Anthony Joshua has said that he “has no fear” of Joseph Parker but his opponent’s desire to improve himself has inspired him to take the fight seriously.
WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion Joshua is to meet WBO title-holder Parker at the Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday.
The Briton, 28, says he took heed of the 26-year-old New Zealander’s determination to put elbow injuries behind him after surgery in December.
“If I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have taken it too seriously,” he said.
“I swear to you, my coach knows, I probably would have just gone through the motions in training camp. But that’s not the mind-set.
“I’ve heard he wants to improve, better himself. He’s had injuries he wants to overcome.
“I want to prove I’m better than my last few title (fights).”
Last April, Joshua produced the performance of his career to add the WBA title to his IBF crown with an enthralling knockout win over former unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium.
The Watford-born fighter said that contest, in front of a post-war record 90,000 fans at the national stadium, was a bigger test than the one presented by undefeated Parker on Saturday.
“I watched the fight back last night,” said Joshua. “There’s a physical and mental preparation and that had everything in it.
“It’s why I’ll always respect Klitschko and why I’m glad he lost to me because I gave him the respect he deserves. I won’t belittle or undermine him – he’s a great champion and achieved so many things in his career.
“It was like the young lion versus the old lion; inexperienced versus the experienced. It had everything a fight needs – it had respect, the attention of the world, there were belts on the line at Wembley. You can’t beat that.
“That’s what make that fight what it was. The times that I thought I had him gone. The times he thought he had me gone.
“It took me two hours to get out of the arena. You can’t beat that experience and I think it’ll go down in history if I’m honest.”
WBC title holder Deontay Wilder will be ringside as Joshua fights Parker, and could try to pursue a huge unification bout with the winner.
Promotional teams for the undefeated American and Joshua met in late 2017, but Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel has said Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has not been in touch this year.
Joshua said he has put all thoughts of Wilder out of his mind in the build-up to Saturday’s fight.
“Deontay Wilder doesn’t dictate my career. Other people don’t dictate my career – Rob (McCracken, Joshua’s trainer) does,” he said.
“There’s nobody dictating what I’m going to do. Every fight I’ve had has been exciting. Just expect big news every time we fight.
“What we’ve been doing has been working and you have to trust in our process,” concludes Joshua.