By Patrick McKendry in Manchester

Joseph Parker's upcoming fight against Hughie Fury for the WBO heavyweight world title is being played out before several backdrops, the largest of which is the charismatic and foreboding figure of one Anthony Joshua.

Joshua, the likeable WBA and IBF heavyweight champion who won gold for England at the 2012 Olympics and was part of one of the most memorable heavyweight clashes in recent memory when getting off the canvas to stop Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April, is seen in these parts as the true world champion.

Certainly, he has the highest profile of the current champions - higher than that of New Zealander Parker and American Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC version of the belt.


Joshua, 29, has won all 19 of his professional fights by knockout and his defence of his titles against Kubrat Pulev at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 28 will be highly anticipated around the world, and especially here in Britain, the so-called modern home of the heavyweight game.

In contrast, Parker's fight against Fury at the Manchester Arena on Sunday NZT has hardly been mentioned by the press here and would probably not have been mentioned at all if not for the controversial intervention and ejection from his own press conference by Parker's promoter David Higgins at the start of the week.

It's all about Joshua, and that will probably be the reality until Parker, should he beat Fury, fights him in a world title unification bout - potentially next year.

It is a reality even acknowledged by Fury's promoter Mick Hennessy in London at the start of the week, a slightly unorthodox approach by a man who should be doing everything to hype his man's challenge, when he said: "Is it the biggest fight out there in the heavyweight division? No, these are two young fighters trying to make their names and their legacies and they're about to do that on Saturday night. Is it the best heavyweight fight out there? Absolutely. This is a fight - you don't know the result of this going into this fight.

"There's lots of fake news out there about tickets and stuff... we're not expecting to sell stadiums out... these are two young fighters making their names in a heavyweight world title. We've laid it out for [a] 10,000 [capacity], we've done 5,000 and we're trying to get as close to 10,000 as we can."

Another so-called elephant in the room is the investigation into the failed drugs tests by Hughie and cousin Tyson which has reared its head again after the former heavyweight champion blasted the UK Anti-Doping organisation on social media.

Tyson wrote: "How long must I be held up and kept out of action? It's been 15 months since I've been under investigation. You're keeping an innocent man from fulfilling his destiny and providing for his family. Everybody else is dealt with in a few months - why must I be treated differently? Surely there must be a human rights law preventing this from happening to people!"

The investigation into Tyson and Hughie - both failed performance-enhancing drugs tests - threatened to overshadow Hughie's first scheduled fight against Parker in May, a bout that was cancelled due to Hughie's back injury.

The delay in resolving the investigation is due to several issues, according to a statement released by the UKAD today.

The first and final paragraphs of a largely uninteresting statement read: "In response to public comments made by Mr Tyson Fury, UK Anti-Doping wishes to clarify the status of the charges it issued against him and Mr Hughie Fury on 24 June 2016.

"All parties are currently awaiting a ruling from the National Anti-Doping Panel tribunal on an application made by the athletes to exclude certain evidence. Once that ruling is received, the matter will proceed to a hearing on the merits. UK Anti-Doping is currently pushing for dates to be fixed for that hearing to take place as soon as possible.

"It is therefore inaccurate to suggest either that UK Anti-Doping is failing to pursue these charges as quickly as possible, or that Mr Tyson Fury and Mr Hughie Fury are being treated differently to other athletes."

The Furys had previously blamed the failed tests for nandrolone on contaminated meat.