Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

WBO should tread warily over Parker decision

Dean Lonergan has the express purpose of ensuring that the WBO follows its own rules and allows Parker, the No1 contender, to fight with the world title at stake. Photo / Photosport
Dean Lonergan has the express purpose of ensuring that the WBO follows its own rules and allows Parker, the No1 contender, to fight with the world title at stake. Photo / Photosport

Amidst the lobbying, wining and dining, and whatever else is scheduled to take place at the WBO's convention at San Juan, Porto Rico, starting tonight NZT, there will be a steely resolve from the promoters of Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr to ensure the organisation does the right thing and puts the vacant heavyweight title on the line for the proposed fight between the pair in Auckland in December.

Because if the WBO go down the "four-way box-off" route and add Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko to the mix, relations are likely to sour. The organisation's own rules on the matter are clear, and a decision the wrong way might even result in a potentially messy legal fight.

While Dean Lonergan from Duco Events is a relative newcomer to the boxing game, the same can't be said for Top Rank's Bob Arum, a well-regarded and extremely experienced promoter who just happens to have six fighters who hold WBO world titles.

He and Lonergan will attend the convention with the express purpose of ensuring that the WBO follows its own rules and allows Parker, the No1 contender, to fight the next ranked contender - in this case Ruiz Jr - with the world title at stake.

An announcement on a Joshua v Klitschko fight is expected any day. It's likely to be held in Manchester on December 10, the same date touted by Lonergan for the Parker v Ruiz Jr fight.

For Joshua and Klitschko, how the vacant WBO title will be decided isn't likely to be high on their agenda. There will already be Joshua's IBF title on the line (for which Parker is mandatory challenger), plus potentially the WBA title. Klitschko lost all three titles when he suffered his shock defeat to Tyson Fury in Germany in November last year.

With television rights, a suitable venue, a date, and most importantly the purse all apparently having been agreed on by the Joshua and Klitschko camps, they are unlikely to have the time or inclination to lobby for an extra belt, the WBO title, to be added to the mix.

That's why the WBO are on a hiding to nothing should they order the Parker v Ruiz Jr fight be an elimination bout rather than one for a world title. Two of the four camps are likely to be outraged (and the Parker v Ruiz Jr fight won't happen), while the other two will be focusing instead on one of the biggest heavyweight fights to be held in the United Kingdom in decades. Alternatively, if the WBO go for a Parker v Ruiz Jr title fight, Joshua and Klitschko are unlikely to care.

"One thing I will be saying is the rules are there for a reason," Lonergan told Radio Live yesterday. "You invented them, so stick with them.

"There are consequences for those who don't follow the rules."

The WBO has been warned.

- NZ Herald

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