Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s boxing showdown between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker.
Rather unsurprisingly, no one on the Bloody Elbow staff is tempted to go for the upset pick of Joseph Parker over Anthony Joshua in Saturday’s unified heavyweight championship boxing main event. This is the only fight we’re picking, although I have to say that the co-main between Alexander Povetkin and David Price is an awful mismatch that is likely to yield a violent KO from Povetkin. The top undercard bout for me is Josh Kelly (5-0, 4 KOs) against Carlos Molina (28-8-2, 8 KOs), as Kelly looks to build himself up as a future welterweight contender.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker
Mookie Alexander: Parker really has to show a lot more than we’ve seen out of the last few fights. The Hughie Fury fight was among the worst I’ve ever seen, and two judges giving him embarrassingly lopsided scores (in Fury’s own country!) made that bout more lopsided than it actually was. His win against Răzvan Cojanu was one-sided but also not impressive against someone he should be sparking out. Basically, the hype that Parker generated prior to winning the WBO title against Andy Ruiz has fizzled, and it’s up to him to change the narrative, or else he’s going to get crushed. Joshua is the better boxer and there’s no denying that. More power, better technique, more approaches to his offense, etc. Parker has the speed advantage and doesn’t seem to have any glaring cardio problems. One key for me is that Joshua has slimmed down to 242 after going north of 250 for his last fight against Carlos Takam, which saw him look somewhat slow and not as overwhelmingly dominant as we’ve seen in his other matchups. I think a lighter Joshua is one of the keys to combating Parker’s handspeed, and he’ll also keep the New Zealander at bay with his jab. For reasons I can’t really explain, I have a feeling that this is going the distance. Parker will be hurt, but he’ll be tough to put away, and we see Joshua’s KO streak broken. Anthony Joshua by unanimous decision.
Ram Gilboa: The story here is obviously Joshua, with Parker just another chapter leading up to the Wilder showdown a little bit further along the plot. But in the ring ‘opponent number XX’ doesn’t always play the part, some do spoil the narrative. Joseph Parker is a solid boxer. He’s pretty speedy, a good all-arounder, and in his physical prime; that can buy you more than an entry ticket in Heavyweight. Even though Parker doesn’t really shine anywhere – he doesn’t float like a butterfly or sting like a bee – I’m under a firm belief that any solid boxer weighing 240 odd pounds, can beat any other guy on the planet on a given night. Even greats. A good solid determined boxer will get his punches in, and with 240-something pounds behind them you just never know. With that said, Saturday won’t be that given night: Anthony Joshua is a machine in heavyweight. He famously ran the 100m dash in 11.5 seconds when he was just a little bit lighter. He’s an athlete, but he can fight for it too, and he’s getting better at pugilistics in every outing. If he started boxing at earlier than 18 and with proper competition he probably could have become an all-time great, and big as he is, even now he would have given problems to a lot of them. As for this bout, If Parker’s reach was a little longer, or had Joshua been a bit less dedicated than he seems, I would have liked the reserved Samoan chances better than currently. But I see a first loss for him and another KO win for the Brit. Anthony Joshua by KO, round 5.
Fraser Coffeen: I respectfully have to disagree with Ram here – this is not another numbered opponent en route to the big fight. Joshua vs. Parker is a fight that’s been brewing for a few years now, as both men have risen up the ranks and established themselves as 2 of the 3 clear nextGen Heavyweights out there. (The 3rd is of course Deontay Wilder, and yes it’s true, Joshua vs. Wilder is the bigger fight.) We knew this fight should happen at some point, and we’re getting it now with both men undefeated and in a unification fight – that’s a great thing. The one problem, at least for Parker fans, is that the past few performances from each have made this feel more like a mismatch. Joshua has been surging as of late, looking like a true superstar with the talent to match. Meanwhile, Parker has looked like a guy struggling to get by and live up to the expectations. He hasn’t been able to find his power against the (relatively) more accomplished fighters he’s been in there with lately, and has instead had to point his way to close, close wins. And that seems like an unlikely strategy against Joshua. I like Parker’s speed, and his movement, but I still think Joshua beats him in those areas – though it’s close. But those aren’t enough for Parker to take this. They are enough for him to last a bit – maybe even go the distance. But I don’t see him winning the 8 or 9 rounds he probably needs to claim a decision. Anthony Joshua, KO, R8
Harry Davies: I’m a firm believer in assessing fighters based on their last performance. Anthony Joshua’s last fight against Carlos Takam was below par to say the least, and it was topped off by an awful stoppage from the ref. If Joshua fights the same way he did that night against Joseph Parker this Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised if the fight is a lot closer than people may think. AJ clearly has the advantage in the power department, but it’s evident that Parker owns the speed advantage, he has some lighting fast hands for a heavyweight. I see AJ going the distance for the first time in his career, but still getting the nod via unanimous decision.
It’s a good time to be a boxing fan at the moment, especially with the amount of crackers the heavyweight division is producing. Anthony Joshua by UD
Staff picking Joshua: Ram, Mookie, Nick, Fraser, Harry, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Parker: