Joseph Parker's handlers are sufficiently confident of breaking even to announce Auckland's Vector Arena as the venue for the WBO heavyweight title fight against Andy Ruiz Jr on December 10, but they admit they are taking a huge risk.
The fight will cost about $4million to put on. It will easily be the most expensive fight held here in New Zealand. Parker's fight against Carlos Takam in May at Auckland's Vodafone Events Centre cost $2.2million to hold, Duco's chief executive Martin Snedden revealed today.
He said his company had moved on from the saga of recent weeks where they asked for, and then withdrew their application for, funding via a partnership with the government's Major Events arm.
And then Auckland council's funding arm Ateed dropped a bombshell by withdrawing their support last Thursday night.
"It's been a pretty rocky, volatile last few weeks," Snedden said.
"For us today its about in some ways putting a line in the sand... we've reached a point today where we can say this title fight is happening in Auckland, and let's use the next 32 days before the fight to really enjoy the build up to this.
"There's a hell of a lot to do, but we have utter confidence we can do things right," he said.
Making the risk more acute for Duco was the fact that all of their sponsorship and broadcasting contracts expired after Parker's recent fight against Alexander Dimitrenko.
Snedden said Duco had confidence local and central government would come to the party, but that "in the end it didn't happen and from our point of view that's fine".
There was "zero angst" after things had got "political", he said.
Instead, he said, their current sponsors have re-committed, and they have new ones on board. Owners David Higgins and Dean Lonergan are either already overseas or heading that way in order to secure more international broadcasting deals.
In the end, as expected, the ability to provide home advantage for 24-year-old Parker was key for Duco, said Snedden. He said there wasn't a temptation to hold it elsewhere in New Zealand, although the invitation from Bob Arum, Ruiz Jr's promoter, to hold it in the United States did genuinely hold their interest.
As a result, the TAB have made Parker a $1.30 warm favourite, with Ruiz Jr $3.30. TAB spokesman Mark Stafford said Parker normally paid in the region of $1.05 to win, but that this was a big step up. The odds would have been more in Ruiz Jr's favour had the fight been set for the United States or Mexico.
Snedden said pay per view prices had not been set. Parker's fight against Takam cost about $50.
Ticket prices for the 10,000 capacity arena would start at $99.