By Jake Donovan
Joseph Parker prevailed in his first fight with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN over the weekend, but his latest victory is currently the further thing from his mind given recent familial events.
Reports from New Zealand have revealed that the former heavyweight titlist’s younger brother, John Parker was detained Monday evening in Chicago following an alleged assault incident at O’Hare International Airport while en route to his New Zealand home.
Details remain vague, other than to indicate that the younger Parker—a former pro boxer—was forced off of a Los Angeles-bound flight due to a ticketing issue, at which point the alleged incident took place. Reports also indicate that he was allegedly involved in an altercation with a member of his brother’s management team at his hotel Sunday evening.
The team was in Providence, R.I., where Parker (26-2, 20KOs) picked up his second consecutive victory in a 10th round stoppage of Alex Leapai. The bout took place on the undercard of unbeaten middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade’s 12-round win over Maciej Sulecki, with the show streaming live on DAZN-USA.
The team stayed behind one more night before departing on Monday. Joseph did not personally witness his brother being removed from the flight as he was asleep at the time, but expressed concern for his sibling’s well-being.
“I can confirm that my brother John has been detained in the United States following an incident that occurred on his way home to New Zealand,” Joseph Parker said in a statement released through his management team’s press office. “I can’t comment on the details of this matter – other than to say that the Parker family’s prayers are with John and anyone who has been affected.”
John Parker once campaigned as a cruiserweight, with all three of his pro bouts taking place on his older brother’s undercards in New Zealand including Joseph’s vacant heavyweight title-winning effort over then-undefeated Andy Ruiz in Dec. 2016. He was forced to retire with a record of 3-0 (0KOs) following a May 2017 win over Ratu Dawai after medical exams discovered a brain bleed.
It has since been reported that the 25-year old New Zealander suffers from mental health issues, which those closest to him attribute to the string of troubling incidents over the past couple of days.
“It's become apparent that John has been dealing with some mental health issues that seem to have contributed to the issue,” David Higgins, Parker’s co-manager stated, although himself not fully aware of the incidents. “Obviously, I sympathize with those involved and we're looking to provide all the support we can.
“The matter is in the hands of the U.S. authorities. I sincerely hope John is receiving the care he requires and offer my heartfelt sympathies and best wishes to everyone who has been affected. It is not appropriate for me to make any further comment on this matter.”
Reports have confirmed that Higgins was not in fact the member of Parker’s management team who was involved in the alleged assault on Sunday.
Down the road, Parker will make plans for his next fight as he aims to reclaim a heavyweight title. For now, though, his thoughts remain with his younger brother.
“This is an extremely difficult and upsetting situation for our family, and we humbly request privacy at this time,” notes Parker.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: JakeNDaBox