Junior Fa's team have formally accused Joseph Parker's manager David Higgins of being in breach of contract ahead of the heavyweight boxing fight between the pair in Auckland on December 11 due to a failure to initiate drugs testing.
Last Sunday, a letter written by an attorney for Fa's New York-based promoter Lou DiBella warned Higgins, a co-promoter of Stonewood Homes Parker v Fa at Spark Arena alongside Matchroom Boxing and DiBella Entertainment, that DiBella was entitled to immediately terminate the agreement- signed 13 days earlier - if a response wasn't forthcoming.
Fortunately for fans hoping to witness what will easily be the biggest boxing event in New Zealand since Parker won the WBO world heavyweight title at the same venue four years ago, Higgins replied within the period required and has assured DiBella that the start of the testing regime is imminent.
But DiBella, who also claims he was never consulted about the unique pay per view price structure for the fight, told the Herald he was extremely disappointed with the delay and warned: "We've got to have smoother sailing moving forward.
"It was part of the contract and the fact that we hadn't heard anything for two weeks was very upsetting for us. I can confirm that we just got verification that it's finally starting.
"I'm not accusing anybody of anything, but we want a clean sport and fighting without an unfair advantage is very important to team Fa."
DiBella added that time is of the essence as far as drugs testing is concerned, a point his attorney also stressed.
In an interview with the Herald, Higgins blamed the delay on "paperwork", adding: "Lou is right, technically the contract called for drugs testing to start straight away [but] the process of getting it up and running took longer than we had hoped."
The drug testing protocol for this fight is different in that it will be handled by Drug Free Sport New Zealand and the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), as opposed to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (Vada). That will also ensure any potential disputes from the fight are heard by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand. That unfamiliarity, said Higgins, had caused the delay.
"Both camps submitted to random drugs testing," Higgins said. "We apologise for the delay. In true American style there are hints of him trying to leverage it, of course."
Higgins added, with tongue in cheek: "As much as Lou dislikes Donald Trump, in certain areas he is perhaps more similar to Trump than he would care to admit.
"I suppose we're more used to dealing with the British who are a little more gentlemanly, but the Americans are a different breed.
"We got there in the end."
Asked how DiBella was attempting to "leverage" the testing delay, Higgins replied: "It's all about the money – but as far as the drugs testing paperwork is concerned, it was an innocent transgression."
Higgins defended the pay per view pricing structure of the fight but was conciliatory towards DiBella on this point.
The fight, which will be broadcast by Spark Sport, is priced on a "tiered" model from $39.99 - available until next Monday - and $49.99 after that.
DiBella said that structure was not in the original agreement and that his side of the promotion could be disadvantaged as a result.
Higgins acknowledged that due to the pricing structure there may be fewer buys closer to the fight – traditionally the vast majority of viewers buy the pay per view on the day of the fight – but that there would probably be more revenue.
He called it "supply and demand, simple economics", but added: "We're happy to talk to Lou about that. We're fair-minded people – we're not trying to disadvantage anyone."
DiBella, who said he was unlikely to attend the bout due to the political uncertainty in the United States and the need to quarantine in New Zealand, added: "We're not going to bail on the fight.
"It's a great event and we want it to happen – we want New Zealand to get the mega fight the country deserves and we want Junior to get his opportunity."