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

Joseph Parker's handlers eyeing USA link

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

Joseph Parker's promoters are in negotiations with Bob Arum, Andy Ruiz Jr's handler, regarding a partnership which they feel will benefit all parties and mitigate against the risk of their Kiwi heavyweight being poached by a rival.

It is an alignment which Duco Events will seek regardless of whether Parker wins or loses his world heavyweight title fight against Ruiz Jr at Auckland's Vector Arena on December 10.

Arum, who has been in the business since promoting Muhammad Ali's fight against George Chuvalo in Toronto in 1966, is a well-connected promoter who Duco Events see as the man who could take 24-year-old Parker to the lucrative United States market and beyond. Arum has more than 30 fighters on his books, the most high-profile of which is world champion welterweight Manny Pacquiao, the Philippines senator.

Arum has suggested he would like to be involved with Parker, and Duco's David Higgins confirmed to the Herald today that there have been talks.

"We've been very impressed with Bob," Higgins said. "He is a Harvard educated lawyer, a sharp man who doesn't necessarily need the money; he has connections and clout."

Parker is just over halfway through a six-year contract with Duco, which trainer Kevin Barry has described as "generous". It is understood that all of Parker's expenses at his Las Vegas base are provided for, that he gets performance bonuses, and that he gets to keep his fight purses rather than having to share them with his camp.

"When I first looked at that contract I said to Joe, 'there are not too many fighters in the world with a contract like this'," Barry told Fairfax media.

Parker is also close friends with Higgins, and there is little to suggest he would look elsewhere given his loyalty, but Higgins said an alignment with Arum would help ease the risk of the South Aucklander going elsewhere.

Barry said a partnership with Arum would make sense. "Obviously if we get the right result on December 10, it's fair to say we'll either be fighting in the UK or the US, so it's going to be important to align with one of the main players," he said.

"Bob Arum has 16 world champions on his roster. Bob Arum is the man, there's no doubt about it. He's a very, very clever boxing promoter, the man is passionate. Why wouldn't you want to be with someone like that?"

Barry, meanwhile, has quickly called undefeated Ruiz Jr the favourite to beat Parker, adding as a caveat that all the pressure is on the Mexican.

And, perhaps significantly, he told the Herald that Parker's camp had been satisfactory but not his best.

"When I first looked at that contract I said to Joe, 'there are not too many fighters in the world with a contract like this'," Barry told Fairfax media.

Parker is also close friends with Higgins, and there is little to suggest he would look elsewhere given his loyalty, but Higgins said an alignment with Arum would help ease the risk of the South Aucklander going elsewhere.

Barry said a partnership with Arum would make sense. "Obviously if we get the right result on December 10, it's fair to say we'll either be fighting in the UK or the US, so it's going to be important to align with one of the main players," he told Fairfax.

"Bob Arum has 16 world champions on his roster. Bob Arum is the man, there's no doubt about it. He's a very, very clever boxing promoter, the man is passionate. Why wouldn't you want to be with someone like that?"

Barry, meanwhile, has quickly called undefeated Ruiz Jr the favourite to beat Parker, adding as a caveat that all the pressure is on the Mexican.

And, perhaps significantly, he told the Herald that Parker's camp had been satisfactory but not his best.

"When you have a fight like this - a world heavyweight title fight - you want to say you've have the best ever training camp. We haven't," Barry said.

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know, because we arrived on Friday, we did 20 rounds [pad and bag work] in the gym on Saturday, and Joe gave me some of the best work that I've had in the last seven weeks. It made my whole weekend, actually. We are peaking at the right time."

Part of the issue might be going from fighting a big man in Alexander Dimitrenko, whom Parker soundly beat in October and looked as impressive as he ever has, to preparing for a smaller opponent in Ruiz.

"We've gone from sparring bigger guys to a whole new game plan against a six-foot Andy Ruiz, who is going to put his head down and come forward."

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