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Only Fools Rush In: After the Hughie Fury No Show, What's Next for Joseph Parker?

Joseph Parker should be hoping Wladimir Klitschko loses to Anthony Joshua this weekend - he'd be the perfect next challenge.
Joseph Parker Official Instagram

There was a letter of support from former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson for a British challenger. A last minute Ministry of Foreign Affairs U-turn on a coach's visa. A sold out Spark Arena in Auckland - and weeks of typically breathless coverage of a world boxing title defense in little old New Zealand with a humble Kiwi champ. The narrative had formed.

Yet, in the end, the Hughie Fury vs Joseph Parker heavyweight bout delivered an anti-climax only boxing could ever produce.


Fury, cousin of former world champion bad boy Tyson, pulled pin on his scrap with Parker only two weeks before the Big Kiwi's WBO title defense in Auckland on May 6.

The Fury camp gave a limp excuse for not making the trip Way Down Under, citing an injury suffered during training for the bout.

"Do I think Hughie is injured? No, I don't. I think it's make-believe," Parker's promoter David Higgins of Duco, told the New Zealand Herald when the news broke on Sunday.

Higgins called the Fury camp – who have refused to talk with Duco since pulling out - "clowns" too, while Hughie's cousin Tyson, who has blown out since vacating the WBA, WBO and IBO titles last October, sent a cheeky tweet suggesting he could fight the big Kiwi, who sports a 22-0 record with 18 KOs.

No one was laughing. The Parker crew, Duco and even the New Zealand government had bent over backwards to make the fight – long suggested to be the last rising star Parker will ever hold in his home country – happen.

Hughie's dad Peter was granted a special visa after initially getting the thumbs down from the Kiwi border patrol on account for stretches in prison back in the United Kingdom.

While Duco have found a last minute replacement for Hughie, Romanian lump Razvan 'Big Foot' Cojanu, it's all pretty embarrassing stuff.

Speaking to the NZ Herald at the launch of the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio Giulia in Auckland this week, Parker said he was so committed to defending his title in front of his home fans in Auckland that he's taking a "considerable" pay cut from the suggested NZ$1.7 million he would have got against Fury.


"It's going to be an exciting fight, probably a more exciting fight than myself and Fury," Parker said, in a halfhearted attempt to sell the replacement scrap.

"I base that on what I've seen, Also, with Fury, he would have been running away, holding on and making it a boring fight. Since this might be our last fight in New Zealand, I want to give the fans, or supporters, a big fight – or big send-off."


Regardless of what happens against the Romanian, who is seen by most as sitting outside the top 15 heavyweights in the world, it certainly will not be a big send-off.

In reality, the replacement fight against a Romanian no-name Cojanu has little point to it. Victory is a given, yet the nature of it lends nothing to Parker's positive trajectory as a relevant heavyweight.

If the Kiwi knocks out Cojanu in the first round, people will roll their eyes. If he goes beyond three rounds, or even the full length, the criticism will reach crescendo levels on Kiwi sports radio talkback.

While Stella Artois, Moa or whoever is supplying the corporate tables with piss for the replacement fight will be more than happy, those who bought the Duco hype and were frothing for a decent scrap will be sorely disappointed; especially considering Parker may never fight in New Zealand again.

SKY TV, too, will be bummed. A Parker bout is a big money spinner, and while some will still buy the pay-per-view for 'Big Foot', many won't bother. Duco will now be scrambling to appease both parties.


When Fury pulled stumps, hard-hitting American American Deontay Wilder - who is an imposing 38-0 with 37 KOs - posted a video on Twitter shaming the Brit, and suggesting the Kiwi should take him on.

"I'm going to cut straight to the chase … I've heard about this Hughie Fury bagging out two weeks before a fight," Wilder said on Twitter. "Come on man, I know they have a history of doing stuff, family history at that.

"Oh yeah, I heard about the injury. They said it was a lack of self confidence and that sounds about right. But anyway, moving on … Joseph Parker if you are really serious about fighting somebody, if you are really serious about unifying the division, if you are really serious about giving the fans what they want to see, then what other person is available than me?

"I've got the WBC, you've got the WBO, let's make it happen. I'm available right now. Forget these other scrubs, that's up in the division coming up. Right now you're talking about another champion versus another champion.

"Let's make a unification bout and at the end of the year we'll get a mega fight against the winner of Klitschko and Joshua."

While Parker said he'd have been up for a knock-around with Wilder but the timing was wrong, that seems far-fetched. The truth of the matter is the Hughie no show has seen Duco box their own rising star into a corner. A relatively easy victory over the younger Fury would be chalked up as, finally, a win over a heavyweight with a degree of name recognition.


It would have hardly been the ultimate test, but at least the Parker crew could point to it and say 'well, the heat was on and we fried the bacon. Let's now consider our options.'

They can't do that now. All they have is Parker's career victories over Andy Ruiz Jr and, in all reality, a bunch of middling bums, the long-suggested potential of a true heavyweight contender - and the knowledge they are definitely not ready for Wilder.

There are different fish out there though, including one big catchable one following this weekend's fight at Wembley between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. While Parker said he thinks the Ukranian former world champ will come out on top, Duco will surely be angling for a Joshua victory.

That way, they can side-step Wilder's challenge – and organize a big name scrap with Klitchsko, most likely in the United States. The money will be big, the exposure even better, and the aging Klitschko - a former training buddy of Parker's - beatable in a fight that won't be seen as an 'all-or-nothing' scrap with the old veteran the holder of a big belt again.

NZ Herald columnist Chris Rattue agrees with Wilder, saying Parker should take that scrap and help narrow the field for unification.

"Wilder called on promoters and managers to stop being afraid, to stop manipulating the heavyweight scene, to put on real fights – for which Klitschko versus Joshua clearly counts, while Parker versus the long tall Romanian doesn't," Rattue wrote.

"Joseph Parker is a fantastic athlete and already close to being a national sporting legend. On a world scale, I respectfull doubt he will end up being much more than a dot in history. But many of us are hoping that he does indeed clamber to the top of this disheveled heap, even if he is unlikely to stay there for long."

Rattue is spot about the manipulation of the division, but while a Wilder v Parker bout would definitely sell a lot of pay-per-views, it's an impatient prospect, and, more importantly, one that Duco - in the business of squeezing every last cent out of the Parker cash cow - won't be considering.

They're playing the long game with their star. The best way to do that after this Hughie Fury debacle? Gather around a television set this weekend, cheering on every punch Joshua lands - and hope he does the deed.