Joseph Parker is eyeing up a heavyweight clash with Britain’s Joe Joyce as he seeks to return to the ring ‘as soon as humanly possible’, says manager David Higgins.
The former WBO champion turned heads in December with an impressive unanimous decision victory over Derek Chisora in Manchester to extend his win streak to six since losing to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte in 2018, the only defeats of his professional career.
Joyce is No. 1 in the WBO rankings, one place ahead of Parker, after stopping Carlos Takam in the sixth round of last July’s contest to follow up his statement knockout performance against Daniel Dubois in November 2020.
Higgins believes it has the makings to be a fight capable of ‘selling out the O2 Arena’, and has confirmed Parker is awaiting an offer.
“He fought Chisora and dominated him so his brand equity in the world and United Kingdom is at an all-time high,” Higgins told Sky Sports. “We almost feel like it’s a home crowd and he’s obviously been on a lot of big PPV shows in the UK as well.
“The question is ‘who next?’ Joseph has signaled that he’d like to fight as soon as humanly possible.A possible opponent is Joe Joyce.
“Joe Joyce is obviously ranked No 1 with the WBO and Parker is ranked No 2. We would not take him for granted, almost a 50/50 type fight which the fans would obviously love.
“The Joyce team have reached out to us and said they’re going to make written offer. Both sides have talked about May timing, so we’ll see what that offer looks like.”
Higgins adds that the only questions to be asked are ‘where?’ and ‘who promotes it?’, suggesting it is now up to Joyce’s team to put an offer on the table.
“If we do not think their offer stacks up then I’ll counter offer them more and we’ll control promoting it. Or co-promote with a third party,” he said.
Parker had been in contention to face Filip Hrgovic in an IBF eliminator fight, the winner of which would become the mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk, but was rehabilitating from an elbow injury.
On the topic of deciding a winner, Higgins believes Parker’s progress across recent bouts would give him the edge.
“I think Joseph Parker would win because I think he’s looking better fight by fight, so I think if he continues to improve he’ll make reasonable work of Joyce and put him away,” he continued.
“And obviously their side will think Joyce will win, he’s got a great chin, durable, got a big punch, he’s got a lot going for him. It’s one of those 50/50 type matchups and the winner could be mandatory for WBO. It’s a fight that should happen at some stage. “
Parker heading to America?
The New Zealander also has his sights set on establishing himself Stateside, Higgins making clear that Parker is open to fighting the best America has to offer.
Among the possible opponents would likely be former heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr, who Parker beat via majority decision back in December 2016.
“I’m in the United States at the moment and Joseph Parker has signaled he’d like to do what Tyson Fury has done and go to America and beat Americans. Not many British have done that,” Higgins added.
“Joseph has said he’ll fight any of the big names and high-ranked Americans from Deontay Wilder to Andy Ruiz to Luis Ortiz to Michael Hunter, any of them we would look at.
“It will be interesting to see if any of these big name Americans are willing to get in a ring with Joseph Parker because we certainly reached out and made it known the opportunity is there.
“My job now is to model up what the American opportunities would look like, but right now to model up what the Joe Joyce opportunity would look like, so it looks like we’ve got a few options.”
Sky Sports Boxing schedule
Saturday February 5 in Cardiff
Chris Eubank Jr. vs. Liam Williams
Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin – IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles
Saturday February 19 in Manchester
Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook
Frazer Clarke’s pro debut
Saturday February 26 in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs. Jack Catterall – undisputed super-lightweight titles
Nick Campbell vs Jay McFarlane – Scottish heavyweight title
Saturday March 5 in Fresno
Jose Ramirez vs Jose Pedraza
Sunday March 20 in New York
Edgar Berlanga vs. Steve Rolls