Ryan Burnett
Ryan Burnett beat Zhanat Zhakiyanov of Kazakhstan in October to become a double world bantamweight champion Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

With just over six weeks to go until fight night, the supporting cast for the eagerly-anticipated heavyweight title unification showdown between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker is now really beginning to take shape.

Following his gruelling and controversial 10th-round stoppage of resilient replacement opponent Carlos Takam in October 2017, AJ returns to Cardiff's Principality Stadium on 31 March and will hope to successfully defend his WBA (Super), IBF, and IBO belts in addition to claiming Parker's WBO strap and take one step closer to becoming the first undisputed king of boxing's traditionally most glamourous division since Lennox Lewis.

Following confirmation that Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin will be putting his WBA inter-continental and WBO international heavyweight titles on the line against Liverpool's David Price, a second fight was added to the undercard of Joshua-Parker on Monday (12 February) with the news that Ryan Burnett is set to defend the WBA (Super) bantamweight gold in a clash with mandatory challenger Yonfrez Parejo of Venezuela.

Purse bids had been called on an IBF title scrap between Burnett and Emmanuel Rodriguez after the collapse of an interim fight between the latter and Lee Haskins, according to Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, meaning that his former unified champion has had to vacate one belt in order to honour his commitment to defending the other.

"I'm delighted to be added to this show it's going to be an incredible experience to defend my world title in front of 80,000 in Cardiff," said Burnett. "I don't really get involved in the politics but we knew that when we face Zhakiyanov that is was likely we may have to vacate one of the belts because of mandatories but I've unified the division and now we move on to new challenges.

"I expect a tough fight against Parejo, our styles should gel for a great fight and I'm looking forward to making another statement on March 31."

Fighting on another Joshua-led bill in his home city after overcoming Lesther Cantillano in a four-rounder in the autumn, Joe Cordina will also take the next step in his budding six-fight professional career as he locks horns with Barnsley's 'KO Kid' Andy Townend for the vacant WBA international lightweight title.

"This is the perfect fight for me to start 2018," said the 'Welsh Wizard'. "It's a big step up for me. Andy is a proven fighter, just look at his record – there's a lot of knockouts against some decent names.

"There's no doubting he's dangerous so I'll have to bring my A-game. I think I'm more than capable of beating him to win my first title but I'm sure he thinks similar, it's a good fight for the fans."