HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONS ANTHONY JOSHUA & JOSEPH PARKER U.S. MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL HIGHLIGHTS
Fri, 23 Mar 2018
JOSHUA CONFERENCE CALL HIGHLIGHTS:
Question: How have your preparations gone and what are your thoughts in anticipation for the big fight?
Anthony Joshua: “Preparations have gone really well. We’re still in preparation now but so far, so good. I do believe a happy fighter makes a good fighter. For the experience over my last few fights in 11 months have gone 11 rounds, 10 rounds, have been a blessing. I’ve learned about training camp and I’ve learned about myself. It’s the first time I’ve kind of voiced up to my coach man-to-man. I’ve said, ‘Look, this is what I’ve thought was working and this is what I feel isn’t working. Can I have your input and can we make some changes?’ Not in a sense of how he’s training me. Just in terms of schedule and it’s been really good. I’ve had some cruiserweights come in sparring for speed, some big heavy hitters who throw big right hands and left hooks and wait for me to make a mistake. We’ve been sparring 15 rounds. And honestly, I’ve been doing this for 10 years now if I rack up my amateur career and my pro career. And you know the 10,000-hour rule. I’m starting to get confident. I’ve had the ability but I think I’m matched up with my mindset now and I’m feeling really good and confident ahead of March 31.
Q: People in the U.S. are excited about your fight with Parker but there are so many American fans excited about the prospect of a fight between yourself and Wilder. What are your thoughts on that and are you able to tune that out ahead of your fight with Parker on the 31st?
Joshua: “You’ve got to remember that a lot of that talk about me and Wilder started in 2017 after he beat Bermane Stiverne but I haven’t spoken much about it. I’ve got great people in my corner that handle the business while I focus on the handling of my boxing technique. We reached out to Deontay Wilder’s team before the fight with Joseph Parker was made. And once that fight didn’t happen, I put Wilder aside and focused solely on Parker. I’m not the one overlooking Joseph Parker and I’m not the one hooting and hollering about what’s happening next. I’m really focused on Parker because as you know, if I don’t get past Parker, it slows down the train and derails everything we’re trying to achieve in terms of becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
Q: Do you allow yourself to think about the prospect of that fight in the event that you win the fight on the 31st?
Joshua: “One-hundred 10 percent. There’s no doubt in my mind that fight will happen. And there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll beat Wilder as well. This is where we’re heading. Fight after fight, my view on it is this…When Wladimir Klitschko was active and his brother relinquished the WBC belt, Wilder won it. If he was so interested in becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, why didn’t he offer to fight Klitschko and say ‘Listen, I’ve got that belt that your brother has had for the last 10 years. Let’s me and you fight now.’ There’s a lot of pressure from fans in America, media and the papers for Wilder to step up and fight. And now we’re here and I’m that champion and I’m definitely looking forward to it. That’s why back-to-back, I’ve been racking up these belts one by one and taking fights. SHOWTIME has been riding with me for six fights, a quarter of my career. And we’re headed towards the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.”
Q: There was a report in the Telegraph (UK) that there’s possibly going to be a meeting between yourself and the people at UFC who are now going to be getting involved in boxing. Can you give me your perspective on you joining their organization and about what they wrote today?
Joshua: “I’m riding with Eddie. He’s backed me from the get-go. And the second thing, I’m a boxer. I’m not into the UFC so I don’t know what their plans are. But every time I’ve been asked about UFC and if I would make that crossover like McGregor did with Mayweather, I’ve said yes.
Q: It wasn’t about Anthony Joshua becoming a mixed martial artist, their intentions are to promote boxing events. Dana White and the UFC view you as someone that any promotional company could build around given your star power.
Joshua: “Oh yeah, a hundred percent. I’m interested because we can all work together. Mine and Eddie’s relationship is a really good working relationship. I’m sure Eddie has an interest in working with Dana White. If it’s good business, it makes sense. I’m not into business. I’m sure Eddie’s not going to say, ‘Dana White, we’re not interested in working with you’ when we don’t know what’s on the table. We’ll listen and a hundred percent, if it makes sense, we’re all in. I’m happy that Dana White is coming into the game and hopefully he can add some excitement, progress forward, make some good money and make some good fights.”
