Joseph Parker will be in for a gruelling test when he comes up against Anthony Joshua, according to the man that has been sparring with the undefeated world heavyweight champion.
Joshua clashes with New Zealander Parker in the unification fight at Cardiff’s Milennium Stadium on March 31, with the IBF, WBA, and WBO belts on the line.
With the build-up to the fight intensifying, Joshua's latest sparring partner has weighed in with his opinion on how he thinks the fight will go based on his first-hand experiences.
Matteo Modugno, an Italian heavyweight with a 20-0 (11) record, thinks that Kiwi Parker faces an uphill task against Joshua at the end of the month after being part of Joshua's training camp for two weeks.
“I had a fight scheduled in Macau for February 28, but it was cancelled because my opponent retired, so I’d had the whole of January in training camp and my manager Christian Cherchi spoke to Eddie Hearn about sparring Anthony Joshua,” Modugno states.
“I don’t have a very similar style to Parker, but I do have good handspeed; Parker moves more than me.
"When [Joshua’s trainer] Robert McCracken and Eddie Hearn saw me the first time they thought maybe I’d be no good because I’m taller than Parker [at 6ft 6 1/2ins he is a half-inch taller than Joshua; Parker is 6ft 4ins].
"But, after the first two sessions Rob and Joshua were happy. They asked me back for another two weeks, but I had to have my routine medical checks back in Italy.
“I was impressed particularly with Joshua’s power, balance, and mindset, because of how he approached the training, he had focus in his mind.
"Some people prefer easy work, but he always works hard, in and outside the ring. When you have the experience with a world champion you have more self-belief.
"Joshua is a very good man with respect for his sparring partners, which is not easy to find in a boxing gym, especially from a world champion.
"We did not talk much, but he gave me good advice in the sparring…with his punches! I improved my footwork as he has good power and if you stand in front of him you are finished.
"I see Joshua winning, and a very hard time for Parker.”
Modugno, who agonisingly missed out on a high-profile fight with Dereck Chisora in 2013 due to a broken wrist, believes that his experience of sparring with one of boxing's best has taught him invaluable lessons for his own career.
“After the experience with Joshua, you understand a lot of things about yourself,” he reflects.
“I learned a lot. It’s always a great opportunity to watch how a world champion trains, thinks, lives, because in Italy we have maybe three-four heavyweights so it’s very hard, if not impossible, to spar real heavyweights. It is important to spar fighters who are better than you.
“I can be a very good heavyweight. Which belt I fight for isn’t important, but I want a good fight with a good opponent.
"I would like Chisora now, but I think he wants a big name to come back to top level and Carlos Takam [a rumoured Chisora opponent and AJ’s most recent victim, who shares a manager with Modugno] is a big name.”
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