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Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker fight announced for Cardiff in March

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    Anthony Joshua holds two of the four belts in the heavyweight division

    Britain’s Anthony Joshua will meet Joseph Parker in a world heavyweight unification fight in Cardiff in March.

    Joshua, 28, holds the IBF and WBA belts, while New Zealander Parker is the WBO champion.

    Cardiff’s Principality stadium – where Joshua successfully defended his titles against Carlos Takam in October – will host the bout.

    “I’m delighted to get this fight made – it’s been a long time coming,” said Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn.

    “It’s the first time in history that two reigning heavyweight world champions have met in Britain.”

    Joshua added: “These fights aren’t easy because there is a lot on the line – so respect to team Parker for taking the challenge.

    “I’m looking forward to it. Training camp is under way and before you know, 31 March will be upon us.”

    Parker’s representative David Higgins arrived in the UK last week to finalise a deal. Talks had previously stalled over how the purse would be split but a compromise was reached last month which will see Parker, 25, earn 30-35%.

    Parker is undefeated in his 24 professional fights, with 18 of those wins coming by a knockout.

    “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.”

    What does Anthony Joshua want from 2018?

    Joshua became IBF heavyweight champion by defeating Charles Martin at London’s O2 Arena in April 2016.

    The following April, he added the WBA belt by beating Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

    Whoever wins in March is certain to then face undefeated American Deontay Wilder, who holds the fourth belt in the heavyweight division. No boxer has held all four heavyweight belts simultaneously.

    Parker’s camp have been pushing for the fight ever since Joshua defeated Takam last year.

    They staged a news conference in November featuring clips of Joshua being knocked down in his amateur days and offered £20,000 to anyone with footage of him being floored.

    That prompted Joshua to hit back, saying he was being “demonised” by the Parker camp. But Higgins later told BBC Sport Joshua was “rattled”.

    Parker, who will fly to Las Vegas for nine weeks of training, told Radio 5 live that his news conference “played a big part in making the fight happen”.

    “He got angry and upset, ” said Parker. “Everything along the way helped, now we can put that behind us and get training.”

    Parker says he and Joshua have found “common ground” over the purse adding that he “respects” the Londoner.

    “There is no animosity,” added the Kiwi. “I am a relaxed, calm person. I have respect for Joshua, you do not have a 20-0 record if you are not that good.

    “But I think I can beat anyone in the world, I would not be here if I did not believe in myself.”

    On unifying the division, he added: “The world needs one champion.”

    Analysis – history set to be made

    Mike Costello, BBC boxing correspondent

    This is hugely significant. Parker’s representatives have been in London for a week or so and finally the deal has been done for what is the first time two reigning world champions have ever met in Britain.

    It’s also the first time since 1987, when Mike Tyson outpointed Tony Tucker in Las Vegas, that two unbeaten heavyweight champions have met anywhere in the world.

    For Joshua it’s a return to Cardiff – it was at the Principality stadium that he beat Carlos Takam back in October. Parker also fought in the UK last time out – a pretty drab points win against Hughie Fury in Manchester in September – but that took his record to an unbeaten 24 fights, 18 of them inside the distance.

    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/42680632

    There will be three titles at stake and the winner will be in line to face the American Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC title. In the era of four belts, stretching back around three decades, no heavyweight has ever held all four of the most recognised world championship belts, so various kinds of history are set to be made this year.

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