Invercargill has good chance, say Parker promoters

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014

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Invercargill is edging closer to hosting its first big-time professional boxing event.

Auckland-based boxing promoter Dean Lonergan visited Invercargill for the first time yesterday to meet ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt.

The discussion was about a fight night - potentially headlined by New Zealand's talented heavyweight Joseph Parker - at the venue as early as February.

Lonergan and Skelt were confident it would work in Invercargill.

Lonergan's company Duco Events, which has Parker and another world-ranked boxer, Robert Berridge, in its stable, has talked about holding a fight night in Invercargill for the past couple of years.

Lonergan's first visit to Invercargill has sped up the process. He hailed the Stadium Southland venue as world class and perfect for boxing.

Lonergan said despite Parker's rapid rise on the world stage, he would be more than happy to still have him fight in a provincial city such as Invercargill.

"I would love to bring down Joseph Parker and Rob Berridge and put on a boxing event. I've been through this stadium inside and out today and it is absolutely world class. I think it is something Southland can be truly proud of. I've been to a lot of sporting venues around the world and this is as good as any of them," Lonergan said.

"We've said quite a bit that we'd like to come to Invercargill, but until you get off your bum and come here to see the venue, I had no idea how good it was."

"If we can strike a deal with Nigel we could be here in February with Joseph Parker and Robert Berridge," he said.

Lonergan had not crunched the numbers yet with Skelt. He also planned to put together a presentation to other Invercargill community leaders about how they could work together for the benefit of both parties.

Skelt felt it was too good an opportunity for the city to not pounce on.

Parker and Berridge are ranked in the top 15 in the world by some organisations, and by the time they did fight in Invercargill they could be pushing top-five rankings if they avoided losses along the way.

"This is a massive opportunity for the community," Skelt said.

"This has the opportunity to be our biggest event of international status. What I am very excited about is the opportunity through TV to showcase Invercargill, and that brings a whole new opportunity for the city. We've talked with Dean about the possibility of making it a destination event by doing it two or three years in a row."

Lonergan said the fight night formula in Invercargill could have bouts featuring Southland corporates followed by about five top-line professional bouts, which would be televised throughout the world.

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He also met Fight for Kidz organiser Dave Bartley yesterday to discuss how they might be able to work together.

"One thing we want to do is work in with the locals. We are promoters out of Auckland, we don't know anything about the local community. You can't walk in and think you are going to be the big guy and do what you do, you've got to work closely with the locals."

- The Southland Times

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