Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Price right for Joseph Parker as balancing act continues

Joseph Parker's proposed fight in the United Kingdom will offer a unique challenge. Photo / photosport.nz
Joseph Parker's proposed fight in the United Kingdom will offer a unique challenge. Photo / photosport.nz

Should Joseph Parker get past giant Ukraine Alexander Dimitrenko in Manukau in early October, the challenge awaiting him in the United Kingdom in his next fight will be on a different scale to what he has faced so far.

Whether Parker fights Englishman David Price in Manchester in November, or Cardiff in December, the experience against a very good opponent who will be backed by a big crowd at nearly fever pitch has the potential to help shape his destiny, which he hopes includes a world title challenge against Anthony Joshua.

Heavyweight boxing is big in the United Kingdom at the moment, with Joshua the IBF champion and Tyson Fury the holder of the WBA and WBO belts. Tickets for Joshua's fights at London's 20,000-capacity O2 Arena have sold out in minutes.

It is also is a fast-changing business - both in and out of the ring. Parker's promoters won't know anything for certain until they sign a contract with Joshua's handlers for a spot on the undercard of his second title defence, but all the indications are it will happen, and against Price, a former Olympic medallist who has a good 20-3 record.

Price's defeats came at the hands of tough American southpaw Tony Thompson (both in Liverpool, by TKO, and within the space of five months), and undefeated German Erkan Teper. So he is capable. The 2.03m Price will also present another tall opponent for Parker ahead of his challenge against the 1.98m Joshua, but perhaps the most valuable education will come outside the ring.

Kubrat Pulev is a possible opponent for Joshua as the night's headline act at a venue and date yet to be announced. If confirmed, the Bulgarian, who has fought 24 times as a professional and has lost to only Wladimir Klitschko, will easily present Joshua with easily the tough fight of his career.

Incidentally, Pulev knocked out both Dimitrenko - Parker's next opponent - and Russian Alexander Ustinov, the man who finished David Tua's career, in the space of four months.

Whether the fight is in Manchester or Cardiff, the crowd will be big and loud, with a liberal sprinkling of celebrities. And it will be encouraged by the third big fight slated for the evening - English heavyweights Dereck Chisora v Dillian Whyte, two men who have made it clear they don't like each other - which is also likely to make the weigh-in interesting.

Parker's promoters Duco Events have seen how Samoan-born Australian Alex Leapai froze on the big stage in his title challenge against Klitschko in Germany two years ago, when Parker was on the undercard. They have also seen how David Tua struggled with the demands of his world title fight against against Lennox Lewis, despite being used to the bright lights of Las Vegas.

In association with Parker, his family and trainer Kevin Barry, Duco have put the 24-year-old on an accelerated learning plan throughout his four-year professional career. Fighting in the UK is the next step. There is an element of risk, but at least it will help to take the unknown out of the equation.

- NZ Herald

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