By Patrick McKendry in London

A new referee has been agreed for Joseph Parker's WBO heavyweight world title defence against Hughie Fury, but the compromise is that Terry O'Connor, originally the third man in the ring in Manchester on Sunday, will be a judge.

It is a compromise Parker's promoter David Higgins, who created a storm when being ejected from yesterday's press conference in London because of the issue, is happy with.

The main problem Team Parker had with O'Connor is that the Brit has been the referee for Fury's last two fights. Instead the new ref will be Marcus McDonnell, another Englishman, who had been slated to be a judge.


"There's been a lot of drama around the officials for this fight," Higgins said. "Quietly behind the scenes we have been writing good letters to the organisations. Just now we have been offered a compromise by the British Board of Boxing Control ... they've said they will have Terry O'Connor act as a judge rather than a referee and have Marcus McDonnell in as referee.

"Is that ideal? Maybe not, but look, it's good. At least the referee isn't the same guy who did Hughie Fury's last two fights.

"I'd like to acknowledge the compromise which we'll accept. And to be honest, the officials are going to be under scrutiny anyway because of all the fuss."

Currently there will be two American judges and O'Connor, an Englishman. But there was still a possibility a New Zealander could replace an American on the judging panel. That was with the WBO, Higgins said.

"The most important thing is a balanced panel. If there was a Kiwi to offset the Brit that would be fine," Higgins said.

Parker's trainer Kevin Barry said: "My focus has never been the officials but I applaud the British Boxing Board for listening to David. Dave did a really good job getting the referee changed. We have not got neutral officials but we did not like the ref that we had. I believe he is now one of the judges.

"It was good work by this team to get this through. They were standing pretty steady over the last week to 10 days, saying 'these are going to be the officials, this is the referee, so lump it'. Well, we've got it changed."

Parker v Fury at Manchester Arena will be shown in New Zealand live on Sky Arena from 8am on Sunday for $39.95.