By Patrick McKendry in London

David Higgins has claimed a victory of sorts in getting the referee changed for Joseph Parker's WBO heavyweight title defence against Hughie Fury.

But could getting Englishman Terry O'Connor, who has officiated in Fury's last two fights, out of the ring and on to the judging panel make things worse for the New Zealander?

It's a possibility. Another Englishman, Marcus McDonnell, has been given the job of third man in the ring for Sunday's fight at the Manchester Arena thanks to the British Boxing Board of Control's late change of mind, but it hands O'Connor an equally important role - one that could yet decide the fight.


Parker wants a knockout against Fury to take the officials out of the equation and announce himself as a major force on the heavyweight scene here, but if it goes the full 12 rounds he would have every reason to be worried.

The fight contract stipulates neutral officials, but there are currently two Americans and O'Connor on the judging panel. The WBO is petitioning the powerful British Boxing Board of Control to replace an American with a New Zealander, but that is probably unlikely to happen at this late stage.

After Higgins' outburst and ejection from the press conference involving both fighters here, Robert Smith, the general security of the powerful BBBoC, told Sky Sports he would consider a change if he received "valid reasons" from Higgins.

He has clearly got them, and, significantly, Hughie's father and trainer Peter Fury asked for a change as well. "We've written to the British Boxing Board of Control, and they're looking to oblige and change things around," Peter Fury told Sky Sports. "We've requested it as well. That's all we can do."

Peter Fury's admission is another twist in a saga on which professional boxing is built. But how the BBBoC have decided on having a Brit in the ring with Parker and Fury and on the judging panel makes about as much sense as former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, a 38-year-old, wanting to join the paid ranks as a fighter, an announcement he made with a flourish in association with a betting agency this morning.

Parker had neutral officials at his last two fights in Auckland - the first his title challenge against Andy Ruiz Jr, and the second his defence against former sparring partner Razvan Cojanu.

More significantly, Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, one of the best heavyweight contests in recent memory, had neutral officials at Wembley in April, a fight squarely within the BBBoC's remit. Was that because the eyes of the world were on this fight?

One of the judges, American Don Trella, officiated on the panel of the recent Canelo Alvarez v Gennady Golovkin middleweight contest in Los Vegas, a fight which was marred by controversy when one of the judges, Adalaide Byrd, scored the fight for 118-110 in favour of Mexican Alvarez, despite Golovkin landing significantly more punches than his opponent.

The two other judges scored the fight, a draw, 115-113 and 114-114. Byrd has since been suspended from ruling on major title fights.

Higgins acknowledged the recent scoring controversies plaguing the sport, and said he hoped they would increase the scrutiny on all the officials in order for Parker to get a fair go.