Q: Eddie, do you have any thoughts about the story in the paper today?
Eddie Hearn: “No, I saw it and Gareth [Davies] spoke to me about it today. If Dana White wants to speak to us, obviously Anthony’s with us. We’re willing to talk to anybody and we do great business with everyone. We work with anyone, if the business is right. In the meantime, I’ll sign Conor McGregor and it’ll be fair.”
Q: You weighed 254 pounds for your last fight and there’s been some talk in the media that you’re looking to slim down for this fight. Can you tell us what weight you’re looking to check in at for this fight?
Joshua: “Let’s say 17.5, 17.4 (stone). You’ve got to remember with this weight nonsense, no fighter should go into training camp focusing on their weight. This isn’t Weight Watchers and nobody should focus on their weight as such. But I do feel that your weight has to adapt to the style of fighter you’re facing. With Carlos Takam, he was a shorter fighter. He came in on the inside and ended up head-butting me so I knew I had to kind of be able to lean on Takam and tire him out. I knew he was going to move a lot. This wasn’t going to be a Kubrat Pulev type of fight where I’m going to be jabbing or counter punching. I was going to be sitting on top of Takam and working into the body so the weight played a good role. But now, I’m fighting someone like Parker who’s a lot quicker and moves a lot more. I have to make sure I’m lighter on my feet so I’ve adjusted to the style of fighter I’m fighting. I haven’t adjusted my weight for any other reason than the type of fighter I’m going to be facing.”
Q: Is there any truth to the idea of you being lighter and not carrying around as much muscle could help you in the long run?
Joshua: “I’m 20-0, I’m unified champ, muscle or not, I’m still handling business. I feel like people try to find anything to steer your mind from what’s working. I’m winning, racking up wins and it’s been going well. I wouldn’t focus on anything else than what’s working.”
Q: Do you look at Joseph Parker as the most dangerous challenge in your career thus far?”
Joshua: “No. Wladimir Klitschko.”
Q: How different of a matchup is this to Wladimir?
Joshua: “Wladimir was a phenomenal champion. I just feel people didn’t give him the credit. He doesn’t have a name that a lot of the Western fans can resonate with. It’s not like an Adam Clark. His first language wasn’t English. People didn’t really buy into it. He was dominating. He was a great champion. Ten years on top. Phenomenal. 69 fights and 64 wins. That’s phenomenal. I’m fighting someone that’s 24-0. Everything I learned from that fight was a blessing and it’s led me to being confident ahead of the fight with Joseph Parker. So I’m dealing with a different beast. Parker still poses a threat but doesn’t’ have half the experience that Wladimir had.”
Q: Do you think Parker is the most technical fighter you’ve faced up to this point and if so, why do you think that?
Joshua: “I think it’s because he’s had an extensive amateur career. I do believe the Lomachenkos, Rigondeauxs, Andre Wards have all had great amateur careers which led them on to be phenomenal professionals and Joseph Parker’s had that. I have to give credit where credit is due. But then, so have I and I was always told to leave the amateur’s in the background because the pros are a different game. And now we’re facing each other as professionals. I just think he has that amateur background behind him and he knows how to fight. He’s traveled the world so coming to England is nothing new to him. He’s got that in his locker, which has gotten him this far.”
Q: Looking at your 21st fight, what do you feel at this stage in the game that you need to improve on?
Joshua: “When I look at boxing now, everybody talks about what I need to do to be a great champion and it seems to me that it’s a right hand and a good chin. We might as well go to the night clubs around England and America and just find the biggest and ugliest looking guy and he’ll become heavyweight champion. What I need to do to become a great champion is just work on my all-around game. The fundamentals. We’re talking about balance, footwork and understanding the distance between being in range and out of range. Perfecting your jab. Use your jab 50 times before you throw your right hand. Let’s make sure your right hand is in the right position to defend a left hook in case you get countered. Everything. That’s why I say when I fought Wladimir Klitschko, he had enough time to make mistakes and come back and reign supreme as a champion. So over time, in these types of fights I’ve had early on in my career, I’ve learned what will play massive roles later on when I become one of the dominant fighters in the heavyweight division.”
