Heavyweight Junior Fa has moved to No 10 on the World Boxing Organisation's rankings, a rise which could put him within a couple of fights of a challenge against Anthony Joshua.
Fa's progress has been helped by his possession of the WBO oriental heavyweight title which he won against Mexican Luis Pascal in Auckland in June. And it comes in spite of his disappointing performance in that unanimous decision win and the underlying health issues which his camp say contributed to it.
Fa's body wasn't producing enough red blood cells and as a result he was tiring quickly – certainly his workrate against Pascal was poor and it was too in his previous fight against American Craig Lewis in the United States in March – but that has been resolved and he is looking forward to putting in a vastly improved performance in his next fight.
The 29-year-old, who has a 15-0 record as a professional, will fight on Joseph Parker's undercard in Christchurch on December 15. Fa's opponent has been confirmed as Argentine Rogelio Omar Rossi, a 36-year-old with a 20-6 record.
Omar Rossi, a southpaw, fought for a cruiserweight world title in 2011 (a knockout defeat) before moving up to heavyweight in 2016. Since then he has won three and lost two (both by KO) and Fa will be disappointed if he doesn't blast him out within the scheduled eight rounds at Horncastle Arena.
However, before his next bout, he'll head into training camp with current WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder ahead of his December 1 title defence against Tyson Fury.
If and when Fa wins in his bout against Omar Rossi, he could be in line for an elimination match against a fellow fighter in the WBO top-10 for the right to face Joshua, the biggest name in boxing, and an opponent who could set up the south Aucklander for life, financially.
Joshua is of course the man who relieved Kiwi Parker of his WBO world heavyweight title and if the stars align there will be a fascination here and abroad as to whether Fa can do what his countryman and rival couldn't.
Parker boxed well against Joshua in Cardiff but lost by unanimous decision and again against Dillian Whyte by the same result in London in July. However, there must be recognition that an elimination fight by itself would be a huge step up for Fa considering it could be against someone like Whyte, ranked No. 2 below Joshua by the WBO, or American Jarrell Miller, ranked No. 4.
Parker is no longer ranked in the top 15 by the WBO but is ranked No. 5 by the WBC, whose champion Deontay Wilder, will face Tyson Fury in Los Angeles on December 1.
"We're getting close to getting an elimination fight which would allow us to fight AJ [if successful]," Fa's manager Mark Keddell told the Herald.
"Junior is only in his third year as a professional, so his progress has come much faster than we anticipated. We know his last great performance was against Fred Latham in Cleveland [in November, 2017] but we recognise why he hasn't performed as he would have liked in his last two fights.
"Junior over the last six months has matured massively as an athlete."