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

Duco's Higgins - we don't want to be pariahs

Joseph Parker's promoters, frustrated with the messages coming from the government regarding assistance in funding the Kiwi heavyweight's title fight in December, have withdrawn their application.

Duco Events' David Higgins gave a thinly veiled swipe at MP Steven Joyce, and added that the company were in danger of become "pariahs" had they continued.

"We have studied the reaction of the public and the media and the politicians and it's clear it has become political dynamite, a real political football," Higgins said.

"We're aware our business does rely on goodwill, we're selling tickets, we're selling pay per view television, we rely on the public and that goodwill is important, we do not take it for granted.

"It's a shame to see it's become divisive. We think this event, if it does happen in New Zealand, should be inclusive and certainly not divisive. It should be celebrating a landmark New Zealand sporting achievement and also New Zealand's even capability."

Duco Events wanted to enter into a relationship where they would show content advertising the possibilities New Zealand had to offer the millions of viewers around the world watching the fight against Andy Ruiz Jr on December 10.

Instead, they have decided to cut their losses and go it alone, with the negative comments about the pay per view aspect of the broadcast in particular touching a nerve. Their decision means there is only a 20 per cent chance the fight will be held in New Zealand, Higgins and business partner Dean Lonergan said.

Higgins said: "Just looking at all the comments, there were a lot of haters and we're not prepared to become pariahs in our own country just for the sake of getting some government funding.

"We would still have had to charge for pay per view TV. As soon as we charged for TV there would be a large section of New Zealand society that would have us for breakfast."

The pair said they were committed to finding a way to hold it in New Zealand - and almost definitely Auckland - in order to give 24-year-old Parker his best possible chance of winning.

Higgins said Parker was taking the fluid nature of the build up to the fight in his stride at his Las Vegas base, but had a swipe at Joyce, when he said: "A couple of statements that Steven Joyce made were a little bit silly, with respect. He put out there that 'if we gave you money, x-amount', in return they'd want profile, visitation, investment opportunities, hospitality, it would go in the contract, we'd have to deliver all that. So they've give us some money, we'd deliver all of that, and then he suggested we'd give the money back - effectively a partnership with us to sponsor it for free. It was not us being the freeloaders - to me that's freeloading; reap the benefit of the event but then get the money back. Dean and I just got frustrated in the end."

Duco will instead go over their business model again and try to increase their efforts to gather sponsorship money.

Lonergan said he hoped to make a decision on whether the fight would be held in Auckland or the United States - with Las Angeles, Las Vegas, and Dallas all possible alternative venues, by the end of next week.

- NZ Herald

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