To stick or twist is the question that has been deeply embedded inside the head of Anthony Joshua since that fateful night on 1 June.

After allowing Andy Ruiz to pour petrol onto the fire in the third round at Madison Square Garden, the Briton paid the price. His opponent clambered off the canvas for the first time in his career before delivering two seismic knockdowns and an eventual stoppage in the seventh round.

Joseph Parker is one of two fighters to have faced both, but with all due respect to Kevin Johnson, the New Zealander is the only man to push both heavyweights in 12 compelling rounds of action. The former world champion is adamant Joshua must switch up his strategy to avoid succumbing once again to the avalanche of shots inevitably coming his way on Saturday. 

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“He’s got to do something very similar to what I did against Ruiz,” Parker tells The Independent, recalling his performance to claim the vacant WBO strap back in 2016 with a majority decision.

“He’s also got to throw more punches. Ruiz is a fighter who you have to throw punches against to keep him out and off you.

“But when you throw a lot and are moving, avoiding big punches coming your way, that takes up a lot of energy. You have to train hard, not a lot of fighters can move around like that over the course of the fight.

“(Tyson) Fury is somebody who does it brilliantly. But it won’t come naturally to most fighters, you’re born with that skill and have to just add to it.”

Parker’s belief that Joshua must change highlights the unique nature of boxing when rematches materialise. Thousands study the initial fight, digging for clues that illustrate how a different outcome might unfold. The unwavering mentality of Carl Froch is a perfect example of how to avoid stumbling into the same pitfalls as before.

“In the first fight (against George Groves) I was on my back foot, circling the ring like AJ was against Ruiz,” Froch noted on The Gloves Are Off. “I was on my back foot, getting counterpunched, trying to land my shots that weren’t going to land and I basically got bullied around the ring and got beat up by Groves. I turned it around because Groves got tired basically.

“But In the rematch I took the centre of the ring and I said to myself throughout a 12-week training camp, I’m not taking a step backwards, if he comes to me, I’m going to meet him as he comes, if he moves I’m just going to cut the ring off.”

It worked beautifully, with Groves denied the same openings as before – and Parker believes Joshua must similarly change his approach to reclaim his belts.

“I think if Joshua boxes from the outside and uses his reach, he can win, but Ruiz is a hard customer to keep at bay. The pressure he puts on is pretty strong,” Parker emphasises.

“The lead-up to the fight (against Ruiz), I had short-notice for that fight, so I don’t think I had the best camp, maybe like Joshua [after Ruiz stepped in on 1 May for Jarrell Miller following his failed drugs test].

“The pressure he put on, I was on the back foot for most of the fight, I was boxing from the outside quite nicely. But his pressure and flurry of punches make him such a unique fighter and he tucks his chin in very well. I think everybody will be interested to see how this unfolds.”

So is there an element of envy towards Ruiz as a fellow heavyweight for being the man to reveal the blueprint to beat Joshua?

“For sure, it’s not only me, but a lot of people,” Parker admits after dropping a points decision to Joshua in their 2018 unification fight. “They’ve seen the way to beat AJ is to put on pressure and throw a flurry of punches.

“But AJ is not an easy fighter to hit, the one shot that Ruiz landed changed the course of the fight, so who knows what would have happened if that had not landed. The whole world will be interested to see how this rematch goes given the first fight was such a shock.”

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