ANTHONY JOSHUA will face Joseph Parker on March 31, the first time two reigning heavyweight champions have fought on British soil. As a former opponent of Joshua, Gary ‘The Highlander’ Cornish had his say on AJ’s historic next step.

On his own performance against Joshua, Cornish admits it came too soon: “I didn’t think that at the time… but obviously looking back I could have done with more experience.” It’s a fight Cornish claims to have learned a lot from and he’s far from remorseful about his first loss, as he adds, “You’ve got to take your chances when they’re there.”

Parker won’t find himself similarly in need of experience, Cornish argues, “Parker’s had experience. He’s fought a couple of tough opponents. I watched his fight against Takam and Takam’s a tough opponent, you never know, anything can happen on the night. Parker might surprise us.”

Realistically though, Cornish is still expecting another Joshua win, and predicts it will come inside the distance. “I think Parker’s not that big” he notes, “Joshua’s power will be too much for him. I think about round four or five Joshua will stop him.”

In AJ’s last bout, The Highlander argued the referee may have stopped in before time. “It was a bit disappointing it got stopped then,” he says, and it’s not an opinion he is alone in holding, “but if the referee thinks he’s got to protect the boxer he’s got to… I was hoping it would go the distance. He was getting beat like but he wanted to go the distance.”

Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker press conference

It was AJ’s epic showdown with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley that Cornish saw as 2017’s boxing highlight though. “For me it was probably the fight of the year. Both of them were down, they were back up, you didn’t know which way it was gonna go, swinging both ways.

“Was the fight of the year for me.”

Reflecting on any possible chink in Joshua’s armour Cornish says, in reference to Klitschko’s chance to finish AJ: “I think it was there”. He continued, “Klitschko felt like he was in control [after the knockdown] but looking back he probably thinks he should have gone all out and tried to stop him there.”