Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Duco going after sponsors for world title fight in NZ

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker during a training session at The Wreck Room in Auckland. Photo / www.photosport.nz
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker during a training session at The Wreck Room in Auckland. Photo / www.photosport.nz

Joseph Parker's handlers, confident a deal will be made with Andy Ruiz Jr for a world boxing title fight in Auckland sanctioned by the WBO, are now reaching out to potential sponsors to help pay for it.

They believe they are close to agreeing terms with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum following a fruitful meeting in Los Angeles yesterday. They were last night scheduled to travel to the WBO convention in Puerto Rico confident the probability of the Wladimir Klitschko v Anthony Joshua clash in Manchester being called off. That will strengthen their case that the Parker v Ruiz Jr bout in December should be for the WBO heavyweight title.

Which leaves money. Promoter Dean Lonergan said Duco Events would need a "seven-figure sum" in order to make the fight happen and create what he described as "New Zealand sporting history".

"In the more than 120 years of the heavyweight division fighting under the Queensberry rules, the title has never been fought for on New Zealand soil," he said.

"This will be an epic occasion and we would like to chat with people who want to be part of it and what we hope will be a long reign by Joseph as champion."

Several things are likely to fall in Duco's favour, not least the marketability of the 24-year-old Kiwi Parker, undefeated over 21 professional fights and the mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua's IBF title, and the fact a world title fight broadcast from a stadium such as Eden Park or Vector Arena would reach a worldwide television audience of millions.

Parker's recent knockout of Alexander Dimitrenko in Manukau - the 18th of his career - suggests he is ready to go to the next level, and the similarly undefeated Ruiz Jr would provide that test.

Lonergan said the fight would be broadcast by international company CSI Sports to potentially 80 million households in the United States - where Ruiz Jr is based. In China alone the fight would be broadcast to 400 million households, he said.

Arum, in the fight game for 50 years, will also help with the distribution. "The only recent events to rival this broadcast would the Rugby World Cup held here in 2011, or the America's Cup," Lonergan said. "And the beauty is we own the content and the television rights - if we choose to give a sponsor exposure during the night we can do so whenever we want."

Klitschko's decision to put his proposed fight against Joshua in doubt due to a sanctioning issue has thrown the heavyweight division back into confusion just as it seemed it was settling after Tyson Fury stepped away from the WBO and WBA titles.

Klitschko now appears to be favouring what could be considered an easier route back into the ring after a year of inactivity by lining up Australian Lucas Browne, a decision criticised by Lonergan as "soft".

A potential Parker v Joshua fight remains a possibility in the short term but far more likely is a title fight against Ruiz Jr.

Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn appears set to look for alternatives such as Kubrat Pulev, while Lonergan looks at ways to pay for what will be the most expensive and most watched boxing event held in New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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