Anthony Joshua's next step on his road to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion is now confirmed, but Ralph Ellis warns it might not be the formality that's expected...
"Joshua is a huge favourite – he’s already as short as [1.15] in the Match Odds as Betfair’s market opened following the announcement of the fight."
So it is finally on. After all the talk, all the negotiation via newspapers about who deserved what split of the purse, then the hush-hush contacts to start really setting up, Anthony Joshua's big date with Joseph Parker is confirmed.
They will meet in the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on March 31 and you can be sure that the moment tickets go on sale they will be sold out in a heartbeat.
Joshua proved that the boxing public have an insatiable appetite for a big event when he filled the same stadium to see him make heavy weather over beating Carlos Takam. This one, giving him the chance to add the WBO belt to his current collection, is a proper fight..
Joshua is a huge favourite - he's already as short as [1.15] in the Match Odds as Betfair's market opened following the announcement of the fight.
When you look at the recent record of 26-year-old New Zealander Parker it isn't hard to see why. He might have an impressive record of 24 wins from as many fights behind him, but his last few have all been surrounded by controversies.
When he won his title against Andy Ruiz junior in December 2016 there was a huge fuss around the majority verdict, with even the President of his own Boxing Association describing it as "bullshit" and saying he was "ashamed to be a New Zealander."
His first defence against Razvan Cojanu was also unconvincing, and then came another points win against Hughie Fury which promoter Mick Hennessey decried as "corruption at the highest level".
It's fair to assume with Eddie Hearn directing operations for the clash in Cardiff that there will be little to worry about in the integrity of the judges if this one goes to points (Joshua by a decision is [4.5] in the Method of Victory market.)
You probably can't blame Hearn and even Joshua himself for already looking ahead to the next phase in the plan to become the first undisputed world heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis by going to America to take on Deontay Wilder.
But there's just something that troubles me about Parker, and it's that somehow he always finds a way to win.
Against Fury he was probably just about in front, but then in the final two rounds produced a flurry that made absolutely certain of it. And if you read the accounts of the other fights from his point of view, rather than through the eyes of sore losers, then he did all that was required of him in them too.
Before he fought Fury I had doubts about how he would travel. Only four of his previous 23 contests had been outside of New Zealand.
But he put that worry to bed with the way he performed in front of a hostile Manchester crowd, showing no fear in what might have been an intimidating atmosphere.
The bottom line is that you don't get a World Heavyweight belt - from any of the governing bodies - free with your breakfast cereal. He's clearly got something, and if Joshua doesn't recognise that and prepare properly the fight might be closer than the early market suggests.