Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker Is a Rare Treat: A Unification Match between Two Undefeated Heavyweight Champions
When IBF, WBA, and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua steps in the ring to face WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker this Saturday, it will be among the rarest events seen in boxing. For only the second time in boxing history, two undefeated fighters will face each other in a heavyweight unification match (the first since Mike Tyson won a unanimous decision against Tony Tucker in 1988). The first unification fight between two undefeated heavyweights in 30 years is made even more special considering having two undefeated fighters face each other in a championship fight has always been a rare event. Dating back to John L. Sullivan vs. James J. Corbett in 1892 undefeated fighters have fought for the heavyweight title only 27 times. This rare event includes the title run of Larry Holmes who faced a record 10 undefeated challengers before finally losing his title and undefeated record to the last one, Michael Spinks.
Facing an undefeated challenger typically puts extra pressure on the champion, but it is not new territory for either boxer in this matchup. For Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker this contest will be their third match against an undefeated opponent in a championship fight. Anthony Joshua is considered the favorite to walk away with the four titles at stake on Saturday; however, many believe Joseph Parker is a live underdog. It can be impossible to accurately predict who will win against two fighters who never lost; however, one thing is certain: The winner of Joshua vs. Parker will set themselves up against undefeated WBC champion Deontay Wilder for the undisputed heavyweight champion, potentially the first time in boxing history one man will hold 5 world titles (6 including the Ring Magazine).Coincidentally, undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has also faced two undefeated boxers in championship fights and would be facing his third if he meets the winner of Saturday’s match in his next contest. The heavyweight division has not had an undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis retired in 2003. No matter who ultimately emerges victorious on March 31st between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker, or who eventually emerges as the undisputed champion in a match for all the belts with Deontay Wilder, it is boxing which should be seen as the ultimate winner.