Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker has signed a three-fight deal with promoter Eddie Hearn, a contract which starts with a bout against American Eric Molina in New York in four weeks and which could put him closer to a rematch with Anthony Joshua.
The new arrangement means David Higgins is no longer Parker's promoter – instead he will join the 27-year-old's management team which includes Parker's mother, Sala, plus a lawyer and accountant, among others.
Parker, a former WBO heavyweight world champion, will fight Molina in Providence, Rhode Island on June 30 (NZT) on the undercard of the WBO middleweight world title fight between Demetrius Andrade and Maciej Sulecki, bringing an end to the longest layoff of his professional career.
Molina, 37, has a 27-5 record as a professional and was stopped by Joshua in three rounds in Manchester in 2016. Parker will be hoping for a similar result.
"My six-year promotional contract with Duco Events ended on March 26," Parker said. "It was a wonderfully successful partnership – so much so that David Higgins will always be part of my team, advocating in my best interests in a management capacity.
"Since my contract with Duco ended I have been a free agent, with my team and I spending several months assessing how to best achieve my goal of not only becoming a world champion again, but unifying all of the belts to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world."
Parker's agreement with Englishman Hearn and Matchroom Boxing means he has aligned himself with one of the major players in the sport, one that should open doors to better opponents and the riches that sports television streaming service DAZN has made available. He has previously confirmed to the Herald that he and Higgins also spoke to American promoters Bob Arum and Al Hamon.
"Ultimately we decided that the best option was to partner with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing," Parker said. "We believe the three-fight deal that we are announcing today will be the start of a long and successful partnership."
Hearn has several high-profile heavyweights on his books, including Joshua, the WBA, IBF and WBO world champion who will put his belts on the line when he fights Andy Ruiz Jr in New York tomorrow, and fellow Englishman Dillian Whyte. They are the only men to have beaten Parker during his professional career.
Hearn confirmed Parker remained in the frame for a rematch against Joshua after the pair fought in Cardiff last year, a bout which ended in a convincing points win for Joshua – the first and only time he has failed to stop an opponent.
"If Joseph Parker performs the way we all know he can over these next three fights then he will have a strong case for another shot at Anthony Joshua," Hearn said.
"There's certainly unfinished business there, so this is a really exciting signing for Matchroom.
"And, I must say, I am also looking forward to sparring again with my old mate David Higgins as we haggle over the terms of each deal for Joseph. David unquestionably has Joseph's best interests at heart and he is a tough negotiator, so there are going to be some interesting discussions ahead."
Higgins said: "This is absolutely the right decision for Joseph and Team Parker, which I have supported every step of the way. I'm pleased that I can now work with Joseph's existing management team to help carefully guide the remainder of his career."
In a further development, Higgins said he had created a new company, Sports Advisory and Management Limited, with his business partner Rachael Carroll, a former international pole vaulter.
He said the company would manage a stable of athletes.