By Duncan Johnstone
Joseph Parker has had to give up a second opportunity to spar with world champion Wladimir Klitschko as the New Zealand heavyweight boxer contends with a tight turnaround for his next fight.
Parker's handlers Duco Promotions are negotiating with American veteran Vinny Maddalone to headline the Fight For Life extravaganza in Hamilton on December 6.
Hopes to get a ranked opponent to New Zealand have hit repeated stumbling blocks and the 40-year-old New Yorker is set to take up the fight at late notice.
It's been a frustrating exercise as fellow contenders look to protect their rankings.
And the other frustration has been saying "no" to Klitstchko again, because of the disruptions of Parker travelling to Europe from his scheduled four-week Las Vegas training camp.
Klitschko's handlers offered Parker their congratulations after last week's win over Sherman Williams in Auckland and asked for him to be involved in the champ's preparations next week for his title defence against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in Germany next month.
But just as it was when Parker was preparing to fight Brian Minto in July on the back of being on Klitschko's undercard in May, the timing hasn't worked out.
"It has to suit what we are doing at the time. It doesn't suit at the moment when I only have a four week camp in Vegas. I'm not flying to Europe, back to Vegas and back to New Zealand," implored Parker's trainer Kevin Barry.
Barry was delighted with the offer and made it clear he wanted it to happen down the line if possible.
"I want Joe to work with Klitschko because he is the measuring stick. I think it would be a huge growth thing for Joe and a very good mental test for Joe to be with the elite of the elite. There's no doubt about that.
"There's Kiltschko, then there's the rest. That's our yardstick, so I'm very keen for him to go. But to head up there next week. It's not practical."
Britain's Tyson Fury has also sought out Parker for sparring.
"These are all positive things and when you get invitations it's because you are doing a good job," Barry said.
Parker certainly viewed it that way.
"It's exciting to have the world champion and Fury asking me," Parker said.
But for now it's Maddalone - 37 wins, eight losses and a draw with 28 of his wins coming via knockout - who is on the menu.
Australian Lucas Browne (WBC No 6, WBA No 5, IBF No 7), Puerto Rican Fres Oquendo (WBA No 8) and Australian Mark De Mori (WBA No 9) turned down lucrative offers to fight in Hamilton.
It's clear that Duco are going to have to dig deeper into their pockets to get a contender down this way for Parker to fight.
The aggressive Maddalone brings a useful record and vast experience - he has been in the ring with the likes of Fury, Denis Boystov, Jean Marc Mormeck, Tomasz Adamek and Evander Holyfield.
Barry felt Maddalone might factor in Parker's development at some stage and circumstances suggest that is now.
Barry believes his style will make for a good fight.
"He's very heavy handed, especially in the first couple of rounds. He's a dangerous guy. He will come forward and fight and Joe is going to have to beat him down," Barry said.
"After the challenges of fighting a very defensive fighter like Sherman Williams who was more content to dodge punches and hold, this guy will fight with Joe.
"As far as a style for Joe, I like guys that come forward and come on to him.
With Joe's fast-rate punches, it's better that they are coming to us and we're not chasing."