WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker will defend his world title belt against mandatory challenger Hughie Fury on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at Auckland’s Vector Arena.
This is the first time in history a genuine world heavyweight title has been defended on New Zealand’s shores, making PARKER-FURY the biggest boxing event ever staged in this country.
A global audience of more than 100 million is expected to tune in as Fury, the pride of Manchester, England, attempts to dethrone New Zealand’s first ever heavyweight champion.
“Putting this fight together has been the Mt Everest of event creation,” said David Higgins of Parker’s promoters Duco Events.
“Having to table a purse bid of more than $US 3 million ($NZ4.35 million) to secure all global rights was like playing Russian Roulette, but winning it has given us the right to stage this inter-continental event right here in New Zealand” Higgins said.
“We won that purse bid by the skin of our teeth and since then we have had four weeks of incredibly tense, difficult contract negotiations. Finally, today, we can confirm that PARKER-FURY is on – and will be held at Vector Arena on May 6.”
“Duco Events had taken a huge risk on the purse bid to help ensure Parker would make the first defence of his world title on home soil, Higgins said.
“Joseph loves fighting at home in front of his Kiwi fans so we really wanted to give him that opportunity against a truly dangerous, gifted young opponent in Hughie Fury. Even so, it was touch and go as there was huge pressure to stage the fight in the United Kingdom, where there are many more boxing fans and potential sponsorship dollars.
“Ultimately, we have bitten the bullet again and put our money where our mouths are to bring this event to New Zealand because we are confident Joseph’s fans and our great sponsors will continue to back him as strongly as they have always done.”
Hughie Fury is expected to base himself in Auckland for a month-long camp leading into the fight. His entourage will include trainer and father Peter and cousin Tyson, the former WBO, IBF and WBA champion who is currently plotting his return to the sport after being stripped of his titles for failing to defend them in 2016.
Higgins has already had approaches from potential major British broadcasting partners including Sky Sport, ITV and BT’s Boxnation to discuss the live British telecast of the event.
“The unbeaten Hughie Fury has a huge following in the United kingdom – a country which is enjoying a golden era of heavyweight boxing thanks to the exploits of the likes of Hughie’s cousin Tyson and IBF champion Anthony Joshua,” Higgins said. “Former British amateur champion Hughie Fury is rated as Britain’s next big thing so the audience for this fight will be huge.”
The sale of broadcast rights into the U.S. would be brokered by Bob Arum of Top Rank boxing.
“There will be massive interest in the United States in this fight between two of boxing’s brilliant young undefeated heavyweights,” Arum said. “The winner not only walks away with the WBO title, but will also be in line for showdowns with (WBC heavyweight champion) Deontay Wilder and Joshua – contests American fight fans are desperate to see.
“The likes of Parker, Fury, Joshua and Wilder are set to dominate the heavyweight division for years to come,” Arum said.
Parker was the most googled New Zealander in 2016, underlining his increasing global fame.
While the Parker camp will not be taking its eye off Fury for a second, Higgins confirmed he had been in discussions with Joshua and Wilder’s representatives over potential unification fights following PARKER-FURY.
For Parker (22-0, 18 K.O.), today’s announcement confirms a return to the venue where he outpointed American Andy Ruiz over 12 thrilling rounds to claim the vacant WBO title in December.
“I’m thrilled that I’ll now have the chance to defend my title in Auckland,” Parker said. “Hughie Fury is a great young fighter. I’ve followed his development closely because I always knew we’d meet sooner rather than later. I would have fought him on his turf in Manchester if that is the way things had worked out, but my promoters have done a great job in giving me the chance to make the first defense of my title at home in Auckland. I aim to make the most of that opportunity.”
Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry said the 20-0 (10K.O.) 1.96m Fury represented the toughest test in his fighters’ career. “Hughie Fury is an incredibly dangerous customer,” Barry said. “His father Peter has managed him superbly, bringing him along nicely while much of the attention has been on his cousin Tyson. As a regular member of Tyson’s camp, Hughie has been able to see first-hand what world heavyweight championship boxing is all about. And it should be noted that both Hughie and Tyson have yet to be defeated as professional fighters.”