Joseph Parker is in danger of losing home advantage for his world heavyweight title fight, with promoter Dean Lonergan saying it is "70-80 per cent" likely to be held in the United States rather than Auckland.
The Kiwi supporters of South Aucklander Parker will be disappointed if the WBO bout against Andy Ruiz Jr isn't held in his backyard - with Eden Park, Mt Smart Stadium and Vector Arena all possible venues - but the tight lead-in to the December 10 fight, and the ability of Ruiz Jr's promoter Bob Arum to put on a massive event at the AT & T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, could force the hands of Lonergan and business parter David Higgins.
Duco Events, in constant dialogue with the Las Vegas-based Arum, have less than a fortnight to secure seven-figure sponsorship deals, for the fight, which would be the first significant world title fight held in New Zealand. If Parker were to be successful, he would be the first New Zealand-born heavyweight to win the title in the more than 120 years of the division's existence.
"In a perfect world it would be in New Zealand but at the moment I just can't see it because the share magnitude of what we have to do in such a short space of time, and particularly around sponsorship is difficult," Lonergan told Radio Sport's the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast show this morning.
It echoed similar comments Lonergan made to the Herald yesterday.
"The biggest problem we've got is putting together sponsorship in a very short space of time," Lonergan said. "We've got some fantastic sponsors already, but we are looking for other commercial deals as well.
"Despite some errant reporting in the media, we aren't looking for taxpayer funding, we are looking to put together commercial deals with long-term partners."
Duco Events own the television rights to the fight and an international audience will number in the many millions.
"People in the United Stades, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, India, China and Germany, to name only a few, will be watching this telecast and we have the option of showcasing New Zealand's tourism potential, including Queenstown, Rotorua and Waiheke Island - the jewel of the Hauraki Gulf. We own the broadcast so can show those pictures whenever we want," Lonergan said.
Labour's sport spokesman Trevor Mallard has questioned the need for Government assistance, but Lonergan said Mallard hadn't done any research into what Duco Events were offering.
Arum, who is friends with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, has agreed Parker's camp have first option to hold the fight in the city of their fighter's birth, but the experienced promoter could make a compelling case for holding it in Texas. Ruiz Jr is a Mexican based in California.
"Bob thinks there's a very large Hispanic audience who would like to see their first Mexican world heavyweight champion," Lonergan said. "Bob also has many world champions on his books, some of them Hispanics. The main event would be Parker v Ruiz and he could organise an undercard which would also appeal to a Hispanic crowd and audience."
Lonergan said the ability to give Parker what could be crucial home advantage was driving Duco Events, as was the chance to make New Zealand history. But if the numbers don't add up, his company would have little choice but to hold the fight in Texas.