The gloves are off in negotiations between the Parker and Fa camps ahead of the proposed blockbuster all-Kiwi heavyweight fight – gloves being the inoperative word.
While money makes the boxing world go around, it turns out that the far less consequential stuff is creating an impasse between the two fighters; an impasse that has seen them miss any chance of an October window and is making things increasingly tight for the desired pre-Christmas time slot.
Fa's manager Mark Keddell recently revealed to the Herald that drug-testing procedure was the biggest sticking point and today David Higgins pointed to that and two other wrinkles that need ironing out.
"Gloves," he said, "I can see trouble there."
What usually happens is both camps submit their preferred gloves – usually a globally recognised brand – and the gloves will arrived sealed to the pre-fight rules meeting, then opened and inspected by an independent agreed authority, as well as each camp.
"I'm not sure if it's because of [Fa trainer] Eugene Bareman's UFC background but they want to do things differently. Trainers tend to be conspiracy theorists," Higgins said.
In the UFC, the organisation provides each fighter with generic gloves.
"They want a third party to choose the gloves. Their preferred way of doing it veers away from international practice and it's also preposterous.
"It'd be like an opening batsman who has used Gunn and Moore bats all his life being told before the deciding Ashes test that he now had to use a Gray-Nicolls."
Higgins said they would not be telling the Fa camp what gloves they should wear and as long as they conformed to the rules, it was a level playing field.
Potentially the biggest stumbling block, however, is the choice of sanctioning body.
"We want the sanctioning body to be Boxing New Zealand because their constitution formally ties them to Drug Free Sport New Zealand and the Sports Tribunal," Keddell told the Herald.
Higgins initially thought it was a wind-up.
"It's frankly unheard of. It's an amateur boxing organisation. The New Zealand Professional Boxing Association has sanctioned every big fight here. They have the know-how," Higgins said.
"At first I thought that was a joke – but no."
Higgins said he thought the Fa camp might be digging its toes in for reasons of paranoia rather than reason. He said there was a model for how big fights were run. A pool of officials and refs were selected and both camps would have a say in the final appointments.
"If you don't like or have concerns about a certain ref or judge you have the chance to say 'no'," Higgins said.
As for the drug-testing, Higgins said both fighters had agreed to random blood and urine testing in the lead-up to the fight.
"It's just how it's administered," Higgins said. "We would like to use a Wada-sanctioned local agency and I don't mind who that is as long as it adheres to Wada guidelines and they be part of the procedural conversation."
Higgins dismissively described the Fa camp's wish to use Boxing NZ as "amateur hour".
Both fighters seem keen to make the clash happen. Parker, 28, a Samoan, and Fa, a 31-year-old Tongan, met four times in the amateur ranks, finishing with two wins apiece.
Their professional careers have taken wildly different trajectories, though both should be entering their peak years.
Parker's management took him on a fast-track to blue-chip fights, which culminated in a WBO belt in 2016, and a unification bout with Anthony Joshua that he lost.
Fa, who is now part of Lou DiBella's promotion stable, has gone the slow-burn route, amassing 19 wins from 19 fairly low-key fights.
A match-up against Parker would be the biggest fight of his career by some distance and the biggest all-New Zealand heavyweight fight since David Tua knocked out Shane Cameron in 2009.