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

Auckland or England? Decision looms on Joseph Parker fight venue

WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. Photo / Photosport
WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. Photo / Photosport

Joseph Parker's handlers are on a "knife edge" over their decision as to where to hold their Kiwi heavyweight's world title defence against Hughie Fury

They hope to make a final decision this week and claim England is still very much an option.

A fight in England - and probably Manchester - would be in enemy territory for Parker, who was thankful he fought on home soil following his mandatory decision victory to claim the vacant WBO title belt against Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr at Auckland's Vector Arena in November.

But for his promoters Duco Events there are clear advantages. The bidding for the prime-time television rights in the United Kingdom is likely to be strong and would help mitigate the financial risk after they successfully beat out Fury's promoter Frank Warren with a $NZ4,100,000 purse bid offer.

And, should Parker beat the undefeated Fury, as most would expect, the 25-year-old south Aucklander's profile in the UK would sky-rocket ahead of a possible showdown with Anthony Joshua later in the year.

A working date for Parker v Fury is April 1, but that could change if the bout is held in the UK.

Duco's David Higgins told the Herald on Sunday today that while he and Parker appreciated the sentiments of WBC world champion Deontay Wilder, an American who said recently he was targeting Parker's WBO title as he begins his attempt to unify the division, Englishman Joshua loomed larger in Parker's sights.

"Beating Hughie Fury will raise Joseph's status in the UK quite markedly and it would probably make more sense to target Joshua next rather than Wilder," Higgins said.

"The UK is such a big heavyweight market at the moment, with Joshua, David Haye and Tyson Fury... so that is the direction we would probably go in.

"We could look to fight Wilder at the end of the year or early next year."

Joshua, the IBF world title holder, will fight former champion Wladimir Klitschko in front of a crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium on April 29.

Parker, who enjoyed a break in Samoa and New Zealand after his win over Ruiz Jr, said before he left that he would be comfortable fighting Fury in England.

"I have fought in America twice, Germany, Samoa, it doesn't matter where the fight is I'll be comfortable fighting anywhere," he said.

"This could be the perfect lead up to those bigger fights."

Wilder, who fights Gerald Washington in Alabama on February 25, predicted a win for Parker over Fury, telling Ring TV: "I want Joseph Parker. This is how I want things to go and this is what my team has in mind as well - 2017 is all about unifications.

"I'm not looking past Gerald Washington. But I look through it. I'm window shopping. After Gerald Washington, we're going after the winner of Hughie Fury and Joseph Parker, which I'm predicting Joseph Parker to win. So, I'm going after Joseph Parker for the WBO title."

- NZ Herald

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