Joseph Parker’s return to boxing will be the toughest assignment of his career - a March date with former South American champion George Arias.
Arias, the reigning Brazilian heavyweight champion, was due to fight Parker in November.
But after Parker’s head clash last week the bout was rescheduled and a new deal signed last night.
It is a signature that Parker’s handlers could come to regret.
"A few people who I have great respect for warned me not to take this fight," Duco Events promoter Dean Lonergan said.
"But if Joseph is going to progress as quickly towards a world title shot as I think he can, he has to be tested now.
"Is it a risk? Yes. But I’ve put my trust in the boy to do the job."
Lonergan is right.
Putting Parker against the veteran Brazilian is risky.
Indeed, widely regarded match-maker Stu Duncan is adamant the battle already has ‘war’ stamped all over it.
"Dean Lonergan wanted to test Joseph Parker earlier this year and asked me to confirm the fight with Francois Botha," Duncan said.
"He used to be a contender, had fought for the world title on a number of occasions and was still reasonably fit, so we put the fight together.
"The thinking was that the fight would go at least six rounds - that would have allowed Joseph to get some great work in.
"But, history tells us that it went two rounds!
"This time, Dean wanted a tougher opponent. Well, he’s got it. There is no way Joseph will be able to put this guy away early.
"Blood will be spilt when these guys clash. This is going to be a battle."
Arias’ record of 53 wins and 11 loses is impressive.
But what is more remarkable is that he hasn’t been beaten since 2008 when he lost to Britain’s Audley Harrison.
Since that decision loss he has amassed 12 victories - including eight KOs.
And while it is easy to focus on his obvious power (none of his last five fights have gone beyond the second round) the 39 year old’s calling card is his ability to take punishment.
He has famously proved the worth of his chin in two epic contests.
The first, in 2003, was against then-contender Owen Beck when they fought for the WBA Fedelatin Heavyweight Title.
Arias was still standing after the Jamaican threw a heavyweight record number of punches (114) for a single round.
And four years later, his fight with the Ukraine’s then top 10 fighter Taras Bidenko saw him absorb some real heat.
It is understood the film of that bout has already been playing on Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry’s i-pad.
His notes are sure to read:
Really good chin
Loves to trade punches
Always fights from the centre of the ring - manages to push all of his opponents forward.
Parker - undefeated after seven fights following his destructive performance against ‘King’ Afa Tatupu on Thursday - will need to continue to make big strides in the gym with Barry ahead of March.
"We are under no illusions about the challenge that Arias provides," said Lonergan.
"But in this game you can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and duck challenges.
"Joseph needs to stay busy. And he needs to keep testing himself.
"Because of the calibre of the opponent, the decision to take the fight will place a bit of adversity and pressure on him.
Tags: Joseph Parker
"But, in this game, that’s not a bad thing because sometimes you just have to go to war."