ON SEPTEMBER 24 at the AO Arena – formerly known as the Manchester Arena – we will witness a heavyweight shootout, where Joe Joyce and Joseph Parker will fight for the right to challenge for a world title in the first part of 2023.
This is no ordinary eliminator involving two Joes. It is a straight fight between No.1 and No.2 with the WBO and also No.2 and No.3 with the WBC. So the stakes are very high.
As many of you will be aware, this fight was stuck in the planning stage for longer than we would have liked and most people probably assumed it had fallen by the wayside when Parker opted to become a Sky Sports fighter when we were on the verge of announcing the event first time around.
Personally, I always felt this was a fight that would return to the table.
Parker reasoning that he wanted to be the A-side doesn’t really stack up. I hope he does get to enjoy a few promotional perks with Sky, but being the A-side – in most cases – revolves around being the home fighter, the one who will drive ticket sales and television viewership.
As much as he has likely made himself at home in Morecambe, Parker’s home market is New Zealand and putting him in with anybody other than a comparable Brit is always going to be a hard sell over here.
Sky wanted to have themselves a piece of the heavyweight pie following Anthony Joshua’s forthcoming departure from the network, but unless they can match him with viable British contenders moving forward, that Box Office gravy train is done, for now.
And there weren’t really any other attractive options on the horizon, which was why I was convinced Joyce-Parker would quickly come back into play.
The fact that it has is good news for everybody because it was the fight to make and it makes perfect sense for all parties.
For Big Joe, credit to him, it is about keeping busy and maintaining momentum. Don’t forget, he could easily have sat tight and waited for his shot to come around.
Truth be told, it is Parker who is being awarded an opportunity to gatecrash the top of the rankings. It really is a golden ticket for him, which is why it was so puzzling that he placed the fight in jeopardy. Given our healthy heavyweight situation, we had further fights for him win or lose, so it will be interesting to see where Sky take him if Joe does the business in Manchester, as we expect him to.
All this being said, we are where we are, and it will be a huge night on BT Sport Box Office that will really keep the heavyweight ball rolling. The landscape will become much clearer by the end of next week when Usyk and Joshua go at it again and will effectively bring three quarters of the belts back onto the market.
Seeing all this play out might also inspire Tyson to want to remind everybody who the real top dog of the heavyweight world is, so we are entering a pivotal period for the sport’s big fellas and big moves will soon be being plotted.
We won’t be short of big moves here at Queensberry, what with Joyce-Parker booked in and announcements looming for both Daniel Dubois and Anthony Yarde.
It is going to be a strong finish to 2022 and the big, meaningful fights will be coming around thick and fast.