The promoters of New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker have begun negotiations for a world title fight to be hosted this summer at an outdoor arena in Auckland - possibly at Eden Park.
If Duco Events are successful, Parker's opponent will be undefeated Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Junior, a 27-year-old who goes by the nickname "the Destroyer". It would likely be held in front of a big crowd and worldwide television audience.
Duco's Dean Lonergan told the Herald the blockbuster fight could happen as early as December. "The hardest thing probably in the world to win is the heavyweight title," he said. "In the 120 years or so of its existence we've never had a New Zealander - born in New Zealand - who has won it.
"It's the holy grail of sport, so to be able to have Joseph fight for it here would be something very unique."
The possibility for Parker to challenge for sporting immortality in the city of his birth has come about due to his high ranking with the WBO organisation.
He is ranked the No1 contender behind champion Tyson Fury.
Fury is likely to be stripped of his WBO and WBA titles after cancelling his rematch against Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko for the second time due to health issues.
Fury, who is suffering from depression, has 10 days to provide medical evidence that he is unfit to fight, otherwise he will be stripped of the title immediately.
Parker, the mandatory challenger to Britain's Anthony Joshua's IBF title, has been eyeing a fight with Joshua in Manchester on November 26, but the sudden availability of Klitschko has attracted the attention of Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn.
In the fast-moving world of professional boxing, that has encouraged Lonergan to look at other avenues, and he has been encouraged by his initial contact with the Ruiz camp.
A fight against Ruiz would rule Parker out of a November bout.
However, Ruiz recently pulled out of a fight with Hughie Fury, the cousin of Tyson, due to issues with his own management.
"This Ruiz fight is an option we've started to look at because Eddie Hearn is off trying to do a deal with Klitschko and I fully understand that," Lonergan said. "When Joseph is in the position he's in; one - he's the mandatory in the IBF, two - he's the No1 with the WBO, three - Tyson Fury is going to be stripped of the WBO belt, these are a lot of opportunities for Joseph and we are 100 per cent going to explore the best opportunity."
Parker fights Alexander Dimitrenko at Manukau's Vodafone Events Centre on Saturday. A victory would open up a potential world title fight with either Joshua or Ruiz.
However, the 24-year-old Parker was warned by Dimitrenko yesterday about the perils of looking too far ahead. Dimitrenko said: "He's already looking behind me and concentrating on Anthony Joshua instead of me. There could be a bad joke if he doesn't concentrate on [our] fight and continues to look forward."
Parker and trainer Kevin Barry said they were fully focused on only one opponent, saying it was time for a compelling performance.
There is a feeling within the Parker camp that his last truly great fight was his stunning knockout of Brazilian Irineu Beato Costa Junior in Hamilton on December 6, 2014.
Since then, Parker has had eight fights, with seven knockouts.
"Since the Costa fight, I haven't really had the spark ... There are a few things that we have seen in this camp which suggest the spark is coming back," he said.
Barry said: "I'd like to think that Joe can get in there and do what he's showing me in the gym and eventually break this guy down."
Joseph Parker's route to a world championship
•There are four world boxing championship organisations - the WBA, WBF, IBF and WBO
•Joseph Parker was previously chasing the IBF belt held by Anthony Joshua
•But Joshua's promoters have bumped him down their list for a November fight because they want to take on Vladimir Klitchko instead
•Duco Events are now eyeing the WBO belt as the holder Tyson Fury is set to be stripped of it
•Parker and American Mexican Andy Ruiz are the highest ranked available contenders to fight for the WBO belt
•That fight could happen this summer in Auckland
• Joseph Parker, the IBF mandatory challenger, is still in negotiations to fight champion Anthony Joshua in Manchester on November 26.
• Tyson Fury's withdrawal from Wladimir Klitschko rematch has led to probability he will be stripped of WBO and WBA titles.
• Joshua camp now keen on Klitschko fight for November.
• As a result, Parker camp looking at hosting world title fight against Andy Ruiz for one of Fury's titles - the WBO. Fight would be held this summer at big stadium in Auckland - possibly Eden Park.
• Bob Fitzsimmons is New Zealand's only widely-recognised world heavyweight champion (1897-1899), but was born in England.
Boxing alphabet soup