Englishman Dillian Whyte has emerged as a possible next opponent for Joseph Parker as Hughie Fury's mandatory challenger position is further undermined by the postponement of his drugs hearing.
Parker indicated in a tweet on Saturday that he would soon be heading to the United Kingdom, and while it was commonly thought that his opponent would be either Fury or Tony Bellew, a fight against Whyte in September, and probably in London, is looking like a real possibility.
Whyte, a 29-year-old born in Jamaica and based in Brixton, London, has fought 21 times as a professional, his only loss coming against Anthony Joshua in an entertaining fight in 2015. During that fight, Whyte rocked Joshua with a left hook in the second round but failed to capitalise and ended up being knocked out in the seventh.
Significantly, Whyte's promoter is Eddie Hearn, a man who also promotes Joshua and Bellew, and with whom Duco's David Higgins appears to get on well.
In a recent interview with specialist boxing channel IFL TV, Hearn said he was trying to put on a Whyte v Parker fight for September. Hearn said he liked Parker for Bellew, a cruiserweight who wants to challenge for a heavyweight world title, but that Whyte might be slightly ahead in the queue.
"The right fight for Tony Bellew financially, demand-wise is David Haye," Hearn said. "But we don't know when David Haye will fight again...
"I would like him to look at that fight, but also he wants to challenge for the world heavyweight title and Joseph Parker is the most accessible and while I rate him, he is the weakest of the champions.
"On the other hand, I've got Dillian Whyte breathing down my neck saying 'let me at Joseph Parker' and I really like the Dillian Whyte v Joseph Parker fight as well - that's a fight we're trying to put on in September."
In commenting on the interview, Higgins said again that the WBO had ordered him and Fury's promoter Frank Warren to enter into negotiations for a fight to be held within 120 days of Parker's title defence against Razvan Cojanu in Manukau on May 6 - which would be in early September.
Higgins and Warren have until early June to finalise negotiations before the fight goes to purse bid once again, but that all seems unlikely given Fury, and his heavyweight cousin Tyson, have had their UK-Anti Doping hearing postponed indefinitely.
The hearing, which started last Monday, was to rule on allegations the two Furys tested positive for nandrolone in 2015. Both have denied taking the banned anabolic steroid.
But Higgins, in the midst of a carve up of his company after he and business partner Dean Lonergan agreed to part, added that he was working hard behind the scenes on potential alternatives, telling the Herald: "We are working on a very good deal for Joseph - things are tracking quite nicely and there should be more information in a week or so."
Parker has faced criticism for his flat performance against Cojanu, a fight he won by unanimous decision, but Hearn said while he backed Whyte to beat the New Zealander, it would be foolish to judge him on one bout.
"Right now everyone's jumping on the 'oh Joseph Parker is sh**, we've got to fight him [bandwagon]'," Hearn said. "He isn't, he's a big lump, he's fast, he's much better than what you saw the other night."
Hearn added: "Dillian Whyte is a handful, a handful. He beats Joseph Parker."