Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker: Fight prediction, undercard, odds, start time, venue

Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) will defend his IBF and WBA titles against WBO champion Joseph Parker at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales (Showtime, 5 p.m. ET), marking arguably the toughest test of his burgeoning career (save the Wladimir Klitschko fight). Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), a native of New Zealand, presents the challenge of balanced boxer/puncher with good size at 6-foot-4 who is currently operating at his physical prime. 

Although Parker, 26, has looked slower and a bit sluggish over his last three bouts despite picking up decision victories, his trainer Kevin Barry attributed that to the added 10 pounds of muscle he put on, which didn't produce the desired effect. Instead, Parker expects to come in Saturday closer to the 235 pounds he campaigned at on the road toward his first title shot in 2016.


More coverage: Card | Joshua on verge of stardom | Parker out to prove mettle


The weight change for Parker is expected to better showcase his hand speed and movement. But weight has also been a topic surrounding Joshua, 27, throughout the build to the fight, despite his efforts to downplay it.

Joshua-Parker tale of the tape

FighterAnthony JoshuaJoesph Parker

Record

20-0, 20 KOs

24-0, 18 KOs

Titles

WBA, IBF, IBO heavyweight

WBO heavyweight

Age

27

26

Height

6-foot-6

6-foot-3

Reach82-inch78-inch
StanceOrthodoxOrthodox

Hometown

Watford, England

South Auckland, New Zealand

Notable wins

Wladimir Klitschko (TKO10, 2017), Charles Martin (KO2, 2016), Dominic Breazeale (TKO7, 2016)

Andy Ruiz (MD12, 2016), Hughie Fury (MD12, 2017)

Joshua came in at a career-high 254 pounds for 10th-round TKO of late replacement Carlos Takam last October. He said during last week's media teleconference he expects to come in at 17.5 stone (245 pounds), which would be his lowest since 2016. 

"You've got to remember with this weight nonsense, no fighter should go into training camp focusing on their weight," Joshua said. "This isn't Weight Watchers and nobody should focus on their weight as such. But I do feel that your weight has to adapt to the style of fighter you're facing. 

"With Carlos Takam, he was a shorter fighter. He came in on the inside and ended up head-butting me, so I knew I had to kind of be able to lean on Takam and tire him out. I knew he was going to move a lot. This wasn't going to be a Kubrat Pulev type of fight where I'm going to be jabbing or counter punching. I was going to be sitting on top of Takam and working into the body so the weight played a good role."

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For this fight, Joshua said he planned on coming in lighter on his feet so he could adjust to Parker's strengths as a boxer. He also refused to buy into media theories that he carries too much muscle on his 6-foot-6 frame, which has caused him obvious stamina gaps during some of his biggest fights. 

"I'm 20-0, I'm unified champ, muscle or not, I'm still handling business," Joshua said. "I feel like people try to find anything to steer your mind from what's working. I'm winning, racking up wins and it's been going well. I wouldn't focus on anything else than what's working."

For whatever speed advantage Parker brings in and durability for having never been down as a pro or amateur, Joshua holds an advantage in power and athleticism. Joshua, however, has never gone the 12-round distance, which is something Parker has five times. 

The winner of Joshua-Parker takes one step closer toward a final unification bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) to declare a true undisputed heavyweight king. While Wilder is ready to fight the winner at any time and any place, he told CBS Sports HQ that he won't be in attendance on Saturday because Joshua's team wouldn't allow him to enter the ring to hype the fight. 

"What's the problem?" Wilder said. "Your promoter [Eddie Hearn] said I need to raise my profile. Your promoter said that we need to put more hype behind this fight to make it as big as possible. I'm thinking, what's a bigger way to hype this fight up than getting in the ring with you if you win at the end of the night? You have over 70,000 people in the audience and millions that are going to be watching. What better way to hype that this fight is finally going to happen?

"At this point, it's just becoming so childish and pathetic because I want to give the people what they want and the people want a unified champion. The people want to see the best fight the best in the heavyweight division. The division was boring until all of us came along and made it exciting."

Joshua vs. Parker fight card, odds

FavoriteUnderdogWeightclass

Anthony Joshua -700

Joseph Parker +450

Heavyweight titles

Alexander Povetkin -2250

David Price +950

Heavyweight

Anthony Crolla -2500

Edson Ramirez +1000

Lightweight

Joe Cordina -10000 Hakim Ben +1600 Lightweight
Josh Kelly -5000 Carlos Molina +1400 Welterweight

Wilder, who rallied to stop unbeaten Luis Ortiz on March 3 in the other de facto semifinal bout, believes Joshua and his promoter, Matchroom Sport, are purposely giving contrasting comments to the media about when or if the fight will happen should Joshua win. From Wilder's point of view, Joshua remains afraid of him

Prediction

Parker's chin will likely decide early what type of fight this turns out to be. Should he be able to absorb Joshua's power and still rely on his speed and technique to get off, it's likely he could build a lead on the scorecards early by boxing. 

But if recent form needs to be taken into account before making a prediction, Parker hasn't quite looked like the same hungry and aggressive fighter he was since winning his belt. After stopping nine of his final 10 opponents before his title shot against Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2016, Parker has gone to the scorecards his last three outings, including two he was lucky to get the nod. 

Despite the fact that Parker's team has blamed the dip on his weight, the hard truth might turn out to be that Parker just isn't the same fighter against higher competition. And the more trading of punches that takes place from close range on Saturday, as opposed to technical boxing from the outside, the more it should favor Joshua as the bigger, stronger and more athletic fighter. 

Joshua has certainly shown his own vulnerabilities in the departments of chin and stamina. But his will to win, similar to what Wilder showed after nearly being stopped by Ortiz, has carried him through a small handful of rough patches in his biggest fights. 

Considering how unimpressive Parker has looked of late and taking into account what's at stake for the winner, punching power and heart could prove to be the most important intangibles. To that end, the advantage in both goes to Joshua, a massive star in his native England who will also be fighting in his backyard, in front of a partisan crowd.

Pick: Joshua by 8th-round TKO. 

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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