Q: How do you stay dialed in and not worry about all of the outside noise regarding your career?
Joshua: “Because I know about the history of the sport. I know how easy it is to be forgotten about. I just realize that this is my time and I have to capitalize and maximize and do what’s right for me. This isn’t about being the fan favorite. I’m not here to be pat on the back. I’m here to handle my business in the best way possible and when it’s all said and done be content with the decisions I’ve made.”
Q: How would you assess your performance against Carlos Takam?
Joshua: “I won every round. I got head-butted. I couldn’t breathe through my nose. I realize that Takam was a late step in so I was preparing for someone completely different. So, what I decided to do with Carlos is just go through the motions because I realize 2018 was a massive year in terms of unifying with Joseph Parker and then potentially facing Deontay Wilder providing I win to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. So, my game plan with Takam was don’t be too explosive and don’t take too many risks. Make sure I dominate Takam and I win every round and that’s kind of how things panned out.”
Q: How do you think Joseph looked in his last fight against Hughie Fury?
Joshua: “You’ve got to look at Parker when he boxes on the front and the back foot. There’s two significant changes. When he boxes on the front foot, I think he finds it difficult to land combinations because I just think he struggled a bit against Fury when he was dancing on the edge of the ring. But when he fights people like Takam on his back foot, he’s better. I just think he really struggled with Fury when he was coming forward. I do think he won. I do think Joseph Parker won. We’re both in a position to show how great we are and why we’re real contenders in the division. That’s all it’s about now. March 31.”
Q: Do you feel you’ve gotten the credit that you deserve for fighting Klitschko because of his age?
Joshua: Is Mayweather too old to still fight you think?
Q: They’re the same age, right?
Joshua: Exactly. People still say Mayweather is still young and that he can still compete. The difference is, lighter weights struggle to maintain their finesse because they have to stay on a diet. They starve their body of nutrition. Heavyweights mature later. When Klitschko lost, everyone who knows boxing knew he wasn’t in the right mind frame. When he came to fight me, I just knew. He didn’t say he’s in great shape. He didn’t say he was feeling strong, but he said he’s obsessed. When your mind is right, the body will follow. That win against Klitschko was tough, I didn’t take him to points. I didn’t go there to steal the belt. I took it with both hands and it was a great fight for the history books. I’m not looking for credit, I know what that fight was and what it meant to me.”
Q: [To Hearn] What are your thoughts about Anthony’s focus on Parker with all the talk of Wilder?
Hearn: “We never have to worry about Anthony’s focus. He’s probably the most focused and driven individual you can meet. He knows the challenges and risks in front of him against Joseph Parker. One thing about Anthony is that he’s not real big on hype. We’re not really into storming the ring after fighting. When we got Klitschko in the ring after the fight, we signed a contract a few hours before that was in existence if Anthony won against [Eric] Molina that night. Until that fight is signed, Anthony won’t really get excited about that fight. He’s not really interested in talking about it or hyping it. It’s the biggest fight in world boxing. It’s a fight that’s completely irrelevant if he’s not victorious next Saturday. I don’t think that it’s Deontay Wilder, it’s the other stone that needs to be turned to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. This is Anthony’s 21st fight and effectively his second unification fight. Deontay has had 40 fights. We’re well ahead of schedule. All of these fights will happen and the reality is the one that put pens to paper and that are actually happening.”
Q: How important is it to you to maintain your one-hundred percent KO ratio?
Joshua: “It’s great for the record and promotion. It’s not as important to fulfilling your game plan. Some fighters will be tough and some fighters may not be there to be knocked out. I have to have it in my locker also to be able to go the distance. In terms of promotion and saying I have a hundred percent KO ratio is great. I don’t think there’s any heavyweight in the history of his career that’s been able to have purely knockouts on his record so I don’t expect to be the first one.”
