The offers from heavyweights wanting to relieve Joseph Parker of his WBO world title are pouring in, including one from Australian Lucas Browne which the Kiwi boxer's promoter David Higgins is seriously looking at.
Higgins, who arrived back in Auckland this morning after a short break with family in Ireland following Parker's majority decision victory over Hughie Fury in Manchester, is keen on a fight against the undefeated Browne, who has called out Parker for years.
It would be one of the biggest trans-Tasman fights in history and could be held either in Auckland, Melbourne or Sydney - and probably in the New Year. A fight between 25-year-old Parker and the 38-year-old Browne, who had the WBA world "super" title taken from his grasp after he failed a drugs test in Grozny, Russia, last year, would probably be a relatively easy one for Higgins to promote.
Browne, nicknamed Big Daddy, has the appearance of a nightclub bouncer but fights with more finesse than that, and he performed admirably to stop Ruslan Chagaev in his title fight last year before returning a positive test which he has strenuously disputed. Browne has had one fight since - a knockout victory over American journeyman Matthew Greer in Sydney in June.
Parker's win over mandatory challenger Fury gives him the right to choose an opponent for a voluntary defence of his world title, and it will be an opponent chosen carefully for his style as well as the money the fight would generate.
Browne would be far less awkward than Fury and much more likely to engage than the Englishman, meaning Parker, who hasn't won by knockout since October last year, would be a hot favourite to stop him.
"I think it makes the most sense in New Zealand because Joe has an established fan base here and has sold out Spark Arena," Higgins told the Herald of a potential location for a fight against Browne. "Lucas hasn't sold out as many cards in Australia. Time-zone-wise you could hold it in New Zealand or Australia - Melbourne has a boxing heritage... it works either way so we would look at the options.
"A genuine heavyweight title challenge - New Zealand v Australia - you might have cities putting their hands up to back it. It would have to be considered one of the biggest trans-Tasman fights ever."
Another challenge has come from Russian Alexander Povetkin, an opponent who would be far more dangerous for Parker given his quality and the fact the fight would probably be held in Moscow. The connections of Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang, a southpaw, have also made an offer, and a fight against either of those two could be held in December, Higgins said.
"We have people working through the offers at the moment," Higgins said. "The offers have to be real and they have to be substantial. Joe is currently on a well-deserved couple of weeks' break. Hopefully we'll be in a position in two weeks' time to announce the next step."
Higgins, who is also looking at a potential fight against Japanese heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto, said fighting in Russia wouldn't faze either him or Parker, but a clash against Povetkin, who has lost only once in 33 professional fights (on points to Wladimir Klitschko) would pose plenty of risks.
"Everyone in boxing says going to Russia is very risky, so you can get spooked by that, but then again going anywhere in boxing can be risky with things like judging and officials and performance enhancing [drugs], that can occur anywhere," Higgins said. "So long as there is a substantial deal on the table and the risk and return stacks up, it would be considered."
Fighting fit - who's next for Parker?
Lucas Browne (Australia)
Record: 25 wins (22 KOs) 0 losses
Ranked: 13th by WBC
Threat level (according to Herald): 6/10
Alexander Povetkin (Russia)
Record: 32 wins (23 KOs) 1 loss
Ranked: 5th by WBA, 8th by WBO, 12th by IBF
Threat level: 9/10
Zhilei Zhang (China)
Record: 18 wins (14 KOs) 0 losses
Ranked: 12th by WBO
Threat level: 7/10
Kyotaro Fujimoto (Japan)
Record 17 wins (9 KOs) 1 loss
Ranked: 9th by WBO, 14th by WBA
Threat level: 5/10