk, live Sky Sports Box Office on August 20.
“He can always be dangerous,” Parker said of Joshua. “He has the natural ability of a heavyweight to hurt people and hurt other heavyweights. Let’s see what his plan is for this fight and see where his head is at. You can be physically in great shape, but mentally, if you’re not there, it’s a waste of time.
“He was a good champion and he can be champion again. It’s just up to him now. It’s up to him and his new team to make the changes he needs to attack what Usyk will bring. There is a lot of support for him. Everyone supports it here in the UK. But Usyk also has a lot of support from home as well, so we’ll see what happens.”
New Zealand’s Parker fights Joe Joyce on September 24 to determine the top contender to challenge the winner of Usyk-Joshua. That’s why he has a keen eye on this August 20 clash for the WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.
“I’ll have to side with Usyk [winning] just because of the confidence he’ll go into the first fight with. But it will be interesting,” Parker said Sky Sports.
“I can see it’s going to be a great fight. The first fight was a fantastic fight. I’m not sure what Joshua is doing with his team, in terms of changing his trainer and how he’s going to adjust and change his style in the second fight.”
To make his way to the winner between Usyk and Joshua, Parker had to beat Joyce twice. The Londoner has a rematch clause which he can trigger if he loses the first race.
“The plan is just to focus on this fight, get the job done and then do the rematch again in December. Do the same, get the job done and win and see what happens next. The heavyweight division is always changing. She doesn’t stay in one position for long. You have a rematch with Joshua and Usyk and things can change, someone else can come into play,” Parker said.
“My plan is to win. Every fight is win, win, win,” he continued. “Win, then a second leg in December and win again on Sky. The first fight will be on BT and the second fight will be on Sky. They wanted a rematch clause to protect [his position].
“If it’s an exciting fight, I think people will be happy to see it again, but if it’s not, we’re still stuck with this rematch clause.”
Considering their respective styles, the fight is likely to be exciting. “He’s healthy,” Parker said of Joyce. “Very tough, very tough fight, big challenge. He is bigger than me.
“His record speaks for itself. Fourteen fights, 13 knockouts. He’s really got power, he’s got a great engine, we’ve seen he can take a punch and he’s ranked high in the WBO and WBC over me and there’s a reason why. Because he’s a big challenge for anyone and he’s got a great amateur pedigree.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight and hopefully it lives up to what we think it should be or can be.”
Insight into Joshua’s training camp
Olympic super-heavyweight bronze medalist and Great Britain boxing team captain Fraser Clarke trains alongside Joshua in Loughborough.
He was in camp before the former champion set up his training base in Jeddah for the final few weeks ahead of the rematch with Usyk.
Clarke has been impressed by what he has seen and is adamant that Joshua’s training will hold up.
“He runs. He runs hard to get fitter,” Clark said Sky Sports. “[People say,] “AJ is big, he’s full of muscle, he blows himself out after six rounds.” He runs and trains very hard.
“Running isn’t the be-all and end-all, but he trains very hard to counter that. It’s one of the things he admits he can improve on since the first fight. And it’s simple math, I didn’t do enough of it,” Clark continued, “so I’m going to do more of it. Check this box.
“You have about 10 boxes as a fighter going into battle that you have to tick. If you tick eight of them, you might be lucky, you might win. If you tick 10 of them, you give yourself every chance.
“For me, it ticks all those boxes.”
Anthony Joshua’s huge heavyweight rematch against Alexander Usyk is on Saturday 20 August, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book Usyk vs. Joshua 2 now!