Joseph Parker to Defend his WBO Belt against Hughie Fury in April
By: Eric Lunger
WBO Heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (22-0, 18 KO’s) of New Zealand will make his first title defense against Hughie Fury (20-0, 10 KO’s) of the UK, it was announced Friday. Duco Events of New Zealand won the WBO purse bid on Friday morning, outbidding Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter. The bout is set for April 1.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Duco won the purse with a bid of $3,011,000, sixty percent of which goes to Parker whether he wins or loses. The rest goes to Fury, the WBO mandatory challenger. Thus, Parker stands to make nearly two million dollars in his first defense. While Duco has the right to stage the bout anywhere, and while David Higgins, the Duco chief, has raised Samoa, Singapore, and even Manchester, England, as possible sites, New Zealand remains the most likely locale.
This is good news for Parker’s long time trainer, 1984 Olympic Silver medalist Kevin Barry. In an email correspondence with boxinginsider.com, Barry noted “Joseph has massive support in New Zealand, and that kind of support is good to help Joe through the tough rounds of a fight.” While Joseph and his team find comfort and support fighting at home, Parker will continue to train in Las Vegas until two weeks before the bout, according to Barry.
The matchup is an interesting one. Barry sees both fighters as “still evolving and improving every fight.” Parker, 25, has fifteen fights at ten or twelve rounds, but has fought only three times outside of New Zealand or Samoa. The younger Fury, 22, has had only five bouts at ten rounds as a pro, but Barry understands the challenge that Hughie presents: “[Hughie] has an excellent amateur pedigree and has learned his craft in the gym with his cousin Tyson Fury. Hughie has got good movement and skills, and uses his size well to control the distance of his opponent.”
When asked how the team would prepare differently for Fury than for Andy Ruiz, Jr., whom Parker defeated in December for the WBO strap, Barry put it this way: “Obviously there is a big difference between Andy Ruiz and Hughie Fury. Andy likes to come forward and press the action while Hughie is comfortable fighting off the back foot. Andy has to work inside to score his punches while Hughie is 6 inches taller and can land his scoring punches from the outside. Hughie is a young man who is getting better with every fight.”
Everyone involved in this bout understands how crucial this fight is for the heavyweight division. “The winner of this fight will be in a terrific position to challenge in unifications fights with the other current champions,” said Barry.