CARDIFF (Reuters) – A leaner and lighter Anthony Joshua weighed in some six pounds heavier than Joseph Parker on Friday for the battle of the undefeated heavyweight world champions in Cardiff.
The Briton tipped the scales at 17 stones four pounds and two ounces at the weigh-in, attended by a crowd of more than 4,000, compared to the New Zealander’s 16 stones 12 pounds and seven ounces.
Joshua, the reigning WBA, IBF and IBO world champion, is also taller and with a six inch reach advantage over Parker, who will be bringing his WBO belt to the Principality Stadium for Saturday night’s unification fight.
The Briton had stepped into the ring against Cameroonian-French opponent Carlos Takam in Cardiff last October, for a defense he won in 10 rounds, at a career-high 18 stones and two pounds.
“I’ve been running well, training well,” said the 2012 Olympic champion, who has a 20-0 record with all his fights won by knockout.
“Losing that little bit of extra weight has made things that little bit easier.
“I feel better…if everything goes to plan, you’ll see I’ll be a lot sharper and my reactions and timing will be a lot better,” the Briton told the crowd.
Joshua’s camp had made much of just how seriously the 28-year-old was taking training, his obsession with shedding the pounds and how that had been paying off in his ringcraft and training.
Parker, 24-0, took it as a compliment ahead of what will be the biggest fight of his career, with an 80,000-strong crowd expected through the doors on Saturday.
“It makes me think that he’s taking this fight really seriously, he’s trained very hard,” he said after standing face to face and staring into the eyes of his opponent for the last time before they meet in the ring.
“He’s in good shape, I’m in good shape. There’s not much of a weight difference, which is good. we’re both going to be fast for tomorrow night, we’re both going to move well and throw some big bombs.”
Parker said he saw confidence in Joshua’s eyes, and was ready for anything.
“I’m here for a good fight, I’m here for war,” he declared. “You’re going to have to give me everything to beat me…he’s got a bigger crowd but that doesn’t matter, that doesn’t faze us.”
Saturday’s fight will bring the heavyweight title a step closer to undisputed status and put the focus even more on American Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC crown and is undefeated in 40.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond