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

Duco scraps to keep Joseph Parker v Andy Ruiz Jr fight in Auckland

Joseph Parker's promoters have spent millions building him toward a title shot. Photo / photosport
Joseph Parker's promoters have spent millions building him toward a title shot. Photo / photosport

Joseph Parker's promoters say there is only a 20 per cent chance of his world title fight against Andy Ruiz Jnr being held in Auckland - but behind the scenes there remains a reasonably high level of confidence they will be able to secure the required funding through sponsorship.

Their decision to withdraw their application for government money via the Major Events route will potentially hurt their bottom line for the December 10 fight. They were asking for about $1 million, but there was no guarantee they would have received any assistance, despite their offer to Steven Joyce and his colleagues of showing the best parts of New Zealand during the bout to an international television audience which will number in the many millions.

It is a pragmatic decision. Duco Events co-owners Dean Lonergan and David Higgins have become astute in their reading of public opinion, and they knew the fallout from getting taxpayer dollars and then screening the fight on pay-per-view television would have been considerable.

"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 in his opening comments to the media yesterday.

"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 event capability."

It is understood that Parker is training alongside mentor Kevin Barry at their Las Vegas base on the assumption the fight will be held in Auckland - and the potential venues include Eden Park, Mt Smart Stadium and Vector Arena. Both Lonergan and Higgins suggested they would be prepared to make a small financial loss on the event as holding it here would give 24-year-old Parker his best possible chance of becoming the first New Zealand-born boxer to win a recognised world heavyweight title.

They are playing a long game, and the pair, who signed Parker in 2012 after the boxer missed selection for the London Olympics, who have pumped millions of dollars into getting him to this point, are used to that.

Bigger pay-days are around the corner. Should Parker beat Ruiz Jnr, he is mandated to fight popular Englishman David Haye in a fight which will raise millions of dollars in revenue. That bout would probably be held in London, as would any potential fight against Anthony Joshua for the Englishman's IBF world title. That's a fight likely to raise even more.

The upcoming bout against Mexican-American Ruiz Jnr is a potential loss-leader. Ruiz Jnr's promoter Bob Arum has offered to hold the fight in Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Dallas, but even though time is running out, Parker's supporters here shouldn't lose hope.

For Parker, it could be the last time he gets in the ring for a fight of this magnitude in New Zealand. His promoters won't be taking that lightly.

- NZ Herald

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