While IBF and WBA champion Joshua remains a heavy favourite to beat WBO belt holder Parker in Cardiff on April 1 (NZT) – bookmakers and opinion polls reflect that – there is a turning tide behind the 26-year-old Kiwi.
Fresh off heavyweight legend Evander Holyfield warning Joshua against taking Parker lightly and talking up the Kiwi’s chances, comes some encouraging assessments from current contender Jarrell Miller.
“Honestly, I give it a 50-50 chance, to tell you the truth,” opinionated American Miller, who is eager to enter the title equation, told BoxingScene. He backed Team Parker’s ongoing assertions that Joshua has a suspect chin.
“We’ve never really seen Parker wobbled in any one of his fights. But we’ve seen AJ wobbled multiple times in his fights before. And he’s been dropped in sparring and dropped as a professional. So for anybody to really write off Parker, you’re not really doing any justice for boxing.
“I mean, AJ does have the hype and has the publicity. But this is boxing and Joseph Parker really did earn his spot, earn his belt. I give him a 50-50 shot. He’s young, he’s faster than AJ, so I think it’ll be a good fight.”
Miller also had some game plan advice for Parker, seeing another advantage for him. “I think Parker has better stamina. He has to let his hands go, move early in the beginning rounds because Joshua doesn’t have the best footwork and he does gas out by the fourth, fifth round. [Joshua will] try to shoot his gun in the first two to three rounds,” Miller reasoned.
“If Parker can move fast, go to the body, go up the middle a little bit, and wait till the later rounds to really jump on him, I think he’ll be definitely be in the fight.”
But Miller also sounded a warning of the size of the assignment for Parker to beat Joshua on home soil in the UK, especially convincing the judges if he can take the fight to the final bell.
“I don’t see him winning a decision against Anthony Joshua unless he dominates him for 12 rounds,” Miller told BoxingScene.
“You know, AJ’s the golden goose over there. He gets away with a ton of crap over there, so he really has to bring it to AJ in order to get that kind of decision. He really would have to dominate for 12 rounds. He really has to bring it for 12 rounds and hurt AJ.”
Even Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn admits that Parker poses significant dangers to his fighter.
Writing a column for the Daily Mail, Hearn talked up Deontay Wilder after his gutsy win over Cuban veteran Luis Ortiz in New York last week, admitting the American fighting Joshua was the fight people wanted to eventually see and it was one he was eager to arrange.
But there was the not so simple matter of taking care of business against Parker first.
“If you know Anthony you will know he will fight anyone but for now there is only one thing on his mind – Joseph Parker in a spine-tingling unification match up,” Hearn wrote.
“I expect Parker to pose plenty of problems in this fight, perhaps even more than Wilder. If AJ does the business in Cardiff I believe there is every chance you will see Joshua v Wilder in 2018.”