Q: When you saw Wilder fight Ortiz, did you see anything that you didn’t know about him already? Did he impress you or let you down?
Joshua: After 10 years as a professional and 40 fights in, Wilder’s done what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to win. He’s supposed to beat someone like Luiz Ortiz. After 10 years of any craft. Let’s say you’re working in sales and you can’t sell a person that Mercedes-Benz or whatever car it is, you’ve got big issues. Wilder’s had that experience to be able to dominate that division. He just did what routinely is supposed to happen and get the win. He struggled a bit, but he got there in the end. That’s all that matters. That’s what shows up in the history books, a W. So, I’m happy for him.”
Q: Can you elaborate on what makes you think Parker is a weird character?
Joshua: “I can’t put my finger on it.”
Hearn: “I think the weird thing was alluding to the fact that he was boding Anthony with criticism and then when we had the press conference he was nice as pie. We expected him to bring that fire to the press conference and maybe he’ll bring it next week. He was kind of one person prior to the fight and then another when we came face-to-face. But we’ll see what happens next week.”
Q: [To Hearn] Is there a rematch clause for this fight and what are the circumstances with that?
Hearn: “The details of the contract are always confidential. When there’s a great fight and the appetite to see it again, generally you’ll get it.”
Hearn (Opening Comments): “It’s a huge event. This is our sixth fight with Anthony Joshua and SHOWTIME. It’s incredible, really that we’ve had that amount of fights. It seems like the Charles Martin fight was just like yesterday. It’s incredible that in 11 months, Anthony Joshua has had three stadium fights. Of course, Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam and now Joseph Parker. There have been 240,000 fans and over 2.5 million UK pay-per-view buys. It’s been an incredible run and an incredible 11 months. And a great March of course for SHOWTIME with a brilliant fight between Wilder and Ortiz and I think this fight has all of the ingredients to be even better than that. It’s a great fight. Two undefeated young heavyweights. Fearless, fast, big punching, great footwork, 24-0 against 20-0. I think it’s the kind of fight that we need in the world of boxing and it’s the first-ever unification fight in Britain between two reigning heavyweight world champions. And the first time in the history of the sport that two heavyweights have fought a unification fight with perfect records. It’s going to be a huge week. We have a huge press conference at SKY next Tuesday, we have a public workout on Wednesday, the weigh-in is a national holiday on a Friday, it’s going to be huge. Seventy-eight thousand people crammed in to Millennium Stadium for this huge unification fight. This is just the beginning for Anthony Joshua. Just another stepping stone to becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and we can’t wait. It’s a great fight and we thank SHOWTIME for all their support as ever.”
PARKER CONFERENCE CALL HIGHLIGHTS:
STEPHEN ESPINOZA (Opening Comments):
“Through the first six months of this year we will be delivering 11 marquee events, which includes matchups of five top-ranked fighters, of which this is one, and two unifications, of course which this is one. In this month of March all four heavyweight world title belts are at stake on SHOWTIME.
“This fight, Joshua vs. Parker, will be the 12th heavyweight fight on SHOWTIME within the last three years. We’re proud to be doing our part to help propel the reinvigoration of the heavyweight division. During those last three years the U.S. audience has gotten to know a little bit about Anthony Joshua and we are very happy to be able to further introduce them to Joseph Parker, the consensus top three heavyweight in the world and WBO Champion making his third defense and his first appearance on SHOWTIME.
“We are thrilled to have this fight; it’s right in our wheelhouse, a highly competitive, highly anticipated matchup of top fighters.”
Joseph Parker: “Preparations “It’s been a great training camp that we’ve had in Las Vegas and now we’re here in London. We have about a week and a half before the fight and like Kevin mentioned, we hit the ground running. We got some good sessions in. I’m looking forward to fighting an undefeated fighter like Anthony Joshua, who I respect. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to unify the division and unify the belts and the opportunity to put on a great display and make my mark on SHOWTIME. I can’t wait for it. Our team is excited to be here and it’s going to be a great opportunity for us.”
