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

Boxing: Joseph Parker confirms home defence against Hughie Fury

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker celebrates his win over Andy Ruiz Jr for the WBO World Heavyweight Title. Photo/Photosport
New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker celebrates his win over Andy Ruiz Jr for the WBO World Heavyweight Title. Photo/Photosport

Hughie Fury and his supporters, including his father, Peter, and cousin, the former world heavyweight champion Tyson, aim to spend up to a month in Auckland before the mandatory challenge against Joseph Parker at Vector Arena on May 6.

Should all get here ahead of Hughie's shot at Kiwi Parker's WBO world title, then the New Zealand public and media could be in for an interesting time.

Tyson, who famously beat Wladimir Klitschko in Germany in late 2015, an upset which echoed around the sporting world, is occasionally an outrageous character in person and on social media. There is unlikely to be a dull moment.

He has also had mental health issues and a self-confessed cocaine habit, both of which forced him to give up his four world titles, including the WBO belt now owned by 25-year-old Parker.

He has also announced that he wants to return in the ring, and would likely spar against his cousin as part of both boxers' preparations should he come to New Zealand, but he's also in the habit of changing his mind.

It all adds to the intrigue of what will be a highly-anticipated clash between two unbeaten professionals.

Also up in the air is the immigration status of Peter, Hughie's father and trainer and a key part of Hughie's support crew.

A serious conviction for drugs many years ago, for which Peter went to jail, could yet prevent him from getting immigration clearance, and in finally announcing the fight details today after winning the purse bid early last month, Parker's promoter David Higgins said he would support Peter's entry.

"I've had a look at it and it was some time ago - decades ago," Higgins said. "There was nothing that was in my view heinous. Yes, there were some criminal convictions for sure but I think since then... he seems to have devoted himself to training heavyweight champion boxers, and so I'm relaxed about it."

Higgins wouldn't be drawn on whether he was officially supporting Peter Fury's immigration application. "That's an issue for their camp that they're working through. It's not for us to comment."

Now that the details have been confirmed, Duco Events can go about promoting an event which will cost far more - by seven figures - than Parker's world title challenge against Andy Ruiz Jr at the same event late last year.

Several hurdles have been scaled, but more remain. A major one is that the negotiations with Fury's promoter Frank Warren, have finally been concluded, and Parker's trainer Kevin Barry today made a note of the Englishman's "stalling".

And a potential hearing into performance-enhancing drugs use by both Hughie and Tyson - the pair maintain their innocence - will not be held before the fight. Higgins also confirmed Hughie and Parker had agreed to abide by Wada's drug testing regulations for the fight.

Funding remains an issue, however. Higgins said Auckland's funding arm Ateed was not approached because he was told it would be pointless, but he was hopeful central government could come to the party for a fight which will make a big noise in the United Kingdom where the heavyweight scene is enjoying a huge upsurge in popularity.

Should the New Zealand government not commit, then Samoa, who supported Parker's win against Ruiz, will again be approached.
Parker's trainer Barry said his man returned to Las Vegas five weeks ago fit and refreshed and would next week begin sparring for the remaining eight weeks of the camp.

Barry added: "The most exciting thing for us is that after this long, stalling, drawn-out process by Fury's promoter, finally we can announce a date and start focusing on having Joe and Fury in the ring on May 6."

- NZ Herald

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