Joseph Parker's promoters have moved quickly to quash rumours that Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua have done a deal to fight for the WBO world title, saying the boxing organisation's's regulations clearly state the New Zealand heavyweight is the man calling the shots.
Duco Events are working on the assumption that Parker will fight for the WBO belt against Mexican Andy Ruiz Junior in Auckland on December 10, as per the rules. Parker is ranked No1 by the organisation and the regulations state he will be involved in a fight for the title once champion Tyson Fury is stripped due to his inactivity.
In line to fight Parker are No2-ranked Wladimir Klitschko and No3-ranked Ruiz Jr, but it's more likely to be the latter as the promoters of IBF champion Joshua are courting Klitschko for a fight which could be held on the same December 10 date.
Section 20c of the WBO's regulations states: "In the case that a World Championship is declared vacant, the two Best Classified Contenders Available as determined by the Championship Committee shall be granted a period not to exceed thirty (30) days to negotiate a contract for the vacant World Championship."
Duco's Dean Lonergan told the Herald yesterday that negotiations with the Ruiz Jr camp for a mega-fight in Auckland were already "95 per cent" done.
In an email to the Herald this morning, a Duco spokesman said with reference to a Klitschko and Joshua fight: "Klitschko can book any stadium he likes, but if he is fighting for the WBO title, it will be between him and Parker."
If negotiations between Klitschko and Joshua fail, which is a distinct possibility given the money and logistics involved, Parker could instead fight Klitschko for the WBO title, and probably in Germany.
Fury's chances of holding on to his WBO and WBA titles after again reneging on his rematch with Klitschko, whom he beat 11 months ago, appear non-existent.
Section 5a of the WBO's regulations states: "For reasons unique to the Heavyweight Division, the WBO World Champion in the Heavyweight Division shall defend his title at intervals not greater than twelve (12) months counting from the date of the acquisition."
The organisation also states it can act should a champion remain inactive for nine months: "The WBO World Championship Committee may, in its discretion, vacate a Champion's title (including the Heavyweight Division) regardless of cause or fault if the Champion fails to defend his title within a nine (9) month period. This decision will be final unless appealed to the Complaint and Grievance Committee within ten (10) days of Notification to the Champion as provided for in these Rules."
The rules are clear. If it's not Ruiz Jr, it will be Klitschko, and Parker showed in knocking out Alexander Dimitrenko in Manukau on Saturday that he is ready for either.
WBO Heavyweight rankings
Champion: Tyson Fury
1. Joseph Parker
2. Wladimir Klitschko
3. Andy Ruiz Jr