Q: When you watch the struggles Joshua had against Klitschko, what do you take away from that fight?
Parker: “I think being active has worked well for us. I watched that fight. He did really well in terms of coming back and showed a lot of heart to get back up off the canvas and finish off the fight and getting the win. Coming into this fight, we’re young, we’re hungry and I think if we did get him in trouble there’s no waiting for us. We know how to finish off a fight. We know how to put on the pressure and get him out of there. He has strengths and weaknesses like every other fighter has and we’ll come up with a good game plan which I believe in and if I execute, I think we’ll get the victory.”
Kevin Barry: “As we know, there’s no secret about it, this is the biggest test that Joe’s had in front of him. But I also believe that this is the biggest test that Anthony Joshua’s had in front of him. We are expecting a much better Anthony Joshua than the one that fought Klitschko. I think there’s a lot of improvement in him just as there’s a lot of improvement in Joe. We’re anticipating that the styles of both these guys are going to make for a real fan-friendly fight and a very exciting fight.”
Q: There’s so much attention paid to an Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder fight, as if it’s an assumption that he’s going to beat you. Does that bother you?
Parker: “It doesn’t really bother me. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and the fight they want to see. I think what’s important for us is that we focus on what’s in front of us and that’s Anthony Joshua. Our focus is on Anthony Joshua and being in great shape and being healthy. It gives us motivation in training and we know what our focus is. Our focus is Anthony Joshua and putting on the best performance of our lives March 31.”
Q: As a fan of boxing, how good is a match like this for the sport?
Parker: “A match like this is a very big deal. As a fan of boxing and as a fighter, we love to watch the big fights and be involved in the big fights. So we’re pretty happy to be involved in the fight. I think it’s the best time for us to be involved in a big fight like this. Back a few years ago, Kevin said he’s always wanted to fight Anthony Joshua and he said to me, when we do fight this guy, it has to mean something. And it does really mean something this time. We’re both undefeated, we both have titles, we’re both world champions and we both want to unify the division so it’s going to mean a lot and it’s a big occasion.”
Q: A lot of fans don’t know you in the United States, explain to them what you will bring to the table on March 31.
Parker: “The fans haven’t really seen the best Joseph Parker there is. Going into this fight, we’ve worked on a lot of things. Like I said, I trust in my whole team. I trust in my coach and the game plan. I’m going to bring a lot of movement, speed and power and a lot of angles. I promise that this is a fight that I’m going to make very exciting.”
Q: What was the reason behind losing weight heading into this fight?
Barry: “Joe’s still a very young heavyweight. We’ve been together for five years and we’re still a long way away from a finished product. Last year, we bumped Joe up quite a bit. We put a bunch of muscle on him. We put an extra 10 pounds of weight on him and it actually doesn’t really work out for us. So we sat down, Joe and I, and we said that we felt he was a busier fighter, a more mobile fighter, his feet and hands were faster, when he was lighter. So for a fight like this against a big, strong, powerful guy like Joshua it was important that we went back to a mobile, lighter fighter.”
Q: Do you think Joshua and Eddie Hearn saw something the rest of the world didn’t see in your fight against Hughie Fury, which wasn’t your best performance?
Parker: “Last year wasn’t our best year and I wasn’t close to what we can actually do in the ring. They probably saw a lot of things that they could work on to get to us but we’re a totally different fighter now from where we were last year. We’ve improved on a lot of things and we’re going to show everyone what we’ve been working so hard on in Vegas.”
Q: What would it mean to you to become the unified heavyweight champion?
Parker: “It would mean a lot. It would mean the world, not only for myself but for our team. There’s a lot of people that’s involved in getting me to this stage and there’s a lot of people that want me to go out there and put on my best performance. It’s going to mean a lot for myself, my team, my coach and my countries of New Zealand and Samoa.”
