Joshua vs Parker: Joshua to pass toughest test
In WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, Anthony Joshua has - Wladimir Klitschko excluded - taken on the toughest test of his professional career.
The 28-year-old, for all that he can be expected to improve with the experience gained in his past two fights against Klitschko and Carlos Takam, who respectively took him into the 10th and 11th rounds, was matched more kindly before the opportunity to fight Klitschko arose.
Even amid his inexperience against Charles Martin, Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina, his first world-level opponents, he had taken far less of a risk than that presented by the 26-year-old Parker, a similarly young, hungry, undefeated fighter with a promising pedigree and who is yet to learn how to lose.
The nature of Saturday's fight, at Cardiff's Principality Stadium in front of an expected 78,000-strong crowd, will most likely be determined by Parker's tactics.
He looks both leaner and lighter than he previously has, and has spoken of being in his finest ever condition having had surgery in early December to correct the elbow injuries with which he had long been undermined.
His eccentric promoter, David Higgins, also last week spoke of the importance of the three judges scoring the fight fairly, suggesting Parker is preparing to be cautious and become the first to take Joshua the full 12 rounds.
Where previously their camp has appeared one determined to secure their financial futures with Saturday's highly-significant unification fight against the WBA and IBF champion, they more recently have been both convincing and professional, exuding a confidence they truly believe he will win.
Joshua has so far proved largely one-dimensional and, as the favourite in the Joshua vs Parker betting heading into his latest fight, there is little reason he will not again seek to use his exceptional power at the earliest available opportunity.
Where Parker can pose his greatest threat is by attempting to turn this into a toe-to-toe contest, to fearlessly meet Joshua in the centre of the ring and try to impose himself in landing the fight-changing punch before the more proven champion.
If he instead adopts a more cagey approach, attempts to keep Joshua at bay by remaining on the back foot - his footwork has so far proved limited - and struggles to perform at a higher level than that demonstrated in victory over Hughie Fury in September, Joshua can expect to secure a routine win.
Even if greater aggression would, in the context of Saturday's fight, play to Parker's strengths, he would still be taking a significant risk against one of the world's biggest punchers, and one that can be expected to work against him.
Temptingly, Joshua can be backed at odds of 5/2 to win between rounds four and six. Those of 9/2 for him not to secure a knockdown - with Parker therefore being rescued on his feet - also appeal.
Joshua vs Parker Betting Tips
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