Joseph Parker faces a new opponent and venue, but a sense of familiarity will pervade when he defends his World Boxing Organisation heavyweight belt on May 6.

Duco Events have confirmed Romanian Razvan Cojanu as Parker's challenger. The pair are previous sparring partners.

Cojanu replaces Brit Hughie Fury who pulled out citing a lower back injury.

The fight will be shifted from the 12,000-capacity Spark Arena in downtown Auckland, to the 3,000-capacity Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau where Parker has fought four times professionally.


Duco Events director David Higgins admitted to a stressful week sorting out the rejig.
"He [Cojanu] must be hungry because the deal was done quick.

"It could be the last time Joseph Parker fights in New Zealand. We haven't had an avalanche of refunds because they [the patrons] are Joseph Parker fans. We're grateful to them for bearing with us."

The 2.02m Cojanu meets the WBO criteria of being in their top 15 list for a mandatory challenge, ranked at 14. The 30-year-old has a 16-win, two-loss record.

"I'd like to thank Hughie Fury for pulling out," Cojanu said. "I'm not taking the fight for the money. I always said if I got a title shot [anywhere] I'd say 'yes'.

"I've come to prove I can knock Joseph Parker out. Their team is one of the most professional I have met, but I know him and his strategies from our training camps where I've only ever gone at 50, 60 or 70 per cent."

"Because we've sparred together, he's more dangerous than Fury in some ways," Parker responded. "I'm starting to wonder what he really fights like."

Parker's trainer Kevin Barry confirmed the pair had gone 44 rounds in their last camp.
"He was one of our least preferred options because he'd been in two camps over the last four years.

"We run an open programme, so when fighters are not sparring they tend to be in the gym with us. Razvan knows more about Joe than most other fighters."

Cojanu also sparred with Alex Leapai before his April 2014 title defeat to Wladimir Klitschko.

"Apparently he struggled to lay a glove on him [Cojanu] in training," Barry said.

Parker has spent 12 weeks preparing and told Barry he "needed" to fight after last entering the ring in December. Barry said he was prepared to take the risk on the back of that urgency.

Americans Dominic Breazeale and Deontay Wilder also wanted to fight Parker, although Breazealle did not want to do so on the specified date.

Wilder told Radio Sport that boxing needed to unify the heavyweight division instead of boxers being positioned for pay days.

He urged Duco to set up an immediate fight to unify Parker's WBO and his World Boxing Council belts. Wilder wanted the winner of their fight to meet the winner of this weekend's Klitschko-Anthony Joshua bout at Wembley.

Speaking from Nevada, he said: "Put your money where your mouth is, put your belt where your mouth is. I was trying to be his [Parker's] next opponent. Why would you want to fight anyone else? I'm just tired of sitting around.

"A lot of promoters and managers have got to stop being scared, everyone has got to lose some time. It's an unpredictable sport and that's what I love about it.

"I don't care where it is... here, there, on the moon. It don't matter to me. I don't care if it is one person or 100,000 people watching. It is one ring, one opponent."