Joseph Parker's promoter David Higgins became near notorious the last time he was in the United Kingdom when disrupting his fighter's own press conference before the Hughie Fury fight.

But what Higgins has described as a "ruckus" his late, tipsy, entrance alongside a similarly wobbly Frans Botha to complain loud and long about the referee appointed for that fight in Manchester in September last year paid off then and he believes it is still paying off.

The Parker camp are delighted with the referee for their heavyweight's world title unification fight against Anthony Joshua in Cardiff on April 1 NZT. Italian Giuseppe Quartarone will be the third man in the ring, with New Zealander Ian Scott on the judging panel alongside a Brit and an American.

Terry O'Connor was the original referee scheduled for Parker's fight against Fury in Manchester last year before the Englishman was moved to the judging panel, and Higgins' protest, while less than elegant, was evidence the New Zealand camp wouldn't be pushed around despite being in enemy territory.


"I think we might have earned some respect up there and are [now] perhaps taken a bit more seriously for not taking it lying down," Higgins told the Herald.

"This time around Eddie Hearn and I had a meeting of minds very early on pre-contract. We were clear we wanted a minimum of a balanced panel. We jointly approached the British Boxing Board of Control and we're grateful to them because they've selected a balanced panel."

Quartarone, described as "competent" by Parker's matchmaker Stu Duncan, has controlled 91 fights, all in Europe, and several world title bouts, but this will be his biggest.

Scott, from Wellington, has judged 120 professional fights, including several of Parker's victories, the latest of which was his win over Carlos Takam in 2016, a unanimous points decision.

Parker has 18 knockouts in his 24 professional victories, while Englishman Joshua, who has won all of his 20 professional fights by stoppage, has never gone the distance.

Higgins added before leaving to join Parker in London: "All Joseph has to worry about is his training on the home straight and winning the fight and he's very good at compartmentalising. That's all he's concerned about and he trusts people around him to take care of the details."

Parker and trainer Kevin Barry arrived in London on Sunday and wasted no time getting into training after their flight from Las Vegas. That night they attended a boxing event in east London where Parker impressed many with his trim condition.

"We're feeling good," Higgins said. "I spoke to Eddie Hearn last night and he said 'gee, your man looks good and sharp, he's lost a bit of weight'.

"We discussed how some in England seem to be writing Joseph off but their side are clear that they know they're in a fight. They know we're here to win.

"Last time it was a very testing promotion, but do you know what, we got through it, we didn't take the referee thing lying down, Joseph won the fight, and the money is in the bank, so we're learning to manoeuvre through those situations.

"This time I'm happy to say it's a case of the opposite – promotionally it's been plain sailing.

"It's exciting times – it's the calm before the storm."