Anthony Joshua heads into his bout against rival world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker in Cardiff on Saturday with Deontay Wilder lying in wait — but the Briton insists he is not looking beyond this fight.
Joshua is putting his International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association titles on the line against World Boxing Organisation champion Parker in front of an expected 78,000 sell-out crowd at the Principality Stadium.
It will be the first time two undefeated heavyweight champions have met in a title fight in the United Kingdom, with the British Olympic gold medallist boasting a professional record of 20 wins, including 20 knockouts, from as many contests, while New Zealander Parker has stopped 18 of his opponents inside the distance during an unbeaten 24-fight career.
But next in line for the winner is Deontay Wilder, the American who holds the World Boxing Council version of the heavyweight title.
“It’s 1,000 percent one fight at a time,” Joshua told a news conference at the London headquarters of broadcaster Sky Sports.
“My future stops on Saturday. One fight at a time. All this talk about Wilder. I’m looking at Parker, he’s a champion for a reason.”
Joshua added: “He (Parker) is quick and he can take a punch but that is what I have heard, so I am repeating what people are saying.
“Let’s say I’ve got £20 in my pocket, looking at myself I believe Anthony Joshua knocks out Joseph Parker for sure.”
Joshua had been accused by Parker of showing disrespect to travelling New Zealand media by failing to grant them a separate interview slot last week.
– ‘Take care of business’ –
But he insisted that, after several hours of press duties, he had to eat before heading off for another training session.
“People thought I walked out on the New Zealand press but that wasn’t the case, I had to make a move and I was willing to return,” Joshua said.
“Unless I take care or business, no one is going to interview me.”
Meanwhile Joshua said he was in the best shape of his career after dethroning Wladimir Klitschko in a brutal battle and seeing off Carlos Takam.
“Every fight has been a learning fight and every camp a learning camp,” he explained. “I learnt from the Klitschko fight I shouldn’t use camp to get fit. I took everything I didn’t know then into this camp. I’ve been working solely on my technique and ability.
“Takam was game, he was a lot shorter, he was in great shape. I wanted to control him. I knew there would be a big 2018 on the horizon.”
Parker, wearing a smart suit and glasses, was equally bullish about his chances.
– ‘My time’ –
“It’s great to be here, we’ve had a great build-up and a great camp. I can’t wait to put on a great display on March 31,” he said.
“I’m taking those belts back to New Zealand.
“Joshua is a great champion and we respect him and what he’s achieved. We love challenges.
“It’s my time, I’m young, sharp and am determined to win. I’m here to be part of history, doing it for my team, family and country.
“I’m going to beat AJ, I haven’t decided how I will win. These belts are mine.”
His trainer, Kevin Barry, said he was delighted to be working with a fully-fit boxer following Parker’s history of elbow trouble.
“This has been the most enjoyable time we have spent together for the last eight years,” Barry said.
“I think he has the best skill, the fastest hands of all the heavyweights and I will see if I have been dreaming or am proved right on Saturday night.”
But Rob McCracken, Joshua’s trainer, countered by saying: “Being relaxed and comfortable preparing for fights like this doesn’t do anything for what happens when you are in there facing Joshua.
“You won’t know what’s happening when you get hit by Anthony Joshua.”