Anthony Joshua makes no claim to being the new Muhammad Ali, but he does fancy that he is catching up with The Greatest when it comes to predicting the rounds in which he knocks out his opponents.
‘This ain’t no jive, Cooper falls in five,’ said Ali with psychic precision when he came to London to beat Our ’Enery.
‘I usually know the time, Parker fades in eight or nine,’ says Joshua as he divines the outcome of Saturday night’s world heavyweight title unification battle with Kiwi Joe in Cardiff.
‘Ali was something else but I’m usually close to the point,’ adds our holder of the WBA, IBF and IBO titles as he prepares for his attempt to claim Joseph Parker’s WBO belt.
By way of evidence he cites his preceding championship defence: ‘A lot of people thought I would stop Carlos Takam in two or three rounds. I said it would take me ten and I was spot on.’ There speaks a natural born fighter who is immersed in the history of the hardest game.
His next comparison is with the legend he conquered in his first unification battle For Wladimir Klitschko, the effort of coming back from defeat by Tyson Fury in an attempt to find redemption by beating Joshua was a self-confessed obsession which he fell short of gratifying..
‘I am definitely preparing for a 12-round fight’, said the undefeated Brit on Wednesday
For Joshua,going on from that epic night to beat the rest of the best heavyweights has become what he describes as ‘an addiction.’ One which is driving him down the road to becoming the undisputed champion of the world.
‘I’m not obsessed like Wladimir,’ says the English giant who already has most of the belts which can fulfil his ambition.
‘I have an addiction which is fun, especially when I’m winning fights like I am now. And like I expect on Saturday.’ That is a prediction which demanded the eight-to-nine clarification. Not least because a 66 per cent majority of Joshua’s fellow Brits are taking the more generous odds of 5-1 for a Joseph Parker upset.
Joshua remains the 1-9 favourite with Ladbrokes but the bookies are feeling nervous about the money flowing onto the New Zealander whose lone WBO belt.
AJ reassures them: ‘I’ve trained for 12 rounds but it won’t go the distance.. This is my life. Just my life. I didn’t choose a career path after college or go to uni. I chose boxing. It’s challenging, because part of the addiction is having to keep improving.’
In that necessity, he reverts to Klitschko again: ‘I talk a lot to Wladimir’s last trainer, Jonathan Banks. Talk about how even after a decade as world heavyweight champion Wladimir kept learning, kept improving his jab, quickening his movement.
‘It’s reminded me that in my era there is no room for mistakes. Even after 20 straight K0s I’m not satisfied. It also taught me about controlling these medi conferences. During my stare down with Wladimir he suddenly said ‘we’ve done this before so let’s look away in five…..one, two, three, four five.’
As for the betting patterns, the richest heavyweight champion of all time says: ‘If I had £20 in my pocket, I would put it on Anthony Joshua to knock-out Joseph Parker.’ Like our royal family, the British giant known as AJ keeps his wealth in the bank.
The courtesies were observed at the last media conference before they fight for each other’s world titles in front of a near-80,000 crowd in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday night but the basic message was curt.
Glancing up from his trio of belts he fixed his gaze on Parker and said: ‘Every fight is a blessing for me. Every fight has a reason in the long run.
‘Joseph Parker is about to add something to my life journey.’ Presumably, that includes the WB0 belt which Parker brings with him to this argument. A trophy to which he is clinging with two arms, both of which needed elbow surgery shortly before Christmas.
Joshua v Parker will be televised live on Sky Sports Box Office this Saturday night.