Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: London's calling Parker

London is calling for New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker after his points victory over Carlos Takam continued an extraordinary journey, now likely to include a big-money showdown against Anthony Joshua.

The 24-year-old Parker's unanimous points victory over Takam at a Manukau's Vodafone Events Centre at fever pitch on Saturday night, which forced him to dig deeper than before in one of the most exciting elite heavyweight fights of the past few years, makes him the mandatory challenger to Joshua's IBF belt.

That fight could happen as early as November, but probably in the New Year, depending on a series of events, including Joshua's first defence of his title against American Dominic Breazeale next month, and Tyson Fury's rematch against Wladimir Klitschko.

Fury has said he will retire after the Klitschko fight in Manchester in July, on which the Englishman's WBO and WBA titles rest, but the smart money is a clash between him and Joshua in London - perhaps Wembley - in November, for which Parker might fight on the undercard, an extremely lucrative opportunity in terms of money and experience for the rising Kiwi.

Promoter Barry Hearn, the father of Joshua's promoter Eddie, has floated the idea to Parker's connections and Dean Lonergan said it was an exciting possibility.

"The answer is that it's completely do-able and we've just got to look at all of our options," Lonergan said.

"We've talked briefly about the potential of how it would work financially for both the undercard and mandatory. Now we've secured the mandatory I guess discussions will start.

"They [Joshua camp] want to fight Tyson Fury and that makes sense because of the money involved.

"We'll take on the winner of that - the unified champion - which will just make the fight bigger for us."

The combustible Fury, who enjoys sparring verbally with Joshua, was quick to send Parker his congratulations which the South Aucklander read in his dressing room after what he described as a "war" against the tough and experienced Takam.

Not everyone was impressed, including Englishman Dillian Whyte, who was knocked out by Joshua last year, but such background noise won't bother Parker, a young man who has consistently risen to every challenge during his spectacular four-year professional career.

"I back myself against any fighter that I fight in the ring with ... Joshua is the IBF champion of the world," said Parker, sweat still rolling down his face in the dressing room. "When the opportunity comes we'll take it and I feel like it's our time."

Lonergan said Parker's next fight will probably be in New Zealand before the Olympics begin in Rio in August and he could face one or two more opponents after that before facing Englishman Joshua. It will be a balancing act for Duco Events and Parker, because while it's important to carry on his momentum, his opponents must be carefully selected.

A slip-up could be costly.

"Potentially every single fight is a defence for us because if we lose, we lose that position," Lonergan said. "But we do not want to go into a fight with Anthony Joshua, or whoever the world heavyweight champion is, underdone. So we have to get decent opponents on the way through. If we put him up against walkovers what does Joseph gain out of that?

"Imagine if Joseph waited for six months. He would go into the fight underdone. I think Joe thrives on activity, he loves fighting. I'm not sure how much he likes the training camps. But why change a winning formula?"

- NZ Herald

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