Joseph Parker and his team probably hoped they’d washed their hands of Hughie Fury after their initial fight fell apart but pretty soon after beating Razvan Cojanu it became clear that they hadn’t. Despite all the farcical dramas that followed those negotiations, despite the convenient way it collapsed two weeks out and the inflammable words that David Higgins had for the Fury camp following it, Hughie Fury still had a legit back injury that ruled him out. Therefore he remained the mandatory challenger and now, roughly two months after the first fight was called off, a second one has been arranged.
Joseph Parker vs Hughie Fury, for the WBO World Heavyweight Title. It’ll take place on September 23 in Manchester, England.
Parker didn’t really have a choice. Fury is the mandatory and the only way he was getting out of that was by arranging something against Anthony Joshua (still waiting to see if he and Klitschko will take up the rematch clause) or Deontay Wilder in a unification bout. And while Wilder would be super keen to throw a few jabs at JP, he’s likely even keener to get in the ring with Joshua and you can bet he’s waiting more impatiently than anyone else for that Joshua-Klitschko II decision.
By the way, it sounds like Eddie Hearn’s idea is for Wilder to pop on over to England to fight Dillian Whyte before taking on AJ afterwards. Wilder’s apparently open to fighting in the UK but it’s hugely doubtful he’s willing to do it for Dillian Whyte, to be honest. Not when he could already get Joshua or Parker under the right circumstances.
Anyway, Wilder’s supposed to have a mandatory defence against Bermane Stiverne so that’s more likely what we’ll see. From Parker’s point of view Hughie’s a much less riskier fight than Wilder and it’s been whispered that if AJvWK2 doesn’t happen then Joshua’s looking towards his IBF mandatory of Kubrat Pulev. Also, financially Parker vs Wilder simply isn’t gonna be as valuable now as it might be in 6-12 months. Mandatories for all then!
As for the Manchester thing, yeah that means Fury will be fighting in his home city. A complete flip of last time when Duco unexpectedly won the purse bid and took the bout to Auckland. It was clear that the Fury’s weren’t keen on that, they got complacent with the purse and let the fight get taken out of their comfort zone. Peter Fury had troubles even getting entry into New Zealand and Hughie, completely short on ring time, was gonna be up against it so far beyond his comfort zone. The chat was they’d give it a full month of preparation in Aotearoa but two weeks out they still weren’t even in the country and then it was announced that the fight was off, Hughie had tweaked his back.
So now they get their wish by having the fight in Manchester? Yup, it’s not exactly a karmic scenario. But Parker and Higgins (sans Lonergan these days, aye?) have pretty much exhausted the local market for now, fighting out of New Zealand again wasn’t gonna be an option. Eventually he’ll be back but right now it’s best for everyone that he packs his bags for the great voyage. A few high profile fights in the UK and USA, beat up a few bastards and defend that belt under tougher circumstances, where opponents can’t just blame a local crowd for the scorecards, and his career will be in a better place. Plus the kiwi fans could use the opportunity to see him succeed in the big wide world, it’ll only drive the hype for the next time he’s back home.
Of course, he could lose. Cop a few over the top and hit the canvas or maybe get worked around for the judges’ defeat. That could happen… but it’s time to take those risks. These next few fights could legitimise Joe Parker as a proper heavyweight contender after that title belt sorta fell in his lap thanks to other circumstances – specifically those involving the cousin of the man he’s about to scrap out.
You can tell that Parker and David Higgins were fine with fighting in England too because after the prolonged negotiations of the first time, this time they managed to come to happy terms without having to go to the purse. Parker’s fought overseas before but this’ll be the first time at the top of the cards – and his first time away from the pacific since beating Keith Thompson in 2014 to move to 10-0 as a pro. Fair to say some time has passed since then but don’t forget his training is mostly based out of Las Vegas.
Put it this way: he ain’t scared, he ain’t intimidated. He also ain’t too rusty in the ring which is more than you can say about his next slugger. After fighting five times in 2016, this’ll only be Parker’s second fight of 2017 but that’s still a lot more rounds than Hughie’s been through. Between that skin condition and the back injury he’s not taken the ring since beating Fred Kassi in sloppy circumstances in April 2016.
That’s seventeen months between Kassi and the Parker fight… no surprises then that Frank Warren is expected to book Hughie into one of his July cards before he takes on JP – something along the lines of Parker vs Cojanu to stay busy and go through the necessary motions. After so long out and considering how much that skin condition was reported to have slowed him down, we honestly don’t know what to expect from Hughie now that he’s fit again so that tuning session will be a valuable insight. You can bet that Joseph Parker and Kevin Barry will be there ringside in their due diligence.
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