Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Joseph Parker fight turns sour outside the ring

Olympic legend Dick Quax. Photo / Doug Sherring
Olympic legend Dick Quax. Photo / Doug Sherring

The Joseph Parker heavyweight world title fight is veering into a slugfest between promoter Dean Lonergan and Olympian Dick Quax.

Quax, who won silver over 5000m at the 1976 Olympics, and Lonergan, a former rugby league second-rower, have been trading blows over ratepayer money for the on-again, off-again, on-again Joseph Parker v Any Ruiz boxing fight in Auckland.

The latest round has seen Quax - an Auckland councillor these days - welcoming the prospect of sky high pay-per-view prices of between $70 and $100 as the "market price, not a price subsidised by the Auckland ratepayers".

It would be like having 12 bodies each organising its own Olympics and having 12 Olympic 100 metre champions
Dick Quax

"That's a problem?", said the pro-market and Act Party member.

Quax was hitting back after Lonergan, Duco's head promoter of the fight, let rip at the councillor questioning the financial benefits of the fight and saying he did not think many people, after the famous Rumble in the Jungle fight between Mohammad Ali and George Foreman, visited Zaire.

Promoter Dean Lonergan of Duco Events. Photo/ Doug Sherring
Promoter Dean Lonergan of Duco Events. Photo/ Doug Sherring

"Firstly, I'm astounded that he compares Auckland city to Kinshasa (capital of Zaire), which was under the rule of a dictator at the time, and secondly I'm assuming Mr Quax has never heard of that little tourist town called Las Vegas, which is without doubt one of the meccas of the tourist world on the west coast of the USA.

"Just in case he needs clarification, it's in the state of Nevada, where boxing has been a staple of their tourism policy for 25-plus years, and boxing promoters, unlike a lot of organisations, control the TV content and distribution.

"What that means Mr Quax, is that you get to insert exactly the message you want into the content-time of the programme, which is by far and away the most valuable time, broadcasting the values and messages of the chosen subject, which in this case would have been Auckland," Lonergan said.

I'm assuming Mr Quax has never heard of that little tourist town called Las Vegas, which is without doubt one of the meccas of the tourist world on the west coast of the USA.
Dean Lonergan

When news broke on Saturday that Auckland Council's events arm Ateed has withdrawn support for the fight - Ateed boss Brett O'Riley had earlier bandied about a figure of hundreds of thousands of dollars - Quax took to social media and called it a "great outcome for the ratepayers of Auckland".

"If this is as big as the Duco dudes claim the pay per view (PPV) income would make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. The Mayweather/Pacquiao made $500m from PPV rights plus tens of millions from additional sponsorship.

"It's either a major event in which case it won't need ratepayer money or it's not that great an event. My sporting contacts tell me it doesn't even come close to be a major event in the fight game.

"Which of the 12 self-appointed governing bodies of boxing actually run this sport. It's a joke. It would be like having 12 bodies each organising its own Olympics and having 12 Olympic 100 metre champions," Quax said.

"Good work on this Dick," said councillor Chris Fletcher.

Today, Lonergan declined to get fired up on Quax. He was also silent on the Parker fight, and where it will be held.

Mayor Phil Goff said "ratepayer's money should not be spent on supporting events unless a business case can demonstrate clear benefits for the city and its people.

"Ateed has said they can't accurately determine the benefits from the boxing and so will not financially support the event, and that appears to be the right call," the mayor said.

When asked if Goff or anyone in the mayor's office put pressure on Ateed to pull funding for the fight, a mayoral spokesman said: "Phil's been consistent right from the start in saying there needs to be a clear business case to fund the event."

- NZ Herald

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