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

Hughie Fury's drugs hearing puts Parker fight at risk

Hughie Fury's availability for his WBO world title challenge against Kiwi Joseph Parker is in the balance. / Photo: AP
Hughie Fury's availability for his WBO world title challenge against Kiwi Joseph Parker is in the balance. / Photo: AP

Joseph Parker's promoters have contingencies in place should Hughie Fury receive a ban for allegedly failing a drugs test two years ago and be ruled out of his mandatory world heavyweight title shot against the New Zealander.

Fury, and his heavyweight cousin Tyson, allegedly failed a test for banned substance nandrolone in 2015, and Britain's Daily Mail has reported that the pair will have their long-delayed hearing in mid-April.

The news, which Parker's promoter David Higgins said he was aware of, will likely frustrate the Kiwi's camp, as, had the Furys signed their fight contract earlier, the bout for the WBO title would have been held in early April, before the hearing.

Instead, the Englishmen held off, and, unfortunately for all concerned, the fight has been put back to early May. The details will be announced next week, with Higgins saying no date had been confirmed but that he hoped the fight would be held in New Zealand.

Higgins told the Herald that should Fury be ruled out -- and he and Tyson have vehemently denied taking nandrolone, a prohibited steroid -- the 25-year-old Parker would fight someone else.

"The boxing business is about hedging and contingencies," Higgins said. "You're silly to only have one option, and certainly if anything like that happened, you'd have someone solid and credible and at least at the same or better level on standby ready to draft in.

"We can line up an alternative opponent who is at least as good as Hughie Fury. There are a lot of options, but at this point Hughie Fury is the mandatory."

The Daily Mail reported that the British Boxing Board of Control had urged the United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority to process the steroid accusations and it is believed the hearing is pencilled in for mid-April.

Despite the allegedly positive results being reported after tests in 2015, UKAD took until the British summer of 2016 to impose temporary suspensions on both men but then lifted that probation, the Mail reported.

The newspaper said there had been no word on B-sample testing and Hughie and Tyson claim they may have been the accidental victims of eating contaminated meat.

Tyson, the former WBO, WBA and IBF world champion, relinquished his belts after admitting to a cocaine habit and mental health issues.

Robert Smith, secretary-general of the Board, told the Mail: "We entrust UKAD with all our anti-doping procedures and we are very disappointed this matter has still not been resolved.

"We have frequently corresponded with UKAD, asking them to hold the hearing and very much want them to do so now, at the earliest opportunity."

Parker's alternative opponent is unlikely to be WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who defended his title with a knockout victory against Gerald Washington in Alabama at the weekend.

Wilder called out Parker afterwards but the WBC immediately installed Bermane Stiverne, the man Wilder beat to claim the title, as the mandatory challenger.

American Wilder, a tall and powerful puncher with a devastating right hand, could seek a dispensation for a unification fight against Parker, but the red tape is likely to be considerable and the negotiations are unlikely to fight Duco Events' timeframe.

Wilder, undefeated after 38 professional fights, expressed fears that he will soon kill an opponent in the ring.

After beating Washington, he said: "I'm getting more dangerous the more experience I get. I really feel that I'm going to seriously hurt someone to the point where they will end up putting a red tag on his toes. This is no joke."

- NZ Herald

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