LONDON — Joseph Parker hopes beating Anthony Joshua and then Deontay Wilder will make him bigger than the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), 26, became New Zealand’s first world heavyweight champion when he won the WBO belt in December 2016. He can unify three belts if he defeats WBA-IBF champion Joshua at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on March 31.
Victory in front of 78,000 in the Welsh capital is expected to lead to another unification fight against the WBC champion — currently Wilder. The American makes a defence against Cuba’s Luis Ortiz on March 3.
When asked if winning all four world heavyweight title belts will see him eclipse the All Blacks, Parker replied: “I hope so.”
He added: “The All Blacks is a very well-known team all around the world.
“I played rugby union when I was at school, I played at lock as you can probably tell by my [left] cauliflower ear. I played it for around three years, I enjoyed it, I had thoughts of turning professional at rugby but my dad always told me to focus on one sport so I chose boxing. It was the best decision ever.
“This is a very exciting time to be a heavyweight but also because it’s an opportunity to become the unified champion of the world.”
While Joshua has performed in front of crowds of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium and 78,000 at the Principality Stadium in his last two fights, Parker has never experienced anything so big.
For his last fight, Parker out-pointed England’s Hughie Fury at a less-than-full Manchester Arena in September.
“I was over here before to fight Hughie Fury but this fight with Joshua feels much bigger,” Parker told reporters in London before flying to Las Vegas to begin his training camp.
“Throughout my career I’ve had some big fights and some big crowds but this is going to be a different ball game altogether. I’m looking forward to the training camp but also to walking out in front of 80,000 people at the stadium. It will be incredible.
“I like to be the underdog. I know what I have to do and I know that I have to train the hardest I have ever trained.”