Joseph Parker agrees to fight Francois Botha
Rising Kiwi heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker and controversial South African Francois Botha have ''agreed to terms'' for a fight in May in New Zealand.
It's a fight that has led to Parker's manager, Sir Bob Jones, quitting over the suitability of pitching the youngster against Botha, especially after Botha's recent controversy-filled fight with Sonny Bill Williams in Australia.
Parker is now searching for a specialist sports management company to handle his affairs.
But Parker's promoters, Duco Events, are going ahead with a Botha fight, believing Botha will draw attention while also presenting the necessary lift in opposition for the 21-year-old New Zealander.
''We are dealing with Botha's representative and have agreed terms. We have been talking to them for a few weeks now. We just need to get the contract squared away'' said David Higgins, of Duco Events.
Auckland or Hamilton are likely venues.
Higgins said the 44-year-old Botha ''ticked all the boxes'' from a promotional perspective.
While Botha's loss to Williams was dogged by allegations of match-fixing, doping and bribery, Higgins believed the veteran had shown he could still box.
''We respect Sir Bob and his opinions. He is a bit of a purist when it comes to opponent selection, looking at the technicalities,'' Higgins said. ''We, as well as looking at that side of it, also look at the promotional side.
''Obviously there is a show business, entertainment element and to have a really big show which enables us to pay Joseph the big purse, we need to tick the entertainment, showmanship type box as well as look for a quality opponent. I think Mr Botha ticks both of those boxes.''
Botha will be a constant presence in Kiwi boxing circles this year. He and Williams have reportedly agreed to a rematch in South Africa in December.
Meanwhile, Higgins said his company had no interest in managing Parker.
''We are a promoter. We don't want to be the manager. In my view being manager and promoter creates a conflict of interest. In my view Joseph does need independent management of his own choosing.
''He's talking to a prominent rugby player manager who offers legal services and runs the day-to-day affairs of top sports stars. That could be a good solution for Joseph.
''Hopefully Bob [Jones] is still available for some advice. I think Bob has been good for Joseph - smartening up the wardrobe, general politeness. If Joseph wins some fights and makes a bit of money, Bob might be a good person to give some advice on how he might invest it.
''Joseph is philosophical about it and obviously very grateful to Bob for his help so far. But I guess now it is a new phase.''
Parker, who has easily won his first three fights after turning professional after missing out on last year's Olympics, will fight little-known Kiwi Dontay Pati in Christchurch on Thursday night.
''It's a tune-up fight to keep Joseph busy,'' Higgins said, maintaining their plan to keep Parker busy with up to eight fights a year at this early stage of his career.