Q: Are you concerned that if the fight goes to the scorecards you won’t get a fair shake because of Joshua’s popularity in Great Britain?
Parker: “I’m not concerned and the reason I say that is because we have good officials. My team has done a great job to get neutral officials and my focus is on the fight. I want to go out there and do my best. Whatever happens, happens. But I trust that the officials will do the right thing and give the right decision.”
Barry: ”It was very important for us when we were formulating this contract that we had independent, neutral officials. We have three judges – one from the United States, one from the UK and one from New Zealand. And we have an Italian referee so we’re very happy with the names that have been put forward that there will be no disputing the decision. We believe that we have fair, very experienced officials who will do a good job come Saturday the 31st.”
Q: Do you think Joshua is underestimating you based on what they saw in that fight against Fury?
Parker: “I think on that performance, they are underestimating us and I think a lot of people are already writing us off because of that performance. But, like I said, we’ve worked on a lot of things and we had a great camp and it’s going to be a different fight as you guys will see March 31. If they’re judging us off that fight, then they’ve got it totally wrong. That could definitely work in our favor.”
Barry: “I think the same will go for both camps. If they’re looking at the Fury fight, we know that Joseph is a much better fighter than that. Fury was a very awkward opponent, an opponent that we wouldn’t have even been in the ring with if it wasn’t for a mandatory. Looking at Joshua’s last fight with Carlos Takam, he really didn’t light the world on fire in that fight and he left a lot of question marks about his performance. We’re expecting a much better Joshua than the one that fought Carlos Takam. So the same can be said both ways.”
Q: What did you think of Joshua’s performance against Takam?
Parker: “It wasn’t his best effort but he did what he had to do to get the victory. Maybe training with someone who was a lot taller and then fighting somebody shorter changed the way that he approached the fight but I think the main thing is that he got the victory and he kept the belts and that’s why we can make this big fight happen.”
Q: What do you think your advantages are over Joshua?
Parker: “I’ve been 12 rounds five times so I’m durable. With this training camp that we’ve had, we’ve worked a lot on different angles and speed. What we’ve been seeing in the gym and in sparring, we’re going to put on display come fight night. I think I have advantages in speed and power. If we execute it well on fight night then he won’t be able to catch us and he won’t be able to land that big shot that he throws.”
Barry: “Speed is the key. We’ve always believed that Joe’s the fastest heavyweight in the world. I also believe that out of all the heavyweight champions, I think Joe has the better skill. I think he does things better than Joshua does. I think he’s more complete than Joshua. Is he as big as Joshua? No. Is his reach as long as Joshua’s? No. Joshua’s got a 100 percent knockout record but I believe Joseph Parker is a better skilled fighter than Antony Joshua and I think when we put the movement, the hand speed and the skill together, it’s going to be a very good combination and a successful combination on March 31.”
Q: Do you want to make a prediction for the fight?
Parker: “I’m going to be victorious. It’s going to be a great fight. We’re both hungry, we’re both undefeated and we’ve both been training hard but I believe in myself. I believe in my team and what we’ve been working on. I believe I’m going to be victorious March 31.”
Q: Do you think that Joshua’s chin is a big weakness for him?
Barry: “I think he has a pretty good chin. I know that we used the glass door as part of our marketing strategy in putting this fight together, but we believe as a team that Joshua has a good chin. He’s fought some big guys. He’s been hit on the chin before. Sure, he got dropped against Klitschko and there were stories of him getting dropped multiple times in the amateurs and that he was dropped in the gym in sparring, but all in all he’s a big, strong, powerful guy and I think his chin is not too bad.”
Barry (Opening Comments): “We’ve been in the gym running each morning at 6:30, 7:00 and in the boxing gym at 2:30. We’ve been doing between 16 and 18 rounds of boxing each day. Today we sparred and Joe is looking very sharp, very confident and the little bit of jet lag that we had is getting less and less by the day and we anticipate by this weekend we’ll have both feet firmly planted on the ground ready for a big week next week.”
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