Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker has taken his most savage shot yet at Anthony Joshua

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Despite their world heavyweight championship unification bout having been announced only a short time ago, the war of words between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker has already begun, with the New Zealander firing the first shot since the fight was made official.

The pair are scheduled to meet on March 31 at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, with each of the WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO belts up for grabs.

The bout marks the first time that a heavyweight championship unification bout has taken place in the United Kingdom.

WBO champion Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) wondered aloud about the origins of Joshua's impressive physique in an interview with New Zealand media outlet NZME on Sunday.

Parker noted that whilst some may call him "the king of pies", he refers to Joshua as "the king of steroids", suggesting that he suspects the WBA/IBF/IBO champion of having used performance-enhancing drugs during the course of his career.

Parker later back-tracked somewhat on his comments, stating that, whilst he was "not accusing" his opponent of having taken steroids, he did believe that it was "a possibility".

"They call me the king of pies, but I call him the king of steroids," Parker told the Radio Sports Breakfast.

"Who knows, if you are that big and that muscly, there's something wrong.

''I have heard word, I have looked at him and I have seen. He has been very close with Klitschko... he has been a reigning champion for a long time.

Joseph Parker Press Conference

"So I don't know... it may be true maybe not."

It should be noted that the Brit has never failed any drug test during his career and that Parker's comments were likely made with the intent of riling "AJ" ahead of their Cardiff showdown.

The New-Zealander's promoter David Higgins quickly addressed his fighter's comments on local radio station Sport Radio and confirmed that he would be advising Parker to "drop it" and to "stick to the things we know" in future. 

“I don’t think Anthony Joshua does steroids. I think he trains very hard to the point of boring. I don’t know why he (Parker) said it. The advice from myself will be to drop it and stick to the things we know.”

Anthony Joshua v Carlos Takam -  World Heavyweight Title Fight

Whilst both men are undefeated in their professional campaigns, Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) is generally accepted to have faced far stronger opposition in his career than Parker. 

Joshua's stoppage victories over Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin, and, most famously, Wladimir Klitschko compare favourably to those of Parker - who struggled to an unconvincing and controversial split decision win over Hughie Fury in his most recent title defence last year.

It is therefore perhaps understandable that Parker would seek to gain an early advantage in the verbal sparring that is sure to continue between the two as we build up to one of the biggest fights of 2018.

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