Anthony Joshua confirms heavyweight showdown against Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium on March 31: 'These fights aren't easy because there is a lot on the line'

  • Anthony Joshua confirmed his first fight of 2018 will be against Joseph Parker 
  • The Brit will defend his WBA, IBF and IBO super heavyweight titles
  • The March 31 bout will take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff
  • It is the same venue at which he defeated Carlos Takam last October 

The worst kept secret in sport is out and the first super fight of the new year is on.

Anthony Joshua, to no surprise, will meet New Zealand’s Joseph Parker at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on March 31.

Joshua’s 2018 campaign to become the first undisputed world heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis begins here. 

Anthony Joshua confirmed he will fight Joseph Parker at Principality Stadium on March 31

Anthony Joshua has confirmed he will fight Joseph Parker at Principality Stadium on March 31

The Brit will fight Parker at the same arena at which he defended his title against Carlos Takam

The Brit will fight Parker at the same arena at which he defended his title against Carlos Takam

If he succeeds in that ambition Joshua will actually go one better than Lewis because a fifth belt, the IBO has since been added to the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO titles.

Joshua will bring his tally up to four if he defeats the also undefeated Parker, who is currently the WBO champion.

Joshua will be a huge betting favourite but Parker is threatening to ‘smash the glass jaw’ of the muscular Englishman, who he believes to be over-rated.

Joshua is returning to the Cardiff scene of his last fight, the harder than expected victory over the unheralded and much smaller Carlos Takam.

He says: ‘These unification fights can be tough as we saw but on that night I came out with my belts and we both received massive respect.’ This is the era of the mega fights in major stadia that Joshua launched with his epic victory over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley, which added the WBA and IBO titles to his IBF crown.

Parker insists he will pull off a huge upset against the man who described him as ‘that little kid from New Zealand’. 

Parker defeated Hughie Furie in Manchester last September during his debut on British soil

Parker defeated Hughie Furie in Manchester last September during his debut on British soil

Nevertheless, the question is already being asked as to how soon Joshua can complete what is now the full set of heavyweight belts by taking on America’s WBC champion Deontay Wilder. 

In anticipation of Joshua beating Parker the wheels are already turning towards the Wilder fight in Las Vegas this summer, which would be AJ’s first venture into the fight capital of the world and another major step towards marketing himself in the US.

Should he be first to pull the trigger between two knockout merchants then the stage will be set for a return to Wembley for the huge domestic bonanza to which Tyson Fury is agitating. 

'These fights aren't easy because there is a lot on the line,' said the 27-year-old Brit

'These fights aren't easy because there is a lot on the line,' said the 27-year-old Brit

The WBA, IBF and IBO super heavyweight title-holder revealed training is already underway

The WBA, IBF and IBO super heavyweight title-holder revealed training is already underway

Fury must first succeed in his application to be relicensed following drugs suspensions, then train off his surplus weight in order to impress in at least one comeback fight. He hopes to make his return to the ring in April.

Speaking further about the Parker fight, Joshua said: ‘These fights aren’t easy because there is a lot on the line, so respect to team Parker for taking the challenge. I love this game. I am looking forward to it, training camp is under way and before you know it March 31 will be upon us.’

The negotiations with Parker were complicated and are likely to be even more so with Wilder and Fury, but as his promoter Eddie Hearn says: ‘AJ should be given even more respect for his willingness to come to terms so that he can fulfil his legacy.’

Deontay Wilder holds the other heavyweight crown, the WBC, which Joshua desperately wants

Deontay Wilder holds the other heavyweight crown, the WBC, which Joshua desperately wants

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