What to Watch: March 31

By Caryn A. Tate on March 28, 2018
What to Watch: March 31
Parker has the type of style that, theoretically at least, could cause trouble for tall boxers.

My pick this week is the heavyweight world title unification between IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua and WBO titleholder Joseph Parker…

Join me as I break down which of the week’s televised fights are most interesting and why. Here’s this week’s rundown:

Saturday, March 31
10:00am PT/1:00pm ET - Sky Sports (UK)
Alexander Povetkin (33-1, 23 KOs) vs. David Price (22-4, 18 KOs) - 12 rounds, heavyweight; Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) vs. Yonfrez Parejo (21-2-1, 10 KOs) - 12 rounds, bantamweight

2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET - Showtime (US)/Sky Sports (UK)
Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker

My pick this week is the heavyweight world title unification between IBF and WBA champion Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) and WBO titleholder Parker (24-0, 18 KOs).

While the odds heavily favor Joshua, the more technically sound of the two, Parker is a good fighter who has shown promise. He has the type of style that, theoretically at least, could cause trouble for tall boxers who like to use their height and reach (like Joshua); Parker utilizes an aggressive style and tries to work his way inside. But his level of opposition hasn’t been great (which we can partly blame on the, overall, somewhat lacking heavyweight division), and even against opponents like Hughie Fury and Andy Ruiz who are not top shelf, he struggled at times. Parker has the right idea, and he has some skill, but he hasn’t seemed to quite put it all together yet. He’s only 26 and has some time to improve his technique, but going up against Joshua, who may be in his prime and has solid fundamentals, is a tough out for Parker.

I suspect we’ll see Joshua doing his best to jab and keep Parker at the end of his punches, where he’s most comfortable and also most effective. Parker will be striving to work his way inside without catching too many punches. That’s the key factor, though, and one that I think will strongly affect the outcome of the fight: if Parker starts getting touched by AJ’s straight right hands or uppercuts (which would be an ideal choice considering Parker’s style), I don’t see the bout going the full 12 rounds. On the other hand, Joshua’s punch selection is fairly predictable and he is slow due to his sheer mass, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Parker is able to get inside and do something with it. I just suspect he doesn’t have the work rate or stamina to function as a true buzzsaw on Joshua, which is what he would need to do to win the fight.

Perhaps just as exciting as Saturday’s match is the anticipation of the winner facing WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Wilder stated when we spoke yesterday that he wants to prove he’s the best in the division by fighting the best. He fought Ortiz, the fighter most thought was the biggest challenge to the champion outside of Joshua, and knocked him out in the 10th round in early March. It seemed to be the perfect setup for a unification between Wilder and the winner of Saturday’s heavyweight bout. Unfortunately, Joshua has been making statements in the media that indicate he’s not in a hurry to see Wilder in the ring. It’s a shame, considering it would likely be the biggest fight in the sport and would set up the heavyweight division—and the entire sport—with a big win. Everyone, even casual or non-boxing fans, loves the sheer idea of an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. If Joshua beats Parker on Saturday, there will be no denying that he and Wilder are the two best heavyweights in the world, and they need to fight. Sooner than later. Simple as that.

7:00pm PT/10:00pm ET - ESPN2
Mark DeLuca (20-0, 12 KOs) vs. Ramses Agaton (20-7-3, 10 KOs) - 10 rounds, junior middleweight

Check out more of Caryn’s work at http://www.CarynATate.com and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker | Trailer | 31st March 2018

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