Auckland ratepayers could throw hundreds of thousands of dollars towards Joseph Parker's heavyweight title fight, which will take place in the city on December 10.
The boss of the council's events arm, Brett O'Riley, yesterday confirmed Ateed "continues to be a part of discussions around this opportunity".
In a statement he said Ateed was "not providing financial sponsorship directly to the fight" but continued to "look for opportunities to market and leverage Auckland on an international stage through world-class events like this".
He did not say what form any financial assistance would take or whether it was in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"We will look at opportunities to market Auckland to an international audience, but what form this takes won't be determined until the fight is confirmed to take place in Auckland."
When Parker's title fight against Mexican Andy Ruiz was first mooted for Auckland, O'Riley said Ateed "definitely intend to be a major partner" and contribute "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in cash and services.
"It will be one of the most highest profile events that Auckland has ever hosted," he said at the time.
O'Riley, who with other council executives and elected representatives could end up ringside as part of any deal, would not say if his council-controlled organisation has given a verbal or written commitment of funding to Duco.
Did anyone go to Zaire following the rumble in the jungle between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. I don't think so
Ratepayers, on the other hand, could pay $50 or more for pay-per-view television packages based on the $49.99 packages being sold for the Joseph Parker-Carlos Takam fight.
Parker's promoters have been keen to keep their plans under wraps, but Ruiz's promoter Bob Arum let it slip in Las Vegas yesterday morning when he told the media that a press conference in the city on Saturday featuring the two fighters will confirm Auckland as the venue. The fight is set down for December 10.
Duco's Dean Lonergan said: "We neither confirm nor deny. It's a work in progress."
On Friday, Parker's promoters Duco pulled their bid for Government funding for the fight.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Labour's sports spokesman Trevor Mallard had questioned if the fight would qualify for the taxpayer-funded major events development fund.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is happy to commit ratepayers' money to the fight, subject to Ateed preparing a business case showing a return to Aucklanders.
Goff was in the ring at Manukau's Vodafone Events Centre announcing Parker's last fight against Alexander Dimitrenko on October 1. Goff, who was campaigning for the mayoralty at the time, said he was a guest of Vodafone, not Duco.
Goff said not everyone liked boxing, "but I think there is value in the sport".
On the hustings, Goff promised to drive savings across council and restore public confidence in management of ratepayer money.
Possible ratepayer funding for the fight comes as the council is making "significant cuts" to the $65 million library budget and laying off more 50 library staff.
Orakei councillor and finance committee deputy chair Desley Simpson said the council had to get involved in international events with huge media coverage.
But there would have to be a powerful business case to commit ratepayers' money to the fight and the decision had to be made by elected members, she said.
Manukau councillor Efeso Collins supported ratepayer funding if it came from Ateed's events and promotion budgets, but Howick councillor Dick Quax opposed "throwing public money at a private event" and questioned if it is a "proper title fight".
"Did anyone go to Zaire following the rumble in the jungle between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. I don't think so," said Quax in a reference to the perceived benefits for Auckland.
Act leader and Epsom MP David Seymour said it was "absolutely inappropriate" for ratepayers to sponsor a boxing match.
He said the Government had "narrowly escaped getting sucker-punched by Duco Events," and should scrap the major events fund altogether.
Seymour said Aucklanders were concerned about the proliferation of activity, lack of focus and elected members playing second fiddle to the council-controlled organisations (CCOs).
"This a great opportunity to put Ateed back in their box," he said. "They are seriously going to fund something that central government avoided funding."