NZ heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker rises to top contender with WBO
Kiwi heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker is a top-ranked world title contender for the first time.
The 24-year-old South Aucklander's trainer Kevin Barry tweeted on Friday afternoon that his young charge was now rated No 1 with the WBO.
"As of today Joseph Parker is now ranked #1 with the WBO #TEAMPARKER," Barry said to his 5,700 followers.
Parker, who went to 18-0 as a professional with a eighth-round technical knockout of American southpaw Jason Bergman in Samoa earlier this month, has leapfrogged English prospect Anthony Joshua and former longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine into top spot.
The rising Kiwi's climb may be the first solid step towards a fight many boxing fans have been eager to see for some time now.
It is understood Parker does not automatically become the mandatory challenger to British belt holder Tyson Fury and would have to fight No 2 contender Joshua to determine who claims the right for a shot at the title.
"Anthony Joshua, I am now ranked number one in the WBO you are ranked number two," Parker said in a video released by promoters Duco Events. "Come to New Zealand to fight me for the number one (mandatory) position.
"Anthony I am not scared of you. You said when we get together someone is going to get knocked out. Guess what, It is not going to be me"
The heavyweight gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, 26-year-old Joshua's record stands at 15-0.
Duco director Dean Lonergan recently said Joshua was running scared of a fight with Parker and Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn replied that the Kiwi would have to get in line.
But a video emerged earlier this week of Joshua saying if Parker wanted to fight him, "he can come fight me".
"I've known about Parker since probably about 2009, when I was coming up in the amateurs," Joshua told iFL TV.
"Styles make fights, doesn't it? He's knocking out guys over in New Zealand, I'm knocking out guys in the UK - we come together and someone's going to get knocked out. That's just heavy-handed, fast, young prospects coming through the division."
Parker's next fight will be in Christchurch in late April, but an opponent is yet to be confirmed.
Controverisal Englishman Fury also holds the WBA belt after defeating Klitschko in November last year. The pair have signed for a rematch, but a date for the bout has not been finalised.
The two other champions in the division alongside Fury are Americans Deontay Wilder (WBC) and Charles Martin (IBF).
Parker is also ranked seventh with the WBC and IBF and 11th with the WBA.