New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker's next opponent is close to being announced, with American Shawndell Winters the most likely candidate.
Winters, a 39-year-old from Illinois, is ranked as the 15th best heavyweight in the USA by respected website Boxrec. He has a 13-2 professional record but hasn't fought any household names and, should he be announced as Parker's opponent for the February 29 fight in Dallas, Texas, the Kiwi will be expected to win with a decisive finish.
Parker's manager David Higgins said this morning talks with several opponents were still ongoing and couldn't confirm Winters as the one.
"There are a range of names under discussion," Higgins told the Herald.
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"Nothing has been signed yet or agreed but it's something that's very close. I'd expect it to be announced in the next few days."
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It will be Parker's first fight since his stoppage victory against Alex Leapai in June last year in Providence, New York. The fight, Parker's only assignment last year, was the first of a three-fight deal with new promoter Eddie Hearn as he attempts to climb his way back into world title contention.
The former WBO world champion is ranked No 2 by the organisation – behind current champion Anthony Joshua, to whom he lost in Cardiff in 2018, and the No 1-ranked Oleksandr Usyk.
Should Brit Joshua vacate his WBO title in order to defend his IBF belt against Kubrat Pulev – a strong possibility – then Parker could face off against former cruiserweight world champion Usyk for the title he won against Andy Ruiz Jr in Auckland in 2016.
Parker's loss to Joshua was the first of his professional career and was followed four months later by a defeat to Dillian Whyte. Since then the 28-year-old knocked out Alexander Flores in Christchurch before his 10th-round technical knockout win over Leapai.