Tyson Fury backs Joseph Parker to defeat Anthony Joshua

Tyson Fury is preparing to return to boxing and is targeting a lucrative bout with Anthony Joshua. PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Tyson Fury has made a surprise prediction for the highly-anticipated heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker by backing the New Zealander to claim victory.

It was announced Sunday that the two world titlists will meet at Cardiff's Principality Stadium on March 31 to unify their world titles.

Joshua (20-0, 20KOs), who drew a capacity crowd to the Welsh venue for his bout with Carlos Takam in November, will be defending his WBA Super and IBF belts while Parker (24-0, 18KOs) will be putting his own WBO strap on the line.

While former Olympic gold medalist Joshua, 28, is considered by many to be the favourite to unify the hotly contested heavyweight division, Fury is backing his opponent to pull off an upset when the two come together.

"If I'm honest I fancy Parker, and that's being gospel," Fury said on the Pound for Pound podcast before the confirmation of the fight.

"He's young and ambitious, he's got fast hands, he hits hard and he fights excellent against opponents who stand still and don't move.

"Another thing is I've never met a Maori that ain't tough -- they're all tough as feet."

Fury, 29, is currently awaiting the reinstatement of his boxing licence after his ongoing dispute with UKAD ended in December, with the former world champion accepting a backdated ban.

Under the wing of new trainer Ben Davison, Fury himself is looking to emerge as a contender to unify the heavyweight division when he makes his highly-anticipated return to the ring later this year -- citing April or May as potential dates.

The Mancunian has made no secret of his desire to fight Joshua, and believes that their meeting -- should it become a reality -- will end with one of them being knocked out.

"I'm going to make a bold statement here," he added. "If I get the AJ fight, I'm going to make it a four-round fight.

"Either he's going to go or I'm going to go. He can't underestimate my power and my size and strength."

He continued: "I want to make it a war. I want to make it a Tommy Hearns vs Marvin Hagler remake, but in the heavyweight division.

"Either I'll go to sleep or he will go to sleep. To be honest, I don't give a flying f--- if it's me or him, someone is going."