By Jake Donovan
Weeks after having to move past a planned Anthony Joshua-headlined April 13 show at Wembley Stadium in London, efforts to put together a worthy lineup for a rumored April 20 card at London’s O2 Arena are so far proving equally futile.
The latest fallout on the latter show comes in a targeted showdown between veteran heavyweight contender Dereck ‘Del Boy’ Chisora and former heavyweight titlist Joseph Parker. Plans for such a pairing are no longer on the books, as New Zealand’s Parker is officially looking for another fight after increasing displeasure over the manner in which negotiations were handled.
“We signaled last week that we were at the 11th hour and we weren't going to run a short camp,” David Higgins, Parker’s promoter claimed in an interview with New Zealand Herald on Thursday. “Suddenly they're all over me now.
“I got a text from Eddie Hearn (Chisora’s promoter) this morning and David Haye (Chisora’s longtime heated rival-turned-manager) has reached out. I like them both but I think their approach to the process is cowardly.”
Parker (25-2, 19KOs) considered the fight and a return to the United Kingdom, where he previously held a three-fight road trip which saw his final successful title defense followed by back-to-back defeats. A Sept. ’17 win over Hughie Fury in Manchester, England was followed by a points loss to Joshua in their title unification clash last March in Cardiff, Wales.
Efforts to return to the win column instead resulted in a heartbreaking loss to Dillian Whyte last July at O2 Arena. Interestingly, that bout was made on relatively short notice, with Higgns and Hearn agreeing to terms almost instantly but still leaving the former heavyweight titlist with less than two months to prepare for such a dangerous challenge.
That part apparently still resonates with the Parker side, as Thursday’s development clearly indicates a disinterest in the potential for history to repeat itself.
“[Chisora's] approach was cowardly in that he watched his compatriot Dillian Whyte basically force Joe into a seven-week camp with home advantage and officials and instead of trying to run a fair fight with a fair lead time,” Higgins believes. “Del Boy has been in camp for three weeks.
“They're basically trying to steal a few weeks of advantage – and home advantage. There is a saying that beggars can't be choosers; but I'm both so this fight won't be happening on those terms.”
Representatives from Duco Events have informed BoxingScene.com of plans for Parker to instead remain local for his next fight.
The 27-year old heavyweight enjoyed a triumphant return to New Zealand last December, scoring a 3rd round knockout of Alexander Flores. The bout was his first home game since a 12-round win over Razvan Cojanu in a May ’17 title defense, five months after winning the vacant title in a majority decision victory over Andy Ruiz, also in New Zealand.
From there, Parker and the Duco brass won’t be averse to revisiting talks with Chisora. All they ask for is a fair shake—and a more open line of communication.
“If they want the fight we're going to have to potentially talk about new dates and new locations,” Higgins insists. “For the last (two weeks), we've been saying we need to come to terms, get a contract, and go into camp otherwise we won't be able to do this fight. Maybe they thought we were desperate, but no, we're calling their bluff. We're out.
“We were fairly remunerated for the risk (in Parker’s eventual loss to Whyte). The problem here is they're asking us to take a big risk for a low return.”
Whyte was also due to appear on the show, with original plans targeting a planned showdown with America’s Dominic Breazeale—among other suggested notable candidates. Such a pairing never made it beyond theory, despite the fight itself being ordered by the World Boxing Council (WBC).
Breazeale is now being groomed as an alternate option for the next fight in the career of Deontay Wilder, whose schedule is left in limbo as talks for a rematch with England’s Tyson Fury have suddenly stalled.
Wilder, Fury and Whyte were all targeted as potential opponents for Joshua back when his team was still planning to return to Wembley on April 13. Instead, the unbeaten, unified heavyweight will make his U.S. debut in a title defense versus undefeated Jarrell Miller, which will take place June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
As for Whyte, plans for his next ring appearance rate about the same as the status of the hoped-for April 20 heavyweight show at O2—up in the air.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox