Anthony Joshua will take on Joseph Parker at Cardiff’s Principality stadium on March 31.
Joshua, who is looking to unify the heavyweight division, would add the WBO title to his WBA and IBF straps with victory over the New Zealander.
Negotiations have been on-going since Joshua’s less-than-impressive TKO win over 37-year-old Carlos Takam back in October.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Joshua said: “I like to fight, that’s the main objective, and it’s showing I’m never shy of a competition.
“He’s a respectable competitor, he is the WBO heavyweight champion of the world, so it’s like one step closer to adding a strap to my legacy, that’s what makes it exciting.”
Speaking after AJ’s victory over Takam, Parker said of the British fighter: “I’ve said it many times: I’d love to fight Joshua so I can show what I’ve got. He’s good – he’s big, strong and learning, but I think he’s just average, he’s robotic. The jab he was throwing was very slow. He steps up all the time but I don’t think he looked that impressive. There wasn’t a lot of movement.
WBO champion Joseph Parker said he was relieved the contractual negotiations had now been concluded as he could now fully concentrate on the job in hand.
🗓️ March 31
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) 14 January 2018
“Anthony Joshua is in for a huge shock,” Parker said. “A couple of months ago I heard him say, ask why he should be worried about this little kid from New Zealand? Well, now he’s about to find out. And the world is about to find out whether AJ can really take a punch. My entire existence is now devoted to proving what the boxing world already knows.”
The announcement comes just days after Tyson Fury called out Joshua, insisting he wanted his first fight back in the ring to be against the current champion.
There is no better place to see UAE’s culture come to life than Heritage Village, set up for the fourth consecutive year by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) at Global Village, which transports spectators to the rich past of the emirates every evening.
The Village features the Meydan, a prestigious platform that has played a vital role in keeping UAE’s unique traditional sport – Youlah – alive with the Fazza Championship.
Youlah dance has been a long- standing tradition in the UAE culture with its origins in the army as a celebratory jig that was done with real weapons in the past.
It has come a long way since then, evolving aesthetically into a sport as rifles were replaced by replicas.
The performer or ‘Yaweel’, as they are called, go through rigorous training to master spinning the rifle with the lightest of footwork.
The performance also includes flinging the rifle as high as possible before catching it. A laser beam scans the sky at a height of 17-20m. A loud buzzer goes off when a contestant reaches that height with the rifle throw.
Youlah is an integral part of Emirati culture. Practice starts early in life with the sport a symbol of pride for Emirati men.
Championship organisers HHC have revised the format of competition this year with 16 finalists and a stand-by team chosen after a record number of 411 took part in the qualification rounds held on November 23-24 at Al Meydan Fort in Global Village.
Four contestants perform during each episode from which two will qualify to the next round.
A public vote will be taken into account while finalising the four semi-finalists who will then fight it out in the grand finale.
This week was the third episode of the Youlah Championship and the season will run until March with a grand prize of Dh1 million on offer.
Judges evaluate contestants on footwork, rotation of the rifle, the throw, catch and overall fluidity of the movements, before awarding a score out of 50.
HHC works tirelessly to pro- mote and preserve Emirati heritage sports and with the use of latest digital technology they have enhanced the experience and taken the tradition sport to a whole new level.
“We have witnessed a remarkable development over the past 13 years in the Meydan programme, which is broadcast on the small screen and reaches millions of viewers in the country and abroad. It high- lights the heritage of the people of the UAE and the success of this legacy,” said Suad Ibrahim Darwish, director of Champion- ships at HHC.
Darwish added competitions like Youlah embody the centre’s efforts to conserve and promote traditional sports among the new generation.
“We have been conducting the Fazza Championship for Youlah for the past 18 years. We are reaping the results of having programmes throughout the year for the youth of the country to exercise their skills in this unique traditional sport.
مقتطفات من الحلقة الماضية من #بطولة_فزاع_لليوله_للكبار #الميدان_13 ____________________________________________________ بطولة فزاع لليوله (الميدان) 2018/3/16 - 2017/12/08 ____________________________________________________ جميع بطولات فزاع برعاية الطاير للسيارات ولاند روفر مطارات دبي عبدالواحد الرستماني "العربية للسيارات" مركز دبي التجاري العالمي القرية العالمية وإذاعة الاولى _______________________________________________________ #بطولات_فزاع #مركز_حمدان #الميدان #اليوله #اليويل #اليويله #سلاح_اليوله #بطولات #بطولة #بطولة_فزاع #موسم_البطولات #بطولات_فزاع_لليوله #بطولة_فزاع_لليوله_للكبار #ميدان_اليوله
Most of the contestants graduated from competitions at the Fazza Championship Summer Youlah for Junior and Fazza Championship Youlah for Schools.
“It is very important that the new generation grow up with a passion for the sport of Youlah,” she said.
To help contestants with their performance, HHC announced special daily training programmes at Al Meydan Fort in Global Village from 17:00 to 20:00 conducted by professionals. The programme is open to everyone.
The Youlah Championship is broadcast live on Sama Dubai every Friday from 21:00.
Sports stars all around the world, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Virat Kohli and Lionel Messi, took to Twitter and Instagram to welcome 2018.
Here’s how some of the world’s biggest stars wished their fans a happy new year.