Joshua-Parker unification bout set for March 31

From ESPN - January 14, 2018

The heavyweight division will move one step closer to an undisputed champion as two-belt titleholder Anthony Joshua and one-belt titlist Joseph Parker will meet to unify their world titles.

A deal in the works for the past couple of months has been finalized and the two heavy hitters will meet on March 31 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, where Joshua drew a sold-out crowd of 78,000 for this last fight in October.

"I would like to announce the official news that myself and Joseph Parker will be fighting on March 31 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff," Joshua said on Sunday. "It is a unification heavyweight championship fight. We all know what happened last time I was in a unification heavyweight championship fight. It was grueling, it was interesting and we both left the ring with masses of respect."

On April 29, Joshua defended his world title belt and won a vacant one when he stopped former longtime unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of an all-time classic heavyweight title fight in which both fighters were knocked down and there was tremendous back-and-forth draw. The fight, before a sold-out crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in London, was the 2017 fight of the year and the fifth round was the 2017 round of the year.

Joshua came through in that fight -- barely -- and Parker said he will not have such luck against him.

"Anthony Joshua is in for a huge shock," Parker said. "A couple of months ago I heard him say, 'Why should I be worried about this little kid from New Zealand?' Well, now he's about to find out. And the world is about to find out whether AJ can really take a punch. My entire existence is now devoted to proving what the boxing world already knows."

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, and David Higgins, Parker's co-promoter from Duco Events, spent weeks going back and forth on the deal, ultimately working things out when they got over the major hurdle a couple of weeks ago on how to split the money in what will be a massive fight. Joshua's side will get about two-thirds of the revenue and Parker's side about one-third.

There were some minor issues over the past several days, but Higgins had flown to London earlier in the week to meet with Hearn face to face to work out the final details. Then Parker flew there this weekend with the deal all but done for a fight that will be televised on Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view in the United Kingdom. The television outlet in the United States has not been determined, but it is likely to air on Showtime, which has a deal with Joshua that includes the ability for the network to match any other offer from an American outlet.

"These fights are not easy because there is a lot on the line, so respect to Team Parker for taking the challenge," Joshua said. "And you know me, I love this game. I am looking forward to it. Training camp is underway and before you know it, March 31 will be upon us."


Continue reading at